“I am Nirmal Umashankar from Chennai. I am 19 years old. I started in fun-karting at the age of 9 when my dad read a article in newspaper about the new track opened in Chennai(ECR) named kart attack. I got fascinated by the speed and wanted to go there every Sunday evening. Which i continued for one year then a new track opened called ECR speedway so we went there. We started the same schedule there . Every sunday go there and have fun until a day I got noticed by someone. It was Akbar Ebrahim who was the owner of track . He saw me and asked my dad to join me in professional karting.
My first day in professional karting was at Lahari resorts ( Hyderabad) March 2013. The problem I got there was I was only 12 years old but I was too tall for the micro kart . So I had to start with junior straight away . Days passed . I participated in rotax championship 2013 finished 9th out of 17 drivers
Year 2014– participated in rotax championship and finished 7th out of 16
Year 2015– participated in kart open and finished runner up – my first podium
Participated in rotax championship and finished 3rd overall also awarded with Akbar Ebrahim most improved karter of the year . Since national champions – Akash Gowda and Mohammad nalwalla were elder than 16 . I was asked to represent India in the rotax max World finals held at Portugal . It was my first international exposure..
I finished 38th out of 72nd in overall
Year 2016– participated in rotax championship(junior) and finished 4th overall with 3 podiums
Year 2017– participated in rotax championship (senior) and finished 2nd overall and best driver of the year award.
Participated in Formula BMW and finished 6th overall and rookie champion that year.
Year 2018 – participated in first LGB and finished 3rd overall
Participated in Formula 1600 and finished 7th overall with two podiums
Participated in Formula BMW and finished 5th overall with one win and two 2nd places
Year 2019 – participated in x30 challenge and won the National championship with 13wins out of 20races
Participated in MRF 1600 and finished 5th overall with three ( runner up places )
Represented India in IAME World finals held at Lemans and finished 63rd out of 108.
I am truly grateful to Akabar uncle and my dad for their constant support throughout my career.”Nirmal Umashankar said.
What is the difference between Dry race and wet race?How do you need to change your driving for that?
Driving on the limit in the dry is hard enough, but wet conditions on a track makes things very difficult indeed. If it starts raining, you’ll need to adopt your driving style and even make some adjustments to your car.
The first thing to think about is the decrease in friction between the contact patch and the road. This means you’ll need to brake earlier, corner at a lower speed and squeeze on the power in an even more progressive way. In general, slow down or you risk sliding off the track.
How was your international experience at Lemans?
It was one crazy adventure to be honest. It was my second time representing India in the world finals . The last time I did was in 2015 rotax world finals at Portugal. This time it was IAME world finals at Lemans. The track layout was just amazing which combines both fast , slow , medium speed corners with a long straight. The experience I got from driving was amazing. The weather was constantly changing throughout the days. So I got the chance to drive in the rain which I usually don’t get in India. Initally I was slower in the rain but as the weekend progressed I started to learn the technique to manage it in rain. The last race was quite a unfortunate one since I had a life threatening accident. I was on the tail of one guy and suddenly in middle of a chicane he slowed down because he had a problem with his engine . I had to react as fast as I could since it was a wet race . I tried my best but my right front wheel touched his rear and I flipped 20 feet in the air and fell on the ground and the kart landed on me . I had a brain concussion and a shoulder muscle tear. Fortunately I was rushed to the hospital and I recovered quickly.
Do you think Karting is the base for formula racing Or you can start directly?
Yes I have to agree that karting is the base for all formula racing series. The experience you get from karting is nothing less than driving a formula 4. Even formula 1 drivers go for karting in their free time to gain experience. The physical fitness required in driving a kart is more than that of a formula 4 car.
As you said you started directly from Junior.It must be difficult for your to compete with other professional racer.
Yes it was crazy . I was youngest on the grid with one of the best drivers from our country such as Kush maini , Krishnaraj mahadik , Akash Gowda , Mira erda , Abirath shetty. I got a lot of experience racing against them and I started to get on par with them in my second year of karting which was pretty good for me .
How did karting help you for formula racing?
Karting is the fundamental for racing as I said . The experience you get from karting will surely help you when you graduate into formula cars. The basics such as late braking and understanding about the machine such as setup of the car. We tend to change setup of the kart throughout a race weekend like changing the carburettor setup , trying a different axle , changing the camber and toe for better handling etc . These things will help a lot while driving a formula car.
Do you want to share something about physical fitness required for racing?
Physical fitness. It is one of the most important aspect for a racing driver. The more physical fitness you have the more mental stability you will have during a tough race. When you get tired then you tend to lose concentration which leads to driving error and mistakes. So it’s always important to stay fit during a race weekend to be in the best form for winning races.