When we caught up with 35-year-old Sonu Sundeep Singh Sokhi and 31-year-old Amit Sharma on a sunny afternoon, they were engrossed in chalking out strategies on drag racing in their office, animatedly looking through video footages from their past performances.
The Hyderabadi duo’s eye-catching performance at last year’s World Finals of Motorcycle Drag Racing earned them an entry to the coveted championship this year, too, which will be held in Georgia (from November 22-24). Incidentally, last year, their entry was India’s first-ever representation in the race. Even this year, they’re the only ones representing the country. “The event is tipped to be the ultimate showdown of racers from across the world, so it’s a great honour to be part of it for the second time; we’re pumped up,” says Sonu.
Racing with the best
The 400 metres (one-fourth mile) race features hundreds of racers from across the world, with the fastest racer winning the title. The young men, who will ride the Kawasaki Ninja ZX 14 R, a turbocharged version, will compete in both the Street ET Class as well as the Super Comp categories. “Last year, we got an insight into the global perceptions on drag racing and the technical aspects about the sport. To better prepare this time, get used to the chilly weather conditions and racing track, etc., we’re heading there a few days in advance. Eleven-time World Champion Ricky Gadson of the US will train us for three days,” says Sonu, who has already won more than 70 championship titles.
For the love of racing
Unlike Sonu, who was inspired to pick up the sport in 2007 after seeing his father’s vintage collection of motorcycles, Amit was fascinated with drag racing since childhood.
“Drag racing is a very expensive and a relatively less-known sport in India. Also, when I picked up the sport, many of my friends even warned me against it, but my family supported me,” reveals Amit. Some of the challenges the racers faced included the lack of appropriate racing tracks, which compelled them to practice in other cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune.
Sonu and Amit, who thanked Rongom Tagore Mukerji (of Elite Octane) for his support, have known each other since 2007 and shared a common interest in drag racing. Their easy camaraderie is apparent to us. But clearly that doesn’t come in the way of their racing.
“We are always there for each other, like brothers. And although we practice together, we share a healthy competition when it comes to racing. And we’ve been to several championships; I win some and he wins some. But it’s our togetherness that keeps us going,” the duo tells us.
Tuning in for life
We can’t help but wonder about racing being an injury-prone sport. And as if reading our minds, the duo tells us that neither of them has, luckily, been injured in the process.
“There have been a few freak incidents, but no major accidents or injuries,” admits Amit, adding, “But we take all necessary precautions before setting ourselves up.”
Despite the possible dangers in the sport, both of them seem to find life lessons through it. “Racing requires immense concentration levels, and staying fit all the time. These two aspects have changed my life and made me more disciplined. In fact, I could even say that drag racing has completely transformed my personality,” explains Sonu, who’s a businessman born and raised in Hyderabad. Amit describes the sport as something that needs strong reflexes. “Racing helped me become more flexible and adapt quickly to any challenging environment,” he adds, signing off....