“I cannot think of a podium finish for I am riding a 2008 model Yamaha, while Azlan is riding a 2013 Honda. Machine matters in world of motor sport and thus I cannot make an impact.”
“Just to give you an idea, each set of tyres cost Rs. 40,000. I practice twice a month at Madras Motorsports Club. In comparison, the international riders practices twice a week.”
“Even the smallest of cricket matches are shown over and over again on the television but the national racing championship is never broadcasted.”
“I’m a ten-time national champion and I can’t manage to find a single sponsor locally.”
There are plenty of things wrong with this world. Hell, they probably far outweigh the number of things that are right. We’ve still not managed to crawl out of the evolutionary swamp that created all life, even if some of us have been to the Moon, or imagined what it’d be like to travel through a black hole into a galaxy far far away.
In spite of everything that you might want to believe, we are just filthy animals, like dogs fighting for their place on the social ladder. The only difference is that we have one more variable in the equation, something no other species has ever felt the need for.
Rajini Krishnan is a motorcycle racer, and as motorcycle racers go, he’s a rather good one. First Indian winner of an international road racing event, Malaysian Superbike Championship winner, and multiple National Road Racing champion. Along with Sarath Kumar, he did the Spanish Moto3 championship in 2013, and that’s about as close to the top of motorcycle racing scene as any Indian has ever got.
But the more you research about him, the more depressing it gets.
Injuries, lack of money, lack of support, and lack of media attention, it’s all in there. Let me give you an example of how bad things are.
In 2013, Rajini won at the Losail Asian Road Racing Championship in Qatar, the first Indian to do so. I can’t find a single article about this, not even one. In the same year, Sreesanth was arrested on charges of match fixing, and every news website, entire social media, and the TV went into a collective orgasm that raged on for months.
Think about it for a second, the act of a millionaire cricketer trying to make some extra money by selling out seemed exponentially more important than an Indian doing something that’s never been done before.
And the party doesn’t end here. I’m sure most of you know of CS Santosh. When he did Dakar for the first time, he got the kind of attention that the Indian motorcycling world had never seen before. The second time he couldn’t finish the race, but still got a lot of media exposure. So what happened when a motorcycling superstar started a crowdfunding campaign to be competitive for his next Dakar challenge?
Yes, he got less than 4% of the money that he wanted. Less than 2 lacs of a 50 lac aim.
It’s a well known fact that Indians are cheap, no matter how much they might love something, they’ll never give cash, except if it’s a roadside beggar and the cash is coins. The reason Cricket doesn’t seem to face this issue is because people pay BCCI with something far more valuable than money.
If there are 2 things that are constantly happening on the face of this planet, it would be doggie fucking and fucking cricket matches. It doesn’t matter what day, what time, what channel, someone is always throwing the ball and someone is always hitting it with a piece of wood. But here’s the brilliance of this system – people watch them all.
Companies know that there’s a huge audience behind every match, so they offload tonnes of money to create ghastly repetitive ads that are squeezed through every inch and every nanosecond of the broadcast. Because companies spend money, the players get money. Because the players get money, they are famous, so they get more money through ads and endorsements. Because they are rich and famous, parents want their kids to be like them, so they spend money for coaching and equipment. Because parents themselves support the game, everybody at home watches the matches. Because everybody watches, companies have reach to every age group, every language, and every last inch of the country.
And the cycle continues.
The problem with motorsports is at multiple levels. First off, motorcycle manufacturers in India couldn’t give 2 shits about racing, all they care about are scooters and kmpl figures. There are a few companies like Honda, TVS, KTM who have invested in racing, but the direction of their efforts is less towards improving the overall motorsports culture in India, and more towards marketing their own respective brands.
Take Mahindra for example, they’ve been a part of Moto3 world championship for a while now. Have they ever attempted to use any of that expertise in any of their road going products? Have they ever attempted to bring that level of racing to their home country? Have they ever employed any Indian racers, mechanics, technicians to give them international exposure?
Since no manufacturer cares about racing, no manufacturer spends money for sponsorships, endorsements or ads. Since there is no influx of money, no channel covers the events, and none of the people involved make any decent amount. Since they don’t make any money, they aren’t rich. Since they aren’t rich they aren’t famous. All parents see are gruesome photos of assholes dying on motorcycles everyday, so asking them for a 40,000 rupee leather suit is generally followed by laughter, if not an ass whooping. On top of that, when parents see racers needing to drive taxis to support a living, of course they don’t want their kids risking their lives and their careers on something that’s almost guaranteed to give no returns. Try watching a MotoGP race with your parents, they can’t even fathom why for the love of God these dudes are riding around in circles, crashing into each other.
And the cycle continues.
I don’t expect things to improve anytime soon, any thought of racers becoming celebrities is stupid, if not downright delusional. It’ll take decades, optimistically thinking, for motorcycling to be seen as a serious activity rather than just something that you do in your lungi to fetch cigarettes from the closest shack. There are far too many other things that are far too important that need to be fixed first. Education, poverty, overpopulation, KRK, the list just goes on.
But if there are 2 things that I’d like you to imagine happening before 2020, one of them would be this, the Indian national anthem playing at an international stage, preferably Moto3/Moto2/MotoGP. I don’t give a rat’s ass about nationalism or patriotism, I generally leave the symbols for the symbol minded, but this one time it’d be fun.
And the second is this, I’d like super rich motorcycle racers to have the arrogance to be disappointed that they weren’t given free villas just because they did their job, the thing that made them super rich to begin with. The day that happens, you’ll know times have changed.
Rajini Krishnan is looking for monetary support to retain the Malaysian Superbike championship title. You can help him out here.