He is special but his cars are not
Double amputee Ghetan Korada, the world's only differently-abled race driver to have won races and a series, refuses to drive specially adapted cars
Chetan Korada was amputated below the knees shortly after birth owing to a bone defect
| Anjana.Vaswani (a)timesgroup.com
He must have been about a year and a half, Chetan Korada estimates, when he was fitted for his first pair of prosthetics, and though he can't recall what the Jaipur Foot felt like, he does remember that the aluminium prosthetics he was fitted with at around age 10 were excruciating. "I used to be fitted withnewprosthetics every year or two and my legs would bleed until they adjusted to the new devices," the 31-year-old told Mirror yesterday.
Korada, who was amputated below the knees shortly after birth, owing toabonedefect,was in Mumbai for a two-day visit, a brief holiday from the relentless trainingthathas turned him into a leading race car driver over the last decade. Last week, Koradare-turned from Malaysia after testing the Formula Masters track, where he completed 120 laps, in preparation for two forthcoming, international races - the MRF Challenge which will take him to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain in November 2018, and a yet-to-be-confirmed Southeast Asia Pacific series, which will kickoffinjuly.
"If the Asia series does not
work out, the MRF Challenge will be my first international race," says Korada, who lives in Chennai's Kilpauk area. Despite his disability, Korada has been making it to the podium (the top three ranks) in national races and series since 2009, when he was the second runner-up in the JK Tyre Junior National Championship in Chennai - most recently, he was second runner-up in the Federation of Motor Sports Clubsof India's (FMSCI) National Rally Championship.
Korada isn't the world's first differently-abled driver to participate in the high-risk sport - Britain's Nicolas "Nic" Hamilton, for instance, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has participated in
I had taken up painting atone stage; I have worked as a DJ foreightyears, and even gave hairstylingagofor atime, but cars have always been a passion
championships, as has 19-year-old double amputee Billy Monger. But Korada is the only one to have made it to the podium in rallies, and the only one, worldwide, who does not drive specially adapted vehicles (those fitted with hand-operated controls for the brake and the clutch).
"I want to experience exactly what any other race driver goes through, down to the same G-force (the powerful gravitational force that race drivers experience as the cars accelerate in relation to freefall). For the same reason, I don't wear prosthetics with spring mechanisms. I want to feel the push-back of the pedals like other race drivers," said Korada, whose legs are fitted with lightweight, carbon-fibre prosthetics of a European make that he said, "together, cost as much asasuperbike."
He credited his mother Pad-ma, 55, with encouraging him to press forward 'whatever my dreams were'.
"I had taken up painting at one stage, I have worked as a DJ for eight years, and even gave hairstyling a go for a time, but cars have always been a passion. If anyone ever told me I could not do something, my mother would say, 'Ignore him. Do it and we'll face the consequences, whatever they may be'."
ed to play football, for instance, and someone saidlcouldbreaka leg, she said, 'Worst case scenario: you'll break the prosthetics. We'll get new ones."
Korada said he did play football for a time, and was even the basketball captain at The School KFI, where he completed his schooling.
QNet, the multinational marketing company that his mother works for, started sponsoring Korada since 2011, when he started 12th (among 23 drivers) in the Formula LGB1300 rally, and finished first. The same year he was runner up in the Kart-lseriesandin2012, hewent on to win the Mini Enduro and Sprint race.
While his mother has been a constant source of encouragement, Korada told Mumbai Mirror his skill has been honed by Chennai's Quantum Leap Performance. "For the last two years, I have been training for two hours every day, engaging in custom-made hybrid exercise plans, and following diet programmes that the company has devised. I also use their racing simulators to practice, in addition to spending two hours a day on my own simulators to explore new cars and circuits," said Korada, who is confident that he's on the right track to win the international titles.