Strangebrew’s Phil Strachan introduces us to yet another of his talented and far from bland friends. Back in 2013, Phil introduced Buckinghamshire rising star Tom Ingram to Richard Rosser and B4 following his success in winning the Ginettta GT Supercup Championship – see issue 29. Since then, Tom has gone on to secure a regular drive with Speedworks and he is still sponsored by Hansford Sensors of High Wycombe in the highly competitive British Touring Car Championship. He very quickly became a major title contender, winning the Independent Championship in both 2017 and 2018 and only very narrowly missing winning the BTCC Championship outright in 2018. Now in a works Toyota, he is certain to be a major player in 2019.
When I first met Advait Deodhar back in early 2016, it was immediately apparent to me that he shared many qualities with Tom Ingram – namely commitment, determination and professionalism combined with raw ability, sublime racecraft and the required work ethic to succeed. He struck me as a born winner, someone who was really going to go places and lead from the front and someone who would be a wonderful ambassador for any team, business, brand or individual who chose to work with and support him. From that early meeting, we have become very good friends.
As I already knew from my contact with Tom, motor racing is an incredibly competitive business long before getting in a car or getting on the grid. Securing a drive, getting a seat to demonstrate your ability, can take a very long time and a lot of effort – and it can also be a very expensive business.
As fans of Formula One will know, many of the drivers have to pay for their seats, for the privilege to compete. Rather than being paid to drive and winning the seat purely on the merits of ability, they pay for their right to drive – either themselves or through the sponsors and sponsorship monies they can bring to the party. Money talks and often the best and most deserving drivers miss out simply because they have not got or cannot raise the monies to fund their drives. Unfortunately, the same is true of other forms of motorsport.
Advait, you were born in Mumbai and you had done very well in your early years of motor racing in India from 2012 to 2014. You had a great track record, with many podiums in all categories that you competed in even though you did not start racing until you were 22 after you graduated in automotive design. So what brought you to the UK in 2015?
It was quite simply the fact that the UK, and in particular the south of England, is the home of motor racing and of so many of the leading racing teams across all forms of motorsport. After a lot of hard work and a quick career progression in India, I needed to step up to the next level. It was a no brainer really and so I took a leap of faith and relocated to London on a one way ticket. I was determined to succeed and I saw this as the best way to give myself the opportunity to do so.
Your chosen route to success does not follow the well trodden path through the various single seater formulas and on perhaps one day to Formula One – you are looking to go into Le Mans style endurance racing which is a very different thing indeed.
That is correct. This has great appeal for me and to date my ideal route forward has been to secure a drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. However, this is easier said than done, the biggest problem being funding to ‘buy’ the seat/the drive with a team either on a season long basis or on a race by race basis. I have worked very hard for three and a half years trying to raise the funds for a drive in this series but have been unsuccessful so far.
I have heard that it can cost many thousands per race to buy a drive in such categories, so I totally understand the need for you to find a sponsor who could also benefit from your success and similarly from your role as an ambassador for them. Ideally, you have to be looking for a major, series-long sponsor and some secondary sponsors too – perhaps on a race by race basis.
Absolutely correct – it is not a cheap game. It costs upwards of £210,000 per season to drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. What I really need is a sponsor/sponsors who love cars and motor racing and who believe in my ability and the exposure and return that they will get from their investment and my role as an ambassador for their business or brand.
Your first competitive racing since you came to the UK at the end of 2015 was in fact the Euro Nascar Elite Club Championship in 2018 which incredibly you then proceeded to win on your debut – What else have you been doing in the intervening time to keep your hand in and to earn some money to fund your racing?
I had no money when I came to the UK and over the last few years, while seeking sponsorship, I have been employed and trusted in specialist driving and instructing roles including:
Working at select events with Rolls Royce, delivering track experiences in all their cars for their Clients at Millbrook, Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit and MYRA Proving Ground.
Working extensively with Alfa Romeo and Abarth on-track and on proving grounds in their full range of models.
In 2016 and 2017, I worked as a racing instructor at Thruxton Motor Racing Circuit.
I am also a certified BMW Performance Instructor, doing extensive work with BMW on track activities with their M range of cars and I got a job as a yacht
charter & sales broker with TJB Super Yachts and have been working extremely hard on that front. I’ve been funding my racing through those earnings.
Impressive – and exciting. You are clearly held in very high esteem by these quality brands. So, what does the future hold for you in racing terms?
Having won the Elite Club category in my 2018 Euro Nascar debut year, I made the decision to move up to the next Elite 2 level for 2019 in the Nascar Whelen Euro Series. It is a very full 8 weekend/16 race Championship that commences in Valencia on 13/14 April and runs through to the final race in Zolder on 5/6 October. Home interest is at Brands Hatch on 1/2 June.
Having been with you as one of your sponsors at the Brands Hatch weekend last year when you had your first drive in the Elite 2 Category, I can certainly vouch for the very close racing that this increasingly popular Euro Nascar series delivers.
Yes, it really is very close racing on some of the most challenging and historic racetracks in Europe including Hockenheim – and I am really looking forward to it. The cars are very fast and very well set up and there is a very high calibre of drivers this year – indeed, Jacques Villeneuve, the1997 Formula One World Champion, is competing in Elite 1.
At this moment, I am uncertain exactly what the longer term holds for me but my first drive in the Euro Nascar 2019 Elite 2 Category is in Valencia on the weekend of 13/14 April in the Mustang of the Austrian Dexwet-DF1 Racing Team.
I met Norbert and his team at Brands Hatch and they are certainly very well organised and prepare the cars very well – but my big question is how are you funding the drive at Valencia and how are you planning to fund your drives across the full season?
I am still looking for sponsors large or small, ideally across the whole series or on a race by race basis just as you sponsored me last year at Brands Hatch. You know how affordable the sponsorship is with packages starting at hundreds of pounds for secondary sponsors. But it is really tough. At the moment, I am investing every penny that I have and every penny that I earn, including what I can earn from my role as a charter and sales broker with TJB Super Yachts, to try to secure drives. But it truly is a hand to mouth, race by race existence just now. I am determined to succeed and will continue my search for suitable primary and secondary sponsorship partners.
Your determination, commitment and ability are not in doubt or in short supply, Advait. What you do need though is the kind of break that Tom Ingram got when he was successful in being selected to join Speedworks and being sponsored by Hansford Sensors of High Wycombe who had the vision to see his potential and to believe in Tom and in the positive benefits they would get from sponsoring him and being associated with him.
That is exactly what I need, Phil – and your support and encouragement is very much appreciated.
I wish you all the very best in Euro Nascar in 2019, Advait, and I will certainly be at Brands Hatch in June to watch you compete. I have absolutely no doubt that any business, brand or individual who decides to sponsor you will be well rewarded by being associated with you and will benefit from having you as an ambassador.
ANYONE WISHING TO DISCUSS PRIMARY OR SECONDARY SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AT BRANDS HATCH OR OTHER CIRCUITS CAN CONTACT ADVAIT DIRECTLY ON 07443 775353.