June 15, 2023

Unveiling the Absence of Motorsports Racing in India

 America is famous for its top fuel dragster, NASCAR, and IndyCar races. Car drift is a popular sport in Japan. World famous Dakar rally is organized in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, World Rally Championships are organized in various countries in Europe. Likewise, F1 and MotoGP are world-class motorsports. Races of these championships are organized in various American, European, and Asian countries. But in terms of motorsports, there is almost nothing in India.

Even though India is a vast country today, It has the 5th largest economy in the world, along with has 2nd largest road network in the world. Today, India has the 4th largest market of cars but still, no major motorsports are organized in India. Neither India is known for any of its specialized motorsport like Thailand.

Motorsport | F1 Racing | FMSCI | Formula 1 | Indian Motorsport

Thailand has a very small economy in comparison to that of India but still, Thailand's own specialized motorsports are organized Thailand like Boat drag racing and sidecar motorcycle racing. Even though it is a developing nation still, many major international motorsports are organized in Thailand like MotoGP. A similar thing could be observed in Brazil as well which is also a developing nation, and the 12th largest economy in the world. But still, F1 racing has been organized in Brazil for a very long time. Hence the question arises When motorsports are appreciated a lot in many developing and developed countries then why it is not appreciated in India.

Discover the intriguing reasons behind the lack of motorsports racing in India. Delve into the cultural, economic, and infrastructural factors that have hindered the growth of this thrilling sport in the country, and explore the potential for its future development.

Why Motorsport Racing Hasn't Revved Up in India?

Does India not have an audience for motorsports? No, Not! According to the Survey conducted by Neilson in the year 2019. India is among the top 5 countries in terms of F1 fans. The problem in India does not lie with the people but with the government bodies, the Indian government never tried to promote motorsports. But the state governments literally murdered the motorsports in India in the year 2011 when F1 racing was introduced in India. This game of motorsports is huge for business enthusiasts not only among the ones whose interests are hampered by the government.

But it harms the Indian economy as well F1 is not the only motorsport through which huge money is earned. F1 racing is the 5th largest sport in the world. Major motorsports like F1 also attract foreigners to your country Monaco and Saudi Arabia are two major examples that attract tourists in large numbers from foreign countries and that's why we will understand this in detail in this article the reason behind the lag of motorsport in India.

Why motorsports do not exist in India? And what all we are losing because of it?

To know about all these questions, we must have prior knowledge about the racing history of India India has an ancient history of motor racing. Motor racing was started in India before its Independence, In the year 1904, the Motorsport Union of Western India Conducted the first motor race in India, this race started in Delhi and ended in Mumbai. This race had a huge track to cover these types of races conducted in India because the European auto brands wanted the Indians to be convinced of the fact. The Indian roads can be used to drive vehicles. As there were not a lot of cars at that time the European brands wanted to promote their cars in India. So that rich people in India can buy their cars with this, there was an increase in the imports of cars. In India and till the year 1930, the majority of cars were imported into India from foreign countries.

But by the end of the 1940s, many Indian companies established joint ventures with foreign car manufacturers with this, the assembling and manufacturing of cars started in India and gradually, the number of cars started increasing in India, and due to this many people in India became enthusiastic about motor racing. To fulfill their passion, many car lovers in India started using airstrips developed during World War 2 as car racing tracks. Like Juhu airstrip, Sholavaram, located in Tamil Nadu, and Barrackpore, located in Kolkata. These airstrips were converted into racing tracks these racing tracks gave birth to local motorsports clubs in India, Madras Motorsport Club MG Club, and Mumbai and Bengaluru Motor Clubs.

What is FMSCI?

But still, India did not have any governing body for controlling the motorsports in India and at that time all these clubs together formed FMSCI. Even today, all the motorsports whether minor or major events that are conducted in India are controlled by FMSCI today If we observe, FMACI does not have anything to control. on one side Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries host world-class motorsports like F1, Dakar Rally, and MotoGP. On the other side, India does not organize any major motorsports events.

Today, India only has 1 or 2 global standard-designed motor tracks and these tracks are located explicitly in Delhi and Mumbai due to this, it is very difficult or next to impossible for learners and racing enthusiasts to carve their skills in a country where racing events are not conducted. Finding a racing driver in such a country is just like looking for water in a dried well even today, motorsports are primarily linked with Narain Karthikeyan in India. But he is not even a star racing driver because still, Narain Karthikeyan has not won any major motorsports world championship this absence of motorsports in India forces the Indian youngsters to opt for cricket over racing Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are among the most famous Indian cricketers. But the question arises.

In India, car racing was started many decades earlier than in the Middle Eastern countries and when people used to ride on camels in Middle Eastern countries, people were driving cars on Indian roads. But then, Middle Eastern countries left India far behind in terms of motorsports,

Why does India have such poor conditions in motorsports? 

The previous Indian governments are responsible for this FMSCI was formed in the year 1971 in India In the year 1973, it was registered as a private company. As the first governing body for auto racing and rallying in India FMSCI started organizing Racing events in India. But as we already know, motorsport is a very cash-intensive business due to the lack of funds at FMSCI. It could not promote motorsports in India to a level that was expected. 

Suppose we compare India with the Middle Eastern countries, in those countries. In that case, national motorsports governing bodies are governed by the government, and with the help of their initiatives and policies motorsports are promoted. Today, the governments of those countries provide massive funding for hosting motorsports in their countries. 

In India, FMSCI was a private company that needed more funds from its beginning due to this reason, till the year 2004, despite motor racing becoming 100 years old in India F1 racing was never conducted. But to fill this void in 2007, discussions started in FMSCI to organize F1 racing for the first time in India, and in  2011, F1 racing was scheduled in Greater Noida. At Buddh International Circuit this track was developed to organize F1 races in India this event proved to be a commercial success in India. But with this event getting successful in India a tax dispute was observed.

Tax Disputation of Motorsport in India

In the years 2012 and 2013, two more additions to F1 racing were organized in India, and after this, F1 racing was never organized in India. The policies of the Indian government were responsible for this till the year 2015, the Indian government did not recognize motorsports as any sport. The Indian government did not consider motorsports as any sport when F1 racing was organized in India for the first time in the year 2011. A tax dispute was observed between the State Government of Uttar Pradesh, Jaypee Group, and the Indian organizers the Government of Uttar Pradesh at that time said that F1 is not considered a sport. It is considered an entertainment activity in India due to this, According to Indian law, It comes under the heavy tax slab of 60%. After this, the owner of Buddh International Circuit, Jaypee Group F1 racing was organized. In this circuit, the government and the Jaypee group tried to solve this problem. However the negotiations did not turn out to be successful the organizers had to pay 60% taxes for the next three years and in the year 2015, the 4th edition of the Grand Prix was supposed to be organized in India. 

But still, the tax disputes were not solved Due to this, F1 racing finally canceled its International contract with the Jaypee Group F1 made an exit from India and never came back and the government of India was responsible for this contract cancellation. The son of the Former FMSCI president, Vicky Chandok, and India's racing driver and MTV host, Karan Chandok said that F1 could never be organized in India until the Indian government funds motorsports. As told earlier, the allotment of funds is very rare because, until 2015, the Indian government did not recognize F1 as any sport. Due to this organizers were forced to pay heavy taxes one more major question arises here, 

Racing is considered to be a sport in the whole world why the Indian government does not recognize racing as a sport? 

Look, there is a simple reason behind this If the Indian government has considered it to be a sport. The Indian government had to support racing as well as any other sports since motorsports are very expensive. This could have laid a burden on the Indian government now, even though it could be a little expensive for the Indian government to consider motorsports as a sport in India at that time. But this has only negatively impacted the Indian government. Let me tell you how according to Karan Chandok the F1 racing event was organized in Istanbul, Turkey in the year 2007. Only 11 people were standing in the grandstand But when F1 was organized for the first time in India in the year 2011, at that time 1,10,000 people were present to watch the F1 racing. 

Will Motorsport be as huge as IPL in India?

This makes it clear that India has a huge motorsports fanbase. However, due to the policies of the Indian government, we could not commercialize the Indian motorsports fanbase. If the Indian government had done it today, Motorsports would have been as successful as the Indian Premier League the Indian government earned INR 200 Crores through the IPL in the year 2010. But today, only the IPL contributes around $ 300 Million to the Indian economy every year apart from this.

Tourism from Motorsport in India

If India hosts international motorsports it would captivate many tourists to India from all over Asia India is a lot cheaper than Malaysia and the Middle Eastern countries. While many tourist destinations are located in India these could be explored by the tourists. This will boost the Indian tourism industry like UAE For example in the financial year 2021-22, Motorsports contributed $ 4.8 Million to the tourism industry of the UAE In the year 2022, The size of the Global motorsports industry had a worth of $ 5.11 Billion And according to many market research firms. By the year 2027, it would increase to $ 12.9 Billion due to this reason, many countries are investing heavily in motorsports, and we again take the example of Saudi Arabia.

Current status of Motorsport in India

In January 2023, the government of Saudi Arabia Offered $20 Million to Liberty Media Corporation who is the current owner of the F1 group to buy the whole F1 group but Liberty Media rejected this offer. Now, If we look at the stance of the Indian government today it seems very positive regarding motorsports Motorsports were provided the status of sports in the year 2015 and FMSCI was included in the sports ministry-backed National Sports Federation of India Former racing driver Akbar Ebrahim who is the present president of FMSCI Believes that this would highly benefit the motorsports in India.

Firstly, conducting any type of championship whether cart, bike, or car racing would become very smooth. Second and most important, the participation of students from various schools and colleges would increase. The students who will be taking part in motorsports would get additional benefits in their schools and Indian colleges would also try to promote motorsports apart from this, if any local federation imports equipment from any foreign country to promote motorsports in India. Subsidies would be provided to them it could be also observed that various state governments are trying to promote motorsports together with the central government of India and taking steps in this direction, the Formula E event was conducted in Hyderabad, Telangana and very soon, MotoGP racing would be organized in India.


But at present, India is at an early stage in terms of motorsports, gradually, the motorsport market is becoming highly competitive in India. That's why we need to take bigger steps now this is not only limited to the Indian motorsports market. This will leave a highly positive impact on the Indian Automobile Industry as well because today Indian auto manufacturers are manufacturing vehicles with global standards and it would become very easy for them to bring their capability and talent in front of the whole world with the motorsports. The Indian auto manufacturers would be able to promote their vehicles easily.

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