Arjun Narendran - Raring to Race

Arjun Narendran talks with You & I

He’s young, confident, and ready to take on the world of racing. Having won many accolades, Arjun says this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tell us about yourself and what you’re up to currently?
I’m a computer science engineer currently finishing up my Master’s in management at the University of Bath in the UK. I’m currently participating in the Indian National Touring Car Championship, which is the highest category for touring cars in India. I’ve won three championships in a row (2014, 15, 16), and I’m trailing by seven points with two races to go. I’m hoping to win the championship to make it four in a row.

How did you develop an interest in racing?
As a kid I was always interested in cars and speed. I think my dad and his friends made me watch a lot of Formula One when I was younger, instead of cartoons. I grew up listening to my dad and uncles telling me all their racing stories, since my dad’s very close friends were into motorsport and were national champions. I wanted to get into racing when I was a young kid but my mother was extremely scared; as you know people think racing is very dangerous. Eventually I managed to convince them and started when I was 17. That’s pretty late if you want to make a career in motorsports, but it’s better late than never.

Racing is a very competitive sport. How do you keep up with the required mental and physical fitness?
Racing drivers are extremely fit. Friends often ask me why I workout so much or follow a strict diet. It’s hard for a person who is not racing to understand how it feels inside the car when you aren’t really fit. The G-forces are massive as you keep driving faster cars and your cardio levels are high. I have a fixed fitness regime that I follow. Physical and mental conditioning is taken care by “Quantum Leap Performance” run by Ramji Srinivasan, who was the Indian cricket team’s fitness coach and is currently training all the top racers in India. I workout twice a day and have about five meals spaced out throughout.

What’s been the most exciting milestone for you in your career so far ?
My first pole position in 2013 will always be very special, as I qualified ahead of veterans like N. Leelakrishnan, Arjun Balu, and V. Ramnarayananat my home race. I’ve also had some really intense races so far and enjoy every single race I drive. Sitting in the race car always made me feel better and it is a stress buster. Maybe I have that little edge over some of the others because I enjoy driving around the track.

What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I love going to the gym. So I don’t miss going even after the racing season. I am a big time foodie, so I try new places and have a chilled out barbecue at home with close friends and family. Barbecuing is my all-time favourite pastime. I’m not much into literature, but that’s something I would like to start soon.

What’s next for you?
My main focus is to win the 2017 championship. I’ve been looking at different options abroad and everything is pretty expensive. If I am able to pool some money I would be driving the TCR championship in Europe. If not, I will continue my championship in India and learn how to rally. I’ve been wanting to learn how to rally but never had the time or the money to do it. In a couple of years I would like to see myself in a British touring car, which is a long-term racing goal.

Apart from racing, I’m going to be finishing my Master’s next month, so I will be working in a company. I have a couple of projects in mind that I will be executing as soon as I get back from the UK.    

Have there been any particular mentors who have helped you along the way?
There are three veterans who have been with me ever since I started. The first year V. Ramnarayan and Naren Kumar got me started with the basics, and from then on it was N. Leelakrishnan who has been continuously training me and helping me improve race after race. I would to thank all of them for helping me.        – as told to Suneela