The fearless Formula racer

The fearless Formula racer

by Pakistan News
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August 21, 2022


Have you ever experienced doing something for the first time but feel like you have been doing it for a long time and that it is made for you? And once you start doing it, you get so good at it that in a few years you reach the top position? That is what a Pakistani racer experienced when he won his first go karting race at the age of fourteen and went on to become the number racer in the world, breaking the record of the then top formula racer.

This is the story of the twenty-two-year-old race driver Enaam Ahmed who started go karting at the age of eight and won his first title of world champion at the age of fourteen, breaking the record of Lewis Hamilton, who won his first race when he was fifteen. Ahmed worked hard to become the number racer one in the world and recently won Podium 2, second place, at the Indy Pro 2000 race one in Toronto.

The beginning

Ahmed lives in the UK with his family. He tried many sports, but nothing held his interest before a friend of his father’s took him to a go karting track. “I’ve tried many sports, but the moment I stepped into a go kart, I fell in love with it. When I started driving, I was so good at it naturally I felt as if it was made for me. After that, in everything with four wheels, I felt like I was at home; everything about that was so natural to me,” Ahmed says to The Express Tribune.

Racing is not an easy sport to pursue, as it requires a great of financing, dedication, and willingness to take huge risks. Ahmed was fortunate to have the support of his parents, and that motivated him to not only pursue it but become the best at it. “Two of the biggest things that motivated were to make my parents proud of me. Nothing will give me greater satisfaction in life than to become the best racing driver in the world. The other thing is to make my country proud and prove to the world that any Pakistani, given an opportunity, can become the best in the world at anything they set their mind to,” says Ahmed.

“My family was supportive. They allowed me to race, and I told them when I was eight years old that I wanted to do this. I was blessed to have parents who allowed me to pursue my passion and support me,” he says. Ahmed feels that some Pakistanis have been conditioned to have the colonial mindset of being inferior to people from other countries. When he saw Lewis Hamilton, a Black racer, winning the championship in 2008, it inspired him to believe that he could do it too. “That’s what motivated me in my racing—Hamilton racing at an international level in a country like the US, proving to everyone that anyone could do anything they set their mind to. Talent is not limited to one race or colour.”


The fearless mindset

Going on a racing track on high speed carries a lot of risks, and crashing could cause a severe injury or even death. If you are passionate about your goal, nothing can stop you. Ahmed, who has seen many highs and lows in his career, had financial support from his parents at the beginning of his racing, but as he continued, he had to rely more on sponsors. And to keep those sponsors interested, he had to take risks. “I always had the pressure to win because if I didn’t win, I wouldn’t have any sponsor to continue my racing. So from the age of eight to up until now, I’ve always had the do-or-die mindset, I’ve learned to handle the pressure and use that to make me fight.”

Ahmed believes that Pakistani people are courageous and take up challenges to win. “When preparing for a race, my biggest advantage is that I’m a Pakistani, and we’re courageous people. That gives me an advantage over other drivers; it is a do-or-die situation, and I don’t care what will happen. I’m there to prove that Pakistanis can be the best and world champions. I’m willing to risk my life trying to ensure that in all competitions, our flag is raised on the number one position on the podium.”

The fearless racer Ahmed says that when he goes to race, there is nothing in his mind before the race. He puts his mind in a state of total focus, entirely unchallenged with a feeling of painlessness. It doesn’t matter if he has a broken leg or ribs, and he feels completely calm as his mind goes into preparedness for war. “That is how I can put my mind in a state of high-level focus while many people can’t. I think of it as a fight, I’m in the survival mode as if I’m being chased by a tiger. When in survival mode, you either fight or leave the situation. Putting my mind in that state heightens my senses, and my vision improves. Everything is different as my body feels like it needs to survive.”

Life changing events

Becoming a race driver of any kind means you are prepared for injuries and fractures. No matter how good you get at driving, if the car doesn’t respond even for a millisecond, you may crash somewhere the next moment. Ahmed has faced multiple injuries, including broken ribs. “When I was eleven years old, I crashed a go kart. I still remember waking up screaming, but it’s all part of the game. Human beings are meant to fight for survival, and as a racing driver, that is what you do. We are in a machine that can kill us. But these machines are like chariots of fire, and when we go to war in and with these chariots, we are there to prove who is the best of all. With the Pakistani flag supporting me, I don’t care how many times I get injured; I’ll still push myself to be the best,” says Ahmed.

The most significant event that changed Ahmed’s life was when he was fourteen and was named the world and European go karting champion. Not many people can say that they were world champions at fourteen. Ahmed says, “I’ve defeated the record of Lewis Hamilton, he won at fifteen, and I won at fourteen. That changed my life and career: I proved to the world that I was the best. I won the British number three title in car racing when I was seventeen and got the greatest number of wins in British Formula 3. In this championship’s sixty-seventy-year history, no one has won more races than I have. These were the achievements that changed my career.”

Ahmed adds that he didn’t get instant success; he had to wait for six years. “I started when I was eight, and my father was always there with me, whether it was raining or snowing. He always took time off his work and pushed me to follow my dream. That is how I got my first title at the age of fourteen. Go karting championship is a massive deal; most of the top racing drivers come from go karting backgrounds, which I didn’t have. If you’re a champion, you’re considered the best racer in the world.”

Ahmed rides in a car painted with the colours, green and white, of Pakistan. It was an interesting coincidence that the team he represented had the same colours, and when he talked to them, they allowed him to wear green and white in all his races. “The colours were a coincidence, but I chose my number forty-seven as Pakistan was created in 1947,” he says.

Recalling the winning moment at the Indy 2000, Ahmed says, “Getting in second place was good but I wanted to win the first position. I made a small mistake but being the only person with those colours was a very proud moment. Also, I was surprised to see the number of Pakistani supporters in the stadium; many people were cheering for me.”


Motorsports in Pakistan

Ahmed believes that motorsports are not popular in Pakistan because of the unavailability of many options. But he says that Pakistanis have the talent to handle any machine, not just motors, and Pakistan Air Force is a prime example, as being one of the best forces in the world. “In racing, I’m the only Pakistani who has won so many titles worldwide. I wanted to be the first, but I want to show the world that Pakistanis can do anything they set their minds to. In future, we can be the best.”


Ahmed adds that although there is a lot of talent in motorsport in Pakistan, there are no facilities in the country to even get people started. “That is not the only reason; the sport that people can play anywhere is cricket, and that is because it is popular. For motorsport, you need a go kart, a racing track, and in our country, there are bigger problems to solve than building a motorsport facility at the moment. But I think it will get popular when the achievements of sportsmen like me and others are shown on TV, winning in front of everyone. Watching us win will make more people interested in this sport.”

The other important aspect is that Ahmed was fortunate to train at the place where top racers had their training. “I started my racing career in the UK. Most of the best drivers in the world have their training in the UK, and if you want to be the best, this is where you need to start. Most of my life, I’ve raced there,” he explains.

Talking about the initial things one needs to start motorsports, Ahmed says that any motorsport requires money. “I was lucky that my parents financed me in the beginning. Getting me to persevere in go karting takes a lot of determination, willpower, and bravery because only money won’t get you far. The rest is your talent and grit. If I didn’t win and consistently perform well, I wouldn’t have been racing as I need sponsors to finance my racing.”


What lies ahead

Ahmed, who is passionate about making Pakistan proud globally, says that the thing that he would like to see most is have his races broadcast live in Pakistan. According to Ahmed, every country shows interviews and profiles of their racers participating in international tournaments, and he’d like to see Pakistan doing the same thing. “I participate in races in America; in all these races there’re many racers from other countries, and their counties broadcast their racers’ tournaments. Next year, I’d really wish to have one of Pakistan’s big TV channels to buy rights and show races live. I think watching my race live and seeing me win under the Pakistan flag will make this sport popular. It is about the time that Pakistan broadened its approach to sports; we need to focus on sports other than cricket and make motorsports, among other games, popular. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it is about time that it became popular in Pakistan too.”

The Pakistani formula racer says he needs to focus on his career, and his next goal is to get Pakistanis into this sport. “Firstly, to get a car manufactured in Pakistan as there is not one that is a purely made-in-Pakistan car. Secondly, I plan to make a racing team, like Vijay Mallya had the Force India team; mine will be a better one, and I’ll do it in Pakistan with a Pakistani car company. After that, I’ve a plan to make an academy, find the best racers and bring them to Formula 1. I’d set up a racing team in America and Europe to race in Indy Car, and Formula 1, 2, 3. These are my goals for a twenty-year project.”

For now, Enaam Ahmed wants to focus on his career, step up and reach Indy Lights, the US Formula 2, and then enter Indy Car. “That’s the formula race of America and the fastest race in the world. Indianapolis 500 is the biggest sporting event in the world, and I plan to win that. Half a million people are in stadium watching the race live.”

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