Advait Deodhar | Hungry to Succeed


Advait Deodhar has a very unique background for a racing driver. Having studied Automotive Design in Turin he took a sudden U-Turn and plonked himself in a race car to chase his dreams. Having successfully caught up with the dream, he now has the hard and gruelling climb to the top. A late bloomer in the racing world, he's still very young where it counts and has the motivation to work hard. 

His design background and ability to express his thoughts clearly made him a special driver for me to interview and hence you might find the interview dragging on for a bit. His enthusiasm is infectious and it's hard not to like him and he has found a new fan in me. This lad will go places, mark my words.

sap. The first week of design school. Drawing 101. The assignment? Draw freehand lines till you can’t tell them apart from the ones drawn with a ruler. surely some part of your design education must’ve helped in your racing career? And can you still draw straight lines without the help of a ruler?
Advait: Funnily enough, nothing from my design school helped my racing career apart from the fact that I realised I really wanted to be a racing driver and not a designer! If I’d studied Automotive Engineering, that would have be a real benefit! I haven’t tried the straight lines in a long time. Think I need to give it a go! 

sap. There’s no other way to put it, but you’re quite late to the motorsport party. Most drivers start their careers even before they turn 10. You formally started your career on what most people would call the wrong side of 20. But that lack of experience hasn’t seemed to faze you, or reflect on your speed. How would you describe the transition from drawing cars to racing them? 
Advait: I jumped into a race car 6 days after I graduated. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. More than driving the car fast, I struggled with race- craft since I had never ‘raced’ before and I didn’t want to crash on my first weekend and have a big fat bill.

sap. Your impending entry into the Porsche Careera Cup GB is a very exciting, and brave one. It is without doubt one of the most closely fought single make series out there. What is your plan of action?
Advait: It is a HUGE step up for me. I’m now shifting to the sports car side of racing and aiming to reach the World Endurance Championship. My main plan of action is to get the money. I’ve been working on this program for 21 months now! I’ll worry about the driving bit once I’ve got the funds.

sap. You have started multiple Youtube channels-Advait Deodhar | Target Plus One which is a great insight into a young racers life. Your videos highlight the work you have to put in behind the scenes and you have also explained the difference in driving styles. Was there any motive behind creating the Youtube channels?
Advait: I’d say my youtube channels and everything else on the internet is probably 5% of the effort I put in. The reason I created the channels is to build awareness about myself and about the sport for people in IndiAdvait: I’m so passionate about all forms of Motorsport and so I thought I should start Target Plus One to cover junior series and give advice to young drivers. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to follow up with it.

sap. Giving up a safe and solid career in design, and jumping into a life where the only thing that is certain is the uncertainty involved in it…why Advait, why?
Advait: I believe the worst emotion a human being can suffer from is regret. I eat,sleep breathe Motorsport and have done so since I was 4 years old. I have a one-track mind (no pun intended). My heart wasn’t in Design and I said that I didn’t want to be 50 years old, look back on life and say ‘what if’? I had to give it a shot! I’d never be content in life if I didn’t and I won’t be until I succeed.

sap. A lot of us don’t realise it, and you’ve been droning on and on about this for the longest time; speed and talent isn’t the only thing that will get you into the higher echelons of motorsport, the complete package is what will get you there. The package consisting of a drivers personality, fitness, marketing, funding, sponsorship, etc. Now I know you claim your design education didn’t help you at all, but this positively reeks of a design approach toward racing. How did you come to this concept of being the complete package? (in other words, explain your design process)

Advait: In Motorsport, you could be the biggest talent in the world. However, talent only gets you to a certain point. Motorsport is the most expensive sport on the planet. In order to move forward, you need money, BIG MONEY. As crass as it sounds, in Motorsport, ‘no money no honey’. I have studied the sport and other successful drivers, to realise what it takes in order to make it.

A driver being fit is a given. If a driver doesn’t know that, he shouldn’t be in the sport. Motorsport is a business at the end of the day. The driver needs to become a marketable product such that companies want to have their logos on his car and make him/her the face of their product / company. At the end of the day, they are paying the bills for you to sit in the car.

sap. You have some thoughts on a different system of sponsorship as opposed to the classic racing sponsorship format. Could you elaborate on that?
Advait: Stickers on the car are 10% of what Motorsport sponsorship is all about. It’s all about activation and the add-ons of a Motorsport partnership. The honest truth is, that if a company ‘just’ places logos on the car and spends ridiculous amounts of money, it’s as good as throwing money away. Nobody in their right mind will sponsor a car solely for that purpose.

Sell the sponsor, corporate entertainment at race weekends, use the car for promotional activities, make unique Motorsport merchandise for the company, put together B2B deals for the company through your contacts. If a sponsor expects ‘X’ worth of value for investing in you, find a way to make it ‘10X’. 

sap. How do you prep for a race weekend? Does playing racing games help at all?
Advait: There’s two kinds of drivers on the planet. The one’s that swear by a simulator and the ones that don’t. I’m the former. I don’t have a karting background so I learned and improved my craft by spending hours on Rfactor. Rfactor with a proper setup makes a WORLD of a difference and I advise it to all drivers.

sap. What characteristics do you prefer your car setup to have?
Advait: I like a slight bit of oversteer.

sap. What are you thinking of when on a full attack qualifying lap? And during a race?
Advait: I am a very excitable person, so I usually need to calm myself down before quali/races. When i’m doing a full attack quali lap, I push all other thoughts out and just go for it. In the race, i’m usually more composed as one needs to be constantly aware of what’s happening around you. I’m always flat-out thought! 

sap. Do you have any downtime at all? If so how do you chill?
Advait: My mind is always thinking about something around Motorsport 24/7. Where will I’ll find the money for the next race, where I screwed up in the last one, how I can better myself etc.

sap. What is the disadvantage Indian drivers suffer from in comparison to their European counterparts?
Advait: Our cars are not as developed as European cars. However, we are moving forward slowly but surely. We also only have 3 tracks in the country. No proper simulator centres for driver development. 

sap. Who is the fastest racing driver right now? (Hint: Kimi Raikkonen)
Advait: Advait Deodhar. In Formula One I’d say Lewis, Seb and probably Max Verstappen. However, I’m also a big fan of future stars. Stoffel Vandoorne is one of my favourite drivers (I’ve followed his career since 2012 in Formula Renault) and believe he is destined for big things! Another driver I’m a fan of is Robin Frijns who is probably the biggest talent lost to Formula One in the past 20 years.
sap. Describe your dream race. Which car, where, and against whom?
Advait: A front running Formula One car(any era pre 2013) around Spa Francorchamps in mixed weather conditions in a grid with Lewis, Seb, Prost, Senna, Mansell, Alonso, Gilles Villeneuve, Max Verstappen, Nelson Piquet senior, Vandoorne, Frijns, Kimi(2005), Schumacher and a few more.
sap. What do you think about in the shower?
Advait: Beautiful women.

sap. You have to get from Andheri to Colaba as fast as you can. What would you do?
Advait: Take the train if it’s daytime.

sap. Your dream two-car garage.
Advait: Ferrari F50 & the Porsche(991) 911 GT3 RS.

sap. Let’s talk about every young Indian’s worst nightmare. situation: family gathering. A relative comes up to you and asks the dreaded questions. “so what are you doing for your career beta?” Everyone stops talking and turns around to face you like some Doctor Who episode, waiting for your answer. How do you answer the question?
Advait: Honestly. I’m chasing the dream and nothing will come in my way.

sap. What do you do to drive quicker on a race track? Any advice for track-day punters?
Advait: Full attack always. But remember, smooth is fast. Learn the limits of the car before you put in a flat-out lap.

sap. What advice can you give us, the bravest of the brave, the most skilled of the skilled, the ones who drive on Indian roads, as a racing driver?
Advait: Drive safely on Indian roads. You may be the world’s most skilled driver but remember that there’s millions of bufoons out there who don’t pay attention to the rules. Always respect others on the road. If you want to drive fast, go do it on a track. Don’t drive fast on the roads where others lives are at risk.

sap. Do you still get driving tips from your parents when you’re driving them around?
Advait: I’d have a million dollars if I got a dime for everytime I’m told "Slow down Advait, this is not your race-track".

sap. Your addictions?
Advait: Speed and chocolate.

sap. India is one of the most important economies in the new world order, and with fellow Indians starting to creep up the rankings in other sports and draw lots of commercial and media attention, why are most of us still not aware of the exploits of Indian racers abroad? We’ve seen bursts of media coverage when Narain raced in F1, and when the F1 carnival came calling in at the Buddh circuit, but nothing more than that. What do you think needs to done?
Advait: A lot needs to be done. In my opinion, interest for the sport will really develop when India has its first real “Motor-racing star”, our very own Lewis Hamilton / James Hunt. The Indian mentality likes the ‘star’ image. In my short time in the sport, I believe did my level best to generate as much publicity as I could for myself and for the sport in India and I strongly believe that I played a role in getting more coverage for the sport in 2014-2015. After that, I’ve started to see other drivers try and get coverage for themselves, thus promoting the sport. 

sap. What is your plan for the next year or so?
Advait: Find/make the money to race the Porsche Carrera Cup. 

Rapid Fire

sap. Your starter Pokemon? 
Advait: Pikachu?

sap. TV show you’re binging on right now?
Advait: Empire / Billions / Suits / Narcos

sap. Delhi Metro or Bombay Local? 
Advait: Bombay local

sap. Which song is currently stuck in your head?
Advait: Something About You-Hayden James(Pete Tong mix)

sap. Pre-race ritual? 
Advait: Listen to some some music and get in the zone.

sap. Can you hit the dab?
Advait: No

sap. Open Wheel/Touring?
Advait: Mix of both

sap. Funniest joke you know of?
Advait: Donald Trump

sap. Lastly, what can we, as fans do to support you guys?
Advait: Try and promote the Motorsport in general as much as you can and try to follow Indian Motorsport as well. National racing can be watched on various live-streams.

It was so much fun reading Advait's answers. I'm really happy for him as he's facing his dreams and the struggle that comes with it head on. His fitness regime is also pretty epic and his journey is quite inspiring. Thank you for taking time for this interview! 

Okay so Advait needs to learn how to dab, and select a correct starter Pokemon, because these are things you need to know but otherwise he's pretty sorted. May the force be with you!

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