Motorsport Writing


While nearly all my stories for OVERDRIVE can be read here , I have also compiled a few stories that I enjoyed writing immensely below:



Over the course of my time covering motorsport, I've had many interesting conversations with racing legends, and I've accrued many life lessons along the way. Some have stuck more than others. So it seemed fitting to compile some of this wisdom for my very last column for OVERDRIVE. You can read it here. 


Over the years I've had the opportunity to ask several racers, across disciplines, what the considered the race of their lives. For this story in the July 2020 issue of OVERDRIVE, we picked five responses: Michael Schumacher, Derek Bell, Ari Vatanen, John McGuinness and Emanuele Pirro. Click here to read the full story. 



Between 2013 and 2020 I got to work alongside, and learn from, the legendary WRC copilot and journalist Martin Holmes. Unfortunately, soon after his 80th birthday, Holmes lost his battle with cancer. This is my tribute to possibly the greatest rally journalist of all time, and a fine gentleman, who we were lucky to work with at OVERDRIVE. Click here to read the full story that appeared in the July 2020 issue of the magazine. 



The first half of 2020 saw most motorsport events cancelled because of the pandemic. Missing motorsport made me think about why I loved it to begin with. The answer came to me while I was staring at a photo of a rally truck that I once got to drive under supervision. Here then, is a tale of driving, motorsport, people, and more. Click here to read the piece for OVERDRIVE. 


On the 12th of April 2020, the motorsport world lost Sir Stirling Moss, the greatest driver never to win a Formula 1 world championship title. I wrote a tribute piece on Mr. Motor Racing himself for The Ratchet Vol.3, which you can download here. And another, longer piece, on Moss for OVERDRIVE's May 2020 issue. Click here to read it. 


It's a sign of the times, when after shaking hands with a legendary rally driver, one reaches at once for the hand sanitiser. That's exactly what happened to me right after I shook hands with Stig Blomqvist, when I ran into him at a hotel room in Arvidsjaur in March this year. Click here to read the piece in the April 2020 issue of OVERDRIVE. 


Meet Sherco TVS Racing's Harith Noah, who delivered the most impressive performance of an Indian rider at the Dakar thus far. 2020 might not have been ideal, a crash on Stage 1 and a technical issue on Stage 3 meant Harith could only compete in the Dakar Experience category. But that only tells half the story. This, right here, is the rest of it. 


Ashish Raorane is the latest Indian privateer hoping to take the start at the Dakar in 2021. In order to prep for it, he competed in the 2020 edition of the Africa Eco Race, where he had quite an adventure, complete with a night stranded in the desert all by himself. This is the column his story inspired, and here's the link to the full story of that adventure.


The Dakar 2020 was marred by tragedy - Hero MotoSports Team Rally's Paulo Goncalves died in a tragic accident at the event. Here we recount Paulo's gritty and tenacious performance at the event right up to the moment of his crash. Click here to read the full story from the Feb '20 issue of OVERDRIVE.



Every now and again I get the urge to write out a full motorsport story in verse form, and so it was at the end of January 2020, when I found myself writing out the Dakar 2020 report all in rhyme. Will it teach you anything new? Probably not. But I certainly had fun writing it out. Click here to read the story from the Feb '20 issue of OVERDRIVE.  


Can anyone think of Pikes Peak without thinking of Ari Vatanen and that most beautiful of all motorsport videos - Climb Dance? I certainly can't. Here I speak to Vatanen about his WRC title, his four Dakar wins, and everything that his time in motorsport has taught him. Click here to read the story from OVERDRIVE's Sept '19 issue.


August 2019 witnessed one of the darkest days in Indian motorsport, with an unfortunate accident taking place when a motorcycle forcibly entered a live rally stage. In the aftermath of the incident, Gaurav Gill, three-time APRC champion, was left largely to fend for himself. I wrote about why we need to stand with Gill now more than ever for the September 2019 issue of OVERDRIVE.



S. Karivardhan is considered the godfather of modern Indian motorsport. His skill behind the wheel, engineering genius, and generosity are spoken of in reverential terms. On the occasion of his 65th birth anniversary, I took a trip down memory lane to see what made him so special. Click to read the piece from the June '19 issue of OVERDRIVE. 



Niki Lauda transcends words like icon and hero. He is, instead, a colossus. His loss will be felt acutely and deeply by members of the sport of F1, and fans around the world. I tried to say goodbye to him in the only way I thought appropriate - this letter - which appeared in the July 2019 issue of OVERDRIVE. Click here to read it. 



Twenty-five years after F1's black weekend at Imola, we remembered the sport's greatest fallen hero, Ayrton Senna, through the eyes of Senna fans from around the world. Senna was immensely talented, fast, and intense. He brought a certain kind of light to the sport, that he became the undisputed champion of a generation of fans. Click here to read my feature from the May 2019 issue of OVERDRIVE.



It took KP Aravind three attempts to get to the finish line at the Dakar. It took courage, resilience and discipline. After becoming only the second ever Indian to complete the extremely punishing event, he spoke to me about his journey. Click to read the feature from OVERDRIVE's March '19 issue. 



Harper Lee, Toby Price, and Niki Lauda. They might seem like an unusual trio to band together in a piece of writing. Until you think of the word "courage", which is when it all makes sense. Lee's definition of courage and Price and Lauda's displays of just that. Click here to read the column I wrote for OVERDRIVE's February 2019 issue. 



When it was time for me to turn in my column for the January 2019 issue of OVERDRIVE, I found myself thinking back to a very memorable, and entirely unplanned, trip to the Nürburgring. It put the passage of time, and the coming of the new year into perspective. Click here to read!



Sophia Floersch's crash at the 2018 Macau GP brought to mind the very many racers who soldier on, despite the many setbacks that come their way. Racers like Robert Wickens, Robert Kubica and the incredible Billy Monger. Wrote a column about celebrating the brave for OVERDRIVE's December 2018 issue. Read it here. 



Lewis Hamilton won his fifth title at the 2018 Mexican GP. Since his F1 debut in 2007, Hamilton has slowly but surely established himself as one of Formula 1's most talented and most consistent drivers. Teamed with the Mercedes juggernaut, he seems unstoppable. Wrote a feature about it for OVERDRIVE's December 2018 issue. Read it here.



In October 2018, Ana Carrasco made history by winning the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship title. Given the conversations that had started in India at that point, it was hard not to think of women in the country, and at Indian racetracks. I wrote a column about it for the November 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE. Read it here. 



Carlos Sainz, who had been declared well past his prime by some, went on to win a second Dakar Rally in 2018. Being in the service park at the WRC Turkey, made me think of Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya, and how age really is just a number. I wrote a column about it for the October 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE magazine. You can read it online here.



Every F1 fan dreams of the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car. But you don't dare believe it might actually happen. I still feel like the events on July 23rd 2018 were a dream, but there are pictures that apparently prove otherwise. Click here to read my story on driving the Lotus Renault E20 at Paul Ricard, published in OVERDRIVE's Sept '18 issue. 



Speaking to five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell about his life and times in motor racing was eye-opening. He spoke of everything from driving for Enzo Ferrari, to unfinished business in F1, to what made him so good in sportscars. The story went into the  September '18 issue of OVERDRIVE. Read it here. 



A visit to the Monaco GP Historique was motorsport time travel unlike I've ever experienced before. I had trouble picking my jaw back up off the ground, and pushing my eyeballs back into their sockets. When I recovered, I wrote about it for the September '18 issue of OVERDRIVE - click here to read. 



When I was growing up, reading the motorsport section of OVERDRIVE, and the special edition Grand Prix, was memorable to say the least. An internship with OD, and two magazine jobs later, I found myself back there. So being part of the OVERDRIVE's 20th anniversary issue was very special to me. I wrote about it for the September 2018 issue. 



In June 2018, two motorsport records came tumbling down. Timo Bernhard in the Porsche 919 Evo broke the lap record at the Nurburgring. And Romain Dumas drove the VW I.D R to a lap record shattering time at Pikes Peak. It inspired some verse for OVERDRIVE's August 2018 issue. Read here.



At the 2018 Berlin ePrix, Formula E announced its decision to go to Saudi Arabia. Some sections of the media seemed to think that this was progressive, and indicated that the country was moving towards a more liberal space. This column, written for the July 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE, is a reaction to that opinion. 



Having heroes you admire from afar is all very well. But it's the real life heroes, the ones who are part of our lives, the ones we meet often, that we must celebrate as often as we can while we get the chance. Meet my childhood hero, who set the bar very, very high. Read my column for OVERDRIVE's June '18 issue here.



Henry Hope Frost's passing was, and is, a tragedy in the truest sense. I never met him, but most days I woke up to a lovely drawing of a race machine he made for his 'little friend' and it was proof that that "fever" of his could travel far and wide. I wrote a tribute to HHF for the April 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE. Read it here. 



"People look at me and they say, 'Look at this guy, he never gives up.' But I gave up at the Dakar three times. I'm not exactly what people think I am. It's complex, like the Dakar," CS Santosh said after the 2018 Dakar Rally. His fourth attempt at the most grueling off-road rally raid in the world made him look at himself differently. It was an interesting, if somewhat intriguing conversation, for the April 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE. Read the story here. 



For those of you, who like me, fear that you make very little use of your mental capacities, a visit to the Dakar Rally is a must. It will help you discover, as I did when I followed the brave men and women who competed in the 2018 edition of the event, that your fears are entirely accurate. Which is what my column for the February 2018 issue of OVERDRIVE was about. Read it here.



Getting the opportunity to follow the fortunes of the riders of Hero MotoSports Team Rally as they tackled the 2018 Dakar Rally was a tremendous experience. Watching them push themselves to the edge of human endurance, watching the highs, the lows, and the heartbreak of the Dakar Rally, was eye-opening. I kept something of a diary of the event for OVERDRIVE's February 2018 issue. Read the story here. 



"I believe in fate," Schumacher had said. "Sometimes fate can be positive, or negative." Four years after his terrible accident, I find myself replaying that interview in my head. Especially in December. While taking stock of the year gone by, and the passage of time. My thoughts made it into the December 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE. Read the column here. 



"You go as close as you can to fear," Sir Stirling Moss said to me of his approach to life and motor racing. And given that it was Mr. Motor Racing himself speaking I listened intently. His words came back to me when it was time to write my column for the September 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE. If you'd like to read the column click here.



Robert Kubica demonstrates resilience and courage in the face of adversity. This feeling welled up inside me at Rally Poland in 2014, when I took this photograph of Kubica airborne, just a couple of years after his near career-ending accident. I wrote a column about it when he was about to make his WEC debut, which didn't happen. Now that he's testing an F1 car in the hopes of making a comeback, here's another piece for OVERDRIVE's August 2017 issue



It's been an uphill battle for Mahindra Racing in the Formula E championship. The team's had to learn a lot, adapt from season to season, and really fight it out to get to where they wanted to be within the sport. Perhaps it was the Berlin ePrix that highlighted the highs and lows of motorsport in equal measure. Not only did the team score their first ever win in the series, they faced tough times and had to overcome it with their chins firmly up, led ably by Dilbagh Gill. This is the story of just how they managed to do just that, written for OVERDRIVE's July 2017 issue.  



Life isn't easy. No one said it was going to be. Standing by the side of a hill in Merzouga, Morocco, watching riders bravely pin the throttle and manage to make their way up that rocky incline was a metaphor for life itself. A metaphor that reinforced that we all choose different methods to tackle the same obstacle, and that we all, sooner or later come upon obstacles that we simply must tackle. My column from OVERDRIVE's June 2017 issue



Getting to talk to Sebastien Loeb at the 2017 Hockenheim RX was interesting and surprising all at once. Loeb wasn't really the poker-faced stoic person that I thought he'd be. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was engaging, sharp, keeping in mind questions, and coming back to them later, if he felt he needed to clarify something. He spoke of talent, hardwork, laziness and what the most important things in life are. It was an interview that I enjoyed rather a lot, written for the June 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE. Also found online here. 



Good things come to those who wait. But also to those who work very, very hard. Which is exactly what CS Santosh did on his way to becoming the country's most prominent rally-raid rider. We watched Santosh, who now rides for the Hero MotoSports Team Rally outfit, as he progressed through the 2017 Merzouga Rally, and tried to trace his evolution as an athlete over the years. Written for OVERDRIVE magazine's June 2017 issue. 



How many times does a body get offered the opportunity to drive a proper rally car? Well, in my case that happened just once. And so, with great trepidation, I accepted. I spent rather a lot of time stalling the Skoda Fabia R5 that seven-time German National Rally Champion, Matthias Kahle, allowed me to get behind the wheel of. But I did drive it a little, emphasis on the little, and manage to learn a thing or too. No, this isn't a road test, but it's an honest account of a frightened motorsport scribe being put on the spot, that appeared in the February 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE



Now that we've leapt right into 2017 (although I've used a photo of Ogier I shot back in 2014), there are a few things that I'd like to wish every single one of you. After all, this is the time for do-overs. It's a brand new year! So for 2017 I wish you the strength to learn, the courage to decide decide, the determination to grow, and.... Read my column from the January 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE right here.


Gaurav Gill is India's big rally hope. He's the one man we all hope will actually make it to the World Rally Championship. Because, with two APRC titles under his belt, and a constant desire to improve himself, Gill's made some big strides. Here's his take on how he survives in the competive world of rallying, and his never-ending pursuit for perfection in a rally car. Read it in the January 2017 issue of OVERDRIVE, or click right here!


Every now and again, I am guilty of feeling jaded. And every single time that happens, I look back to a cold, dark night at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 2012, when a fellow motorsport scribe said something very wise to me that has since stuck. I learned similar lessons while speaking with Mattias Ekström and Walter Röhrl. So, here it is. On the art of finding happiness and never letting it go. From the December 2016 issue of OVERDRIVE. Of simply click here to read it online!



Meet the 2016 World Rallycross Champion. Mattias Ekström is a philosophical racer, if there  ever was one. He sat down and spoke to us about how honesty and self-reflection have taken him far in his career, telling us he doesn't believe he is naturally talented, but instead he chooses to work hard to beat people who are. All that and many more candid observations from him can be read in the December 2016 issue of OVERDRIVE, or click right here.


So you like racing? It's a question that I'm often asked. And sometimes I find that words fail me. How do I explain to people that like doesn't even begin to describe it?! There's more to it than like! Which is why I decided to sit and express as best as I can, what it is about motorsport that interests me, inspires me, drives me and fulfils me. And the ripple effect that it has on various aspects of my life. The column is available in the November 2016 issue of OVERDRIVE, or you could click here to read it.


Another story of people who refuse to give up, because they promised each other that they wouldn't. It's this promise that drives Sarath Kumar and his mentor Ramji Govindrajan, and that's why, broken bones, failed contracts, absconding sponsors, haven't daunted them. They just soldier right on. It takes a lot of courage, but these two have courage in good measure. Here's their story on the OVERDRIVE website. 



Motorsport is full of tales of perseverance, courage and hardwork. For me, if there's one tale that really stands out, it's that of Rayomand Banajee. Rayo, as he's popularly called in the Indian motorsport fraternity is one of those rare individuals who got to where he is today, racking up national titles along the way, on his own steam. He's played smart with the cards he was dealt. And he doesn't believe in excuses. Here's his story on  OVERDRIVE 



When I went to the Berlin Round of the Formula E Championship, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Then, an interview with Nick Heidfeld cropped up, which turned out to be far more interesting than I could have imagined. Heidfeld's years of experience in motorsport, especially Formula 1, have made him something of an Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the interview was full of little pearls of wisdom. You can read it on the OVERDRIVE website by following this link right here. 



To say that Petter Solberg is one quick driver, is to state the obvious. There's so much more to the 2003 World Rally Champion. One of which is an incredible resilience of spirit that ensures he simply doesn't give up, no matter what the circumstances. The other is that he's an incredibly straight forward person to speak with. You can read his very candid interview in OVERDRIVE's June 2016 issue or click here!




Stefan Bellof. It was hard not to be impressed by him and his rapid progress in the world of motorsport. It was as hard to accept his death at Spa during a World Endurance Championship race in 1984. I'd always wanted to make a pilgrimage to Giessen and talk to someone who'd known him. Fortunately for me his very wise brother Georg agreed to just that. Our conversation inspired this letter to Stefan.


Managed to get my hands on the keys to this sharp-looking machine some time in October 2015. Had a field day piloting it around the Lausitzring. I'd like to say that I tamed the beast, but grandiose claims of such a nature would be entirely untrue. What happened was that the KTM X-Bow taught me a thing or two about driving at a racetrack. You can read all about it in the December issue of OVERDRIVE. Or right here. 


I'd never have believed that it was possible to phone Walter Röhrl, tell him that I wanted to meet him for an interview in his house, and have him agree to it so readily. But that's really what happened in March 2015. So we drove up to the house of the greatest rally driver in the world, and sat down and had a good old chat. You can read it here. And here is the story behind the story.


Back in 2012, I caught sight of Niki Lauda bobbing along through the F1 paddock at the Buddh International Circuit and cornered him into an interview. The story, peppered with many an anecdote from the Seventies, was published in Business Standard Motoring and can be read here. A year later Niki was refusing interviews at the BIC having been badgered incessantly. But when I walked up to him to say hello, he remembered me and said "Come, let's walk and talk." So we did. It was a short, but satisfying conversation.


At the 2013 Macau GP I met John McGuinness and asked him all about the Isle of Man TT and what it felt like to be fast approaching Joey Dunlop's record. But the most significant part of our interview was when he answered my questions about fear. It made me go and jump off the Macau Tower. And later spawned two other stories about fear and the motorcycle racer and fear and the racecar driver


Growing up, Michael Schumacher was my hero. And managing to persuade Sabine Kehm into allowing me a one-on-one interview with him at the 2011 Indian GP is what I count as one of the most significant achievements of my career. But in that interview for Business Standard Motoring there was only a part of the story. A few years later when Schumi had that dreadful accident, there was more writing that poured forth, which can be read here.


I first read about the Qmarri in 2008. It was the stuff that every good motorsport story is made of. A car arrives at the home of a family in Calcutta. The children are fascinated and they grow up to race that very car, taking it to Sholavaram and ensuring it makes it to the podium. Tracking it down and convincing Ravi Kumar to let me feature it became an obsession. Finally, in 2014, my quest was successful



Seven-time German Rally Champion Matthias Kahle decided he had best teach me a think or two about how to drive a clean and fast lap. And so on a frozen lake in Arvidsjaur, behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf R, on a 7km long ice track I was put through my paces. I drove, I failed, I learned, I wrote






Not really a piece of motorsport writing, but the Classic Remise in Berlin was a place steeped in automotive history. It gave me goosebumps to see so many machines in mint condition, and warmed the cockles to find people tinkering away on the machines to make sure they were as perfect as they were the day the rolled out of the factory gates. It also took me on a flight of fancy, allowing me to meet Herr Schmidt.


Now to the life lessons that motorsport has taught me. The indomitable Max and Hanspeter who I met in Sweden, racing about the track, taught me that it all lies in the mind. Somender Singh who tinkers away on motorcycles and cars in Mysore taught me that we have no excuses and there's no time like now. And watching CS Santosh finish the Dakar Rally in 2015 was a demonstration of the triumph of the human spirit. There's more opinion pieces and columns from the good folk at OVERDRIVE right here


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© Vaishali Dinakaran - Writer & Journalist