How have you seen motorsports progressing over the last two decades?
In the 90’s, racing was essentially rallying. Racing aficionados were more interested in rallying. However, we quickly noticed that the younger generation was more into single-seater racing or Formula 1 to be more precise. So we changed our format. That’s how JK INRC came in and we started racing with the single seater format. And as the years progressed, we started reaching out to the two tier towns in order to bring in more interest. We also got into go-karting to get budding racers and to encourage the two tier cities to get involved with racing. This has produced people like Narayan Kartikeyan, Karun Chandok and Aditya Patel to name a few. The most important thing we learnt during this period was safety. It is an extremely important aspect in racing. Highest possible safety standards are being maintained by JK.
We have also seen an evolution with time and have started two wheeler races as well with the Suzuki Gixxer Cup. It has two races. One is for 12-16 year old riders and the second is 16 and above. So, we are catering to the changing traits in the racing sector.
What are your strategies to make motorsports reach the masses and make it a hit amongst the crowds?
The base of the strategy is to get to the smaller cities and towns. JKNRC has been scouting for potential racers in small towns as well. A lot of work is being done in the north-east like in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. The key idea was to figure out how to reach the masses. In today’s age, social media is one of the best tools for that purpose. That is why we are using Facebook and other social mediums to bring out this message and to take the enthusiasms to smaller towns as well. So we are doing a lot of work to ensure maximum participation from all parts of India.
The number of riders in the Gixxer Cup, especially from northeast speaks volumes about your efforts. Talking about that, I’ve seen around 7-8 female drivers participating in different categories of races. So, what is your take on the women participating in Indian Motorsports? And what are your strategies to draw more women towards motorsports?
As they say that the times are changing. So is JK. And so is racing. This year we saw the participation of an all women team, Ahura Racing, in the race for the first time. Also, now we have women participating in the two wheeler category as well. In addition to popularizing the sport among them, we are already looking for female racers in both 4 wheeler and two wheeler categories.
Unfortunately, Motosports does not get the support that it deserves from the Indian public so what makes JK continue its already two decade long effort to support motorsports?
From the 90’s, the chairman, Dr. Singhania has been very passionate about racing. But apart from the social context or the passion, racing clearly shows the technology of the tyre. So it helps JK Tyre portray its technological prowess as well because the vehicles used in the races are equipped with our tyres.
Being a marketing professional yourself what is the biggest takeaway for you from events like these?
For me it’s about portraying our brand differently. There are not many companies involved with racing. So we can communicate differently and clearly with the motoring enthusiast, with the car driver. This is the best way for us to actually show our brand to the public and also to communicate with the customer. And also, we get feedbacks which in turn are a big help in the development of our products.
Any message for the motorsports enthusiast who are JK tyres’ customers already?
My message to them is to continue to support us in this endeavour of ours. The product that we make and sell, is the product we use on these race cars. So I would like to thank them for their support in all these races that we have.