Photo courtesy of Bart Dehaese

India’s Advait Deodhar has enjoyed a stellar rookie season in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Elite 2 class this year, as the defending Elite Club champion scored Top 10 finishes in all but one race that he took part so far. Some of his best drives include when he took his first podium finish in the chaotic first race at Brands Hatch and when he recovered from an early spin to score a 7th place finish in the second race at Most.

Deodhar currently sits in 5th in the championship standings – 43 points behind championship leader Giorgio Maggi – and given his current form so far, he is likely going to play a major part in the upcoming Playoffs.

However, his season has been marred by continuous funding issues. Originally contracted to drive for Dexwet-DF1 Racing in the No. 66 team, Deodhar was replaced by Lasse Sørensen at Franciacorta due to funding issues and had to jump from one team to another before finally finding a home at CAAL Racing to become the Elite 2 teammate of Mauro Trione in the No. 31 team starting from Brands Hatch.

Even then, his struggles did not stop as he nearly missed the races at Most had he didn’t receive a last-minute sponsorship backing that allowed him to race at the Czech Republic and would ultimately miss the sole oval round at Venray, once again due to sponsorship issues. Reportedly, he still hasn’t secured enough funding to be able to compete in the upcoming Playoff races at Hockenheim and Zolder.

Despite this, Deodhar remains positive on his future and to raise awareness for any potential sponsors that want to further finance his racing career, the Mumbai-born driver has approached us to do an exclusive, two-parter interview that we announced yesterday on our Twitter account.

Today is the first part of these exclusive interview and will be focusing on the start of his racing career, how Deodhar got to know the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, and his 2019 season so far. The second part of this exclusive interview will be released tomorrow.

We are thankful to Advait Deodhar for making this into a reality and we wished him the best of luck for both the upcoming 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Playoffs and the future of his racing career.

You started your racing career in India in the JK and MRF Series? What’s the feeling that you had when you made your racing debut?

Advait Deodhar: “It’s been quite a journey since then! I had not raced before so I started in the JK and MRF series in India in the FLGB-4 and the FF1600 series in 2012 as after graduation, I wanted to chase my motor-racing dream. Without a karting background, I had a lot to catch up on but this was a good way to start and I really worked hard on the simulator and with the other drivers to learn how to drive a race car.”

Outside of your racing activities, you work as a sales and charter broker for TJB Super Yachts. How do you balance things between your job and your racing career?

Deodhar: “I came to the UK to take my racing forward in 2015. However, I did not manage to raise any sponsorship. I searched for a job which allowed me the opportunity to fund myself. I work at TJB Super Yachts as a sales and charter broker and put all my earnings into the racing. It’s not easy but I’ve had to work really hard to make it happen. It’s tough balancing the two but they have to go hand in hand to work!”

When was the first time you heard about the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series?

Deodhar: “Toward the end of 2017 when I was looking for a series to compete in.”

When was the first time you tested a NASCAR car and how would you describe the feeling that you have after driving it?

Deodhar: “I tested it for 30 minutes in January 2018 when I was invited by Lucas Lasserre and Jerome [Galpin, NWES founder and CEO]. I hadn’t driven a race car in a few years and had never driven something with so much power! It was amazing and surpassed my expectations. I honestly thought it would be heavy and sluggish. I was very impressed by how well setup and agile it is!”

How popular is NASCAR in India? I can’t imagine there’s many fans of NASCAR in India to be honest…

Deodhar: “Unfortunately, not at all! Some people have heard of it but only think it’s big ovals in America. Hopefully I can change that!”

What’s the biggest difference between driving a single seater car and a NASCAR car?

Deodhar: “I can fit! I’m 6’4 so it was always hard to fit in the single seaters. It’s very different in terms of driving style. It’s like black and white. Single seaters are light and agile. Stock cars are heavy, more power, wider wheels so the driving is extremely different.”

You made your Elite 2 debut at Brands Hatch last year. It wasn’t exactly the best debut to be honest, but were you surprised at the jump that you had to make to be able to compete in Elite 2 in comparison to Elite Club?

Deodhar: “Yes, I did 2 races in 2018. I wasn’t enjoying Elite Club as it isn’t really racing so I wanted to race! Unfortunately, the debut didn’t go well but hey you live and learn! I’m glad I tried as it gave me an idea of how high the level is. However, this year the level is on a lot higher!”

Photo courtesy of Michael Großgarten

I’m sure the 2019 season have exceeded your expectations. What’s your best memory of the season so far?

Deodhar: “Yes and no. I have immense self-belief and I work hard. However, the level of drivers this year is extremely high (the highest the series has ever had) and I am relatively very inexperienced in comparison. I’m happy with where I am in the Championship. However, having to jump from team to team really hampered the initial few rounds for me. I wish I didn’t have to jump around so much and had just been with one team.

Best memory I’d say is getting on the podium at Brands [Hatch] in front of a lot of my friends and colleagues who were present.“

Are you surprised that you’re currently fifth in the championship and have a realistic chance to win the title?

Deodhar: “Same as above, yes and no. It’s a shame I had to miss Venray with lack of funds, thus dropping me down to 5th [in the championship]. However, I feel like I’ve adapted well with this car and I have a realistic shot at the title!”

What are your expectations for the Playoff races? Do you think you have a shot to win the title?

Deodhar: “Honestly, I think I have a shot. There’s something about Hockenheim I love. I did my 2nd Elite 2 race there last year and loved the circuit. I feel confident going into this round. I’m working very hard on my physical fitness and on the simulator. I believe I can fight for this title.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this exclusive interview…

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Advait Deodhar.

One thought on “Questions with India’s NASCAR Talent Advait Deodhar – Part 1

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