‘A man’s home is his castle, but his garage is his sanctuary,’ reads the garage board that houses a car fanatic's delight. An array of colourful, supercars welcome you warmly, enough to introduce you to the man whose passion for motorsports gave India its first supercar club. Meet Gautam Hari Singhania, chairman and managing director, Raymond India, who with his passion for motorsports, treasures the title of being the first Indian to finish second in the overall championship at the Ferrari Challenge Series in 2015.
Since childhood, cars were never passé for Singhania. He fondly remembers getting his first go-kart at the age of four, and after that, there was no looking back. “The fascination grew with time. Eventually, I started driving and developed an urge to turn my fascination for these supercars into my passion,” he says. And that is exactly what Singhania did. The 51-year-old corporate honcho decided to take a leap into competitive motorsports and ended up as a wild card entrant in the World Finale of the 2014 Ferrari Challenge, only to finish the race in the 3rd category. But the race had just begun.
Singhania then geared up for the Ferrari Challenge Series in 2015, but this time with the hunger of winning. The races were to be held over seven weekends in the year on the racetracks across Europe. Singhania decided to train with former F1 driver Andrea Montermini and he turned out to be the best mentor to fuel Singhania’s desire for winning both on the physical and mental front.
Where physical training required focus, commitment and discipline at all times, mental training was the most challenging. “Mentally, you have to approach the race with a mindset. If you lose in your mind, you are going to lose the race. You need to do things quickly, take the right turn at the right moment and judge the speed,” he explains.
With rigorous training and a disciplined lifestyle, Singhania started the challenge with a bang and ended up third in the first round. The second round, however, was a game-changer. The race was scheduled to take place at Mugello in Italy — a difficult and technical circuit. Singhania had a life threatening experience during the race when he crashed his car twice, each at a speed of 160 and 180 km/hour and thus, he failed to qualify.
The near-death experience, ushered in advice from well-wishers to quit the sport altogether. But, quitting was the last thing on his mind. Singhania bounced back and ended up winning the race by 234 thousandth of a second in the 40 minute race on the same track in Mugello. But there was something about the win that made it special. “It was a phenomenal feeling when the national anthem was being played at Mugello for the first time on a Ferrari track. That’s what you keep aiming for,” he states proudly.
The hunger to win keeps Singhania going. And this is seen from his strategy at Raymond. “Winning is a mindset, if you step out with this mindset, coming second is just not enough. It has made me more competitive in business and I know, even here, losing is not an option,” he affirms, specifically highlighting how he has learned to value time.
Ask him if motorsports has changed him as a person and he replies promptly, “I am a lot more agile, focused and disciplined.” With motorsports yet at a nascent stage in India owing to terms like “risky” and “rash” associated with it, Singhania has a different approach. “Walking on the road in most parts of India can be dangerous too. Every sport comes with a risk. If you take your precautions, you should be fine,” he signs off nonchalantly.