Saturday, September 30, 2023

Chetan Korada: Living in the Fast Lane

Chetan Korada is on a high! He has just been invited to drive at the FIA Formula 4. He is competing in the MRF FMSCI National racing championship in Formula 1600 in the recently started season. Last year, he finished over all at second place in Formula 1300 at the same Championship. He regularly gets invited to speak to the youth in Chennai, his hometown. He has already spoken at a TEDx event to a resounding response. He is also an entrepreneur with a thriving business and is involved in managing his family’s business interests in beauty and wellness. In addition, he manages to find time to indulge in his passion for music as a popular DJ.

A born racer, he is constantly on the move juggling his multiple hats efficiently, never letting his prosthetic legs limit his ability to excel in anything he chooses to get involved in.

Chetan Korada is clear that his prosthetic legs are a minor detail in his life. Due to an abnormality at birth, a new-born Chetan underwent bilateral amputation from the ankles down. Early in life, he accepted the fact that prosthetics were an integral part of his existence. This realisation helped him quickly adapt to the world around him. Except for a slightly uneven gait, nothing betrays the fact that this young man has prosthetic legs.

His extraordinary passion and never-say-never spirit caught the attention of QNET that has always believed in building champions. Chetan Korada’s impressive achievements in motorsports coupled with his multiple talents as an entrepreneur and motivational speaker make him a perfect role model for young people from ordinary families. Someone who embodies the tenet – If you put your mind to it, anything is possible.

We caught up with Chetan at the start of the new racing season where he is competing in the fastest category in motorsports in India, the premium single seater class known as Formula MRF 1600 which runs on a Ford 1.6L petrol engine. Chetan answers questions about racing, his life and his QNET business.

1.How and why did you get interested in racing?

Cars have always been my first love. I realized this probably at the age of 1 when the rev of any motor would get me very excited and I would be jumping with joy all over the place. My mother would have to buy me a miniature car such as Hot Wheels almost every day just to get me to listen to her. I would draw race cars on every piece of paper I found. My mother realised early on that this was no ordinary childhood phase, but a passion that was a part of me. She encouraged me and pushed me to focus on my dreams of becoming a professional racer.

2. What’s the most important lesson you have learned as a race car driver?

Professional racing has matured me as a person. It has given me the ability to tackle different situations in my life with calm and clarity. I have come to understand that I am not the only one out there fighting for victory. I learnt that staying calm is the key to endure any challenge.

My experience as a racer has taught me that pain, fear and boundaries are all in the mind. When I was able to erase them from my mind, I could see my target very clearly. Racing is physically very challenging. After almost every race, I come back with bruises, burns, and blisters. When I see the black and blue marks on my body after the race, I am usually surprised because I never felt any pain while driving. This just proves how much I love what I do.

3. Do you think there is enough support and recognition for motorsports in a cricket crazy country like India?

Personally, I am a great fan of cricket. I admit that motorsports still doesn’t have the same level of recognition in India yet, but in recent times, things have been changing and right now is a good time to be in motorsports in India. Racing has always been portrayed as a rich man’s sport. While this is true, you have to remember that decades ago when cricket was introduced to this country, it was seen as a game played by British officers, the Indian Royalty and the elites. There were few facilities for cricket back in the day. But the game has persevered and broken barriers and unified the country like nothing else has.

Historically, motorsports started off as a challenge for big automobile companies to showcase their products. That’s why Ferrari and Mercedes continue to do what they are doing in F1 till date.

Motorsports in India is definitely growing. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has been recognised by the Government of India, and is doing a tremendous job in promoting and encouraging the sport. More sponsors are seeing the value of the exposure motorsports brings for their brands and are investing their marketing budget in this area. It’s encouraging to see even the non-auto companies showcasing their brands through racing in India. To those who still haven’t realized the branding potential of this sport, I say – Think globally, not locally.

4. Have you ever felt that having prosthetic limbs puts you at a disadvantage as a driver?

Many times I have wondered if having normal legs would have given me any added advantages on the racetrack. Today, I can say with confidence that being a bi-lateral amputee has probably been my advantage because it opened up so many opportunities. I have been recognised for my achievements and appreciated by people for overcoming my limitations. As I started clinching podium finishes, sympathy has been long forgotten.

I lead a very normal life and do every activity just like another athlete. Motorsports is dangerous, some say its survival of the fittest, and I am able to fit in perfectly.

5. You are a race car driver, a DJ, you manage your family’s business, you are involved with training and development with your mother’s organization, you are also doing the QNet business….How do manage everything? Does it ever get overwhelming?

Music and racing have been an integral part of my life for a long time. They went hand in hand for many years. I have been a professional DJ since 2002. In 2009, I won the MMSC Summer Cup and decided to completely shift my focus to racing, which is when music took a back seat. Now a days, I only play music at VCON events. It has become a tradition and I enjoy it tremendously.

During my initial years in motorsports I was able to manage all my racing related expenses through my earnings in the QNET business. I was able to envision a future in this sport because of the income potential from QNET. As I started to experience success in my QNET business along with my achievements in racing, I began receiving invitations to speak at various forums such as Madras Management Association, TEDx, TieCon etc, where I shared my story. The feedback I received was very encouraging and I decided to polish my public speaking skills by training with established speakers. That’s how I got involved with my mother’s training and development company and helped her expand it into a global operation.

My mother (V-Partner K.Padma) has worked very hard to make sure I am able to pursue my dreams. Seeing my passion for racing, she helped me start with Go Karting back in 2002. She is the sole reason I was able to kick start my racing career.

QNET has believed in me and supported me since 2011 as a sponsor, for which I am grateful. I am proud to drive a car with QNET branding on it, giving the company exposure to a new audience.

I spend a lot of time training my body at the gym, and spend a few hours each day training with race simulation. I also follow a strict diet.While it sounds like a lot, I have learnt to strike a balance. It requires discipline and time management and its possible.

6. What have been the lowest and highest points of your life? How did you overcome the low points?

I have never let failure or disappointments stop me. My attitude has been to learn from my failure and prepare myself for the next challenge. In the early years I would feel very low because I had no one in my family or immediate circle who knew much about motorsports or could guide me in this area. I would simply watch other experienced drivers and try to learn from it. My passion for the motorsports and my focus on my goal, helped me evolve as a driver and get better with each race.

In 2009, I began training with Mr. Akbar Ebrahim (Former F3 Champion), which was very helpful in achieving podium finishes.

I always felt that if I had a stronger and efficient sponsor support I could grow much quicker and higher in motorsports. I truly believe that I’m at this level today because of my student mindset. I believe that every moment in our lives is a learning experience and every one around you is a teacher. Keep learning, be an empty cup!!!

I think my strength is my never-give-up attitude. I’m very dedicated to this sport. My goal is very clear and I am focussed on making a mark in International motorsports.

I’m a bi-lateral amputee and I’m proud to be one because my story has inspired other people to believe they can overcome their limitations to achieve anything they set their mind to.

7. You’ve been involved in QNET for some time. What’s the best thing about this business in your opinion?

With confidence I can say that I am in the best industry. When people work in a regular job they don’t realize how much they miss out on. Which organisation or industry allows you to help a close circle of friends succeed and grow while you experience personal growth and success? I have the opportunity to practice selfless service every day with my team. Each time, someone in my team gets a commission cheque, the joy I see in his or her face is priceless. This is the only business in which others remember you for a small contribution of your time.

I have been part of this business since 2005. I literally grew up with this organisation. QNET is a company with a heart and this business is a people business. The concept of service above self has been the driving force of this organization. This has given us the confidence that QNET is an umbrella one can really depend on for a rainy day.

8. What QNET products can you not live without? 

As a sportsman I love the energy products. The Velociti pendant has helped my energy levels during every driving session. The heat from racing causes dehydration in drivers. I always carry Amezcua products with me and have never been dehydrated. When I train in the gym, I have the Velociti pendant on and I find it helps me stretch my body to different levels comfortably.

I also love the watches from QNET. I haven’t worn any other watch brand apart from BH Mayer and Chairos in the last 10 years. I am very proud to carry our brands everywhere I go. I’m a big fan of the Chairos Grand Prix watch inspired by F1. It appeals to the racer in me and I think it’s a valuable addition to the collection of any motorsports fan.

9. What’s the role of health and fitness in your life as a racer and an entrepreneur?  

Fitness is a top priority for me. I work on my fitness every day. I don’t need huge mass or a heavy body. Racing requires the driver to be really light. Professional race drivers stay within the 63 kilo limit and have to be small framed. A driver loses an average of 2.5 kilos or more during a race weekend, as a lot of water is sweated out during the race and due to experiencing heavy G force. For this I must maintain high endurance levels, develop my strength and a lot of focus.

I follow a healthy diet and eat only necessary proteins. I eat a lot of fruits through out the day. I chose to be an eggeterian since my childhood, which has saved me from gaining unnecessary fat. I’ve managed to develop a good metabolism over the years, which allows me to absorb protein and carbs really quickly.

Eating right, maintaining a fitness routine and using products from Amezcua and the Velociti pendant have given me plenty of energy to maintain the multiple aspects of my life with ease.

10.What does 2016 look like for you?

I am looking forward to participating in the MRF international challenge (Formula Renault 2000), which is taking place during the second half of 2016. I will be driving 16 races as part of this. These races will take place in Abu Dabhi, Bahrain, Dubai and India. I will also be competing against F3, F2 and GP2 drivers from different parts of the world, and these include sons and grandsons of former Formula One champions. This year is very exciting with a basket of great opportunities to showcase my talent.

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