Racing Entrepreneurs
evo India|June 2019

In a country where making a career out of motorsport is next to impossible, two young racers are donning entrepreneurial hats to launch a racing league modelled along the lines of the IPL

Sirish Chandran

THE IPL OF MOTORSPORT — THAT, in a nutshell, is what the X1 Racing League is all about, running a citybased franchise model where a mix of international, Indian and lady drivers will be auctioned to teams who will run two cars in a short T20-style, 45-minute race, featuring a driver change for added drama, on a mix of street and race circuits that will culminate in parties, rock shows and what not. Sounds too good to be true? In a country where race promoters struggle to fill up grids, where is the money for a big-bang series with all the affiliated razzmatazz?

It’s easy to be skeptical but Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim are out to prove the naysayers wrong. Having struggled their whole lives to raise money to further their racing careers (and, to be fair, having not been very successful at that) the two young racers have shifted track to become race promoters, and for the first time ever in Indian motorsport they’ve got venture funding. At the Speed Summit at the BIC, X1’s first on-ground event that proves the League is no pie in the sky, a roll-call of big name investors were read out — Kunal Shah of FreeCharge, Jitendra Gupta of PayU and CitrusPay, Raghunandan G of Taxi4Sure, the Rattha Group, White Unicorn Ventures, AngelList and Lets Venture. Jay Pawar of Maharashtra’s politically powerful Pawar family is a co-founder and Ravi Krishnan who was part of the Rajasthan Royals in the Shilpa Shetty - Raj Kundra days, is co-chairman. And some crazy figures are being bandied about. Half a million US dollars in prize money. The league’s top drivers getting to race in Le Mans, WEC and even F1 (no really, I am not making that up). And all preceded by a nation-wide e-racing series with a 100,000 US dollars as prize money and a virtual-to-real race program. Wow! These boys have been busy!

I caught up with the two racers at the Speed Summit at the BIC and I start by asking what’s more difficult, racing or raising money? “Racing,” they both holler back, in unison.

So here’s how the series will run. Four teams have been signed on, eight are the target, each at 5 crore for a year. They sign on for seven years with a lock in for three years. The 5 crore covers the cost of competing, including the cars, logistics, drivers, marketing, everything. The series will run the single-make cars which haven’t yet been decided upon, the JA Motorsport 2-seater prototype is a front-runner but there’s an even more affordable car being evaluated.

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