Born in a country where cricket is not just the food, air, blood, and sweat but also somewhat a religion for the masses, most readers wouldn’t be too familiar with the world of motor-spots. I got my first glimpse of racing in my late teens, and I have been ruing the utter absence of competitive motorsports in this country ever since.
It was the year 1998, and the names of Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen were often echoed by our TV sets during the 9 PM news bulletin. Then the ‘aha moment’ came during the German Grand Prix of the year 2000 when Rubens Barrichello drove the race of his life and managed to win after starting 18th on the grid. It was a wet race, and Rubens drove on slicks for nearly half the race. It not only required extraordinary driving skills but also the nerves of a superhuman to pull it off. It was some exhilarating stuff. Below is a glimpse of that incredible drive.
Before that aha moment, the definition of racing was nothing more than driving as fast as you can on your streets crisscrossing across slow moving cars. Interestingly, what looked like a modern form of competitive sports back then turned out to be something quite ancient.
Like many children watching Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton today, I got so inspired by Barrichello’s heroics that I wished to associate myself with auto-racing in some way. But I soon realized how difficult it was in Pakistan.
Motor-racing has been around since as long as cars themselves but for some reason in Pakistan, the concept is still yet to be clearly understood. Ironically, there isn’t a single racing school or club in Pakistan that young aspiring racers could join and learn the art of racing. Yes, I Googled, and here are the results:
Upon searching further, you will find some racing schools but for horse racing. There are some encouraging PakWheels user posts, but the trail ends there.
A few years ago, some go-karting centers opened up only to close down or fight for survival. Is it because there is absolutely no potential in this market – which remains to be a niche – or is it because those centers were ill-conceived and not properly managed?
It is quite baffling that being the 6th largest country in the world, Pakistan doesn’t have a single established school for motor-racing let alone a national governing body for this type of sports. It’s certainly not because we don’t love our cars, we do and the passion shown on forums such as this one is a testament to that.
Is it because of the costs? After all, businesses do not run on passion alone and an investor would always look at the ROIs and other financial indicators before betting on something entirely new to the market. But things have changed. Formula1 and MotoGP have over the years gained tremendous popularity. Motor-shows trend is on the rise as well lately. Organizers have been able to get both financial as well as public backing for auto-related events. What might have looked like a bad idea ten years ago has now started to hold its worth and there certainly is a potential.
The question remains, though: Would anyone from the start-up generation be willing to step-up and help the cause of schools of car racing in Pakistan for the sake of Pakistan’s petrol-head community?