Racing into the future
UAE-based pro karting teen racer Anshul Gandhi on pinning his hopes on a career on the tracks, navigating disappointments, and giving the sport his "everything"
At 15, Indian expat Anshul Gandhi has a real passion for cars. But, unlike his peers, he's taken his love for wheels up a notch - to become one of the UAE's emerging pro kart racers.
"Racing is my life," says Anshul, who's competed in over 60 races. "Becoming a Formula1 racer is my dream and I'm working towards it every day."
Starting his pro karting career in 2017, he has become one to look out for in the last two years and progressed at a pace that has surprised many. In his third year of karting, Anshul was named the IAME 2019-20 Champion with the support of his team, Brand Racing. The series is among the most exciting kart racing championships in the Middle East hosted by RAK Track IAME X30, UAE under EMSO guidelines.
With thousands of driving hours and more than 60,000 laps in training and racing under his belt, Anshul's other key achievements include winning the IAME UAE championship, representing the UAE in 2019 at IAME World Final at Le Mans, France; placing first on the F1 Track in YAS; and winning 10 podiums.
The youngster's parents Manoj and Preeti Gandhi moved to UAE in 2015 to support Anshul's racing dreams. Enrolling him into the right school and academies were crucial in his training and exposure to the right infrastructure and opportunities.
"There's a large variety of tracks across the Emirates that's helped diversify my skills," says the teen. "Racing in extreme temperatures has upped my fitness and endurance, in contrast to racers coming in from Europe, thus giving me an edge."
Echoing the sentiment, Anshul's dad Manoj adds, "The standards are great; the UAE is a well-known base for international games and being a melting pot of culture. It attracts a lot of diversity and racers from around the world that broadens Anshul's views and exposure."
Anshul was looking forward to competing at the British and European Karting Championship this summer, but had to put those plans on hold due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. He has been using the lockdown to groom himself to become better by learning the mechanical details of the game instead. "Racing is an intensively mental and physical sport; there are so many aspects to it that I didn't know before," he says.
"I am also engaging in online races, although it is not as tiring. Using the simulator has been helpful, as it allows me to make split-second decisions and improve motor skills to control the kart. Apart from that, I also take long runs, and focus on fitness and diet."
The youngster espouses lessons his experiences have taught him. "Racing, for me, isn't just about the win - it's about learning from the experience, even when it didn't go well," he says.
"I won my first race and started getting a better grip on racing. I was on a winning high - but my next race was absolutely terrible, where I wasn't able to finish, as my steering snapped; in another race, I faced a tyre puncture. I realised that anything can happen on the track and one needs to [learn to] move on."
He is thankful for a strong support system that keeps him going. "I would not be where I am without my family and friends."
On asking him what he would like to share with other youngsters who aspire to get into racing, he says, "A lot of people come into racing thinking it's as simple as a car with a steering wheel - but it's a lot more than that! Like any sport, results don't come instantly and, sometimes, that can really get you down. But the key to this sport is to gain experience and learn from every race. If you want to excel, you have to dedicate your time, body and everything into the sport. Don't give up, don't beat yourself up, and don't let yourself down at any time," says Anshul, who is eagerly awaiting a new season next month and excited at the thought of getting back on the track.