It was a somewhat cloudy afternoon. It had rained a bit before 19-year-old Jamie Shaw was able to get into a go-kart for one of his practice sessions at Mumbai’s Ajmera IndiKarting race track.
Shaw seemed to have misunderstood just how wet the track might have become due to light rain. Shaw, who aspires to become a GT endurance racer, hits the kart against the wall on just his first lap. Fortunately, there was no damage and Shaw and the kart got another chance at some point. When Shaw gets out of the kart after a while, he doesn’t seem the least bit flustered. He walks confidently towards me and seems even enthusiastic and excited to explain the reason for the accident.
Why would these minor accidents bother a racer, whose hero is legendary racing driver Niki Lauda?
After getting into the physics of the sport, Shaw is eager to put in a few more laps. The teenager’s knowledge of the sport and curiosity about it is evident when he speaks.
Shaw entered his first go-kart recently four years ago, and since then, roughly two years since his first local go-kart race, he has represented India at the 2020 Dubai Kart Drome Endurance Championship. To give context to Shaw’s achievement , was the least experienced pilot in his team of five; in fact, he was the least experienced driver in the entire event. To put things into perspective, Shaw competed for the first time on a track other than Ajmera IndiKarting, also in a race that is widely regarded as one of the most iconic drag kart races in the world, one that allows only tickets. limited worldwide. The go-karts were a bit heavy and the race track a bit faster, but they weren’t a deterrent for this young driver. Shaw’s team, EBC Brakes, finished runners-up, despite their lap times being incredibly close to the champions.
Shaw’s other accomplishments include participating in the 2021 MRF Saloon Series, 2021 Indian Formula 4, 2020 National IndiKarting Pro Senior Series and 2019 2019 Interstate Level Karting.
What makes Shaw’s achievements even more impressive is that he has learned the tricks and trade of motorsports through YouTube. That’s how it is. Shaw is a completely self-taught driver with no coach or mentor in a sport that requires a lot of resources, support staff and capital.
And it is this last component that is Shaw’s biggest obstacle.
Despite the encouraging results, Shaw finds it difficult to convince his family to join him on his journey to become a world-class driver. Shaw feels that his family wants what is best for him, but they believe that motorsports is not a sustainable career. There are financial restrictions.
Shaw doesn’t have his own go-kart. For his practice sessions, he uses one of his friend’s go-karts. To own one of those karts, one has to part with several lakh rupees, and that doesn’t even include the cost of the tyres. Shaw explains that to enter the cheapest championships in India you have to spend around 3.5 lakh rupees. For that amount, an aspiring driver only gets one practice session, one qualifying round, and the race. A driver has to give a sum as a “deposit” against possible damages. In addition to all this, there are expenses during the practice sessions.
“Only the rich can practice. People who have moderate means may not be able to practice and register directly, and people who have a budget close to mine can’t even register. So if we can’t sign up, we can’t show our talent and skills.” Shaw says.
But Shaw’s desire to succeed has enabled him to jump the financial hurdle. Shaw runs his own online motorsports course, in which he teaches the theory of the art of racing, motorsports rules and terminology, and the perception of a racer, and ends up making some money. The money that comes in, Shaw uses to fuel his dreams.
Sometimes he takes jobs as a freelance videographer to keep the money coming in. Shaw says that he will do everything in his power to keep racing. This year, he plans to participate in the Indian Volkswagen National Championship. For that, he is running an online fundraiser on Milaap. The competition requires a hefty entry fee of Rs 17 lakh, and he has so far managed to raise only a few thousand rupees.
Shaw is driven to grow as a person and as a rider. Along the way, he has chosen multiple abilities, which could eventually start to reap benefits. Shaw is good with social media. His Instagram account has more than 7,000 followers. He has his own YouTube channel. For a year Shaw managed the events and sponsorship deals for the Ajmera IndiKarting race track. He does all of this while enrolled at a university: Shaw is currently in the third year of his B Com degree.
Let’s not forget that he is not yet 20!
Shaw shows promise, but it hasn’t been an easy road for him.
“I was in very poor health and out of shape just before I joined motorsports. He was incredibly spoiled as a child. He was used to the easy things in life. He used to get bad grades in school… He used to be a terrible person in general”, a good-natured Shaw recalls his childhood.
Shaw was borderline obese and couldn’t even fit properly in a go-kart the first time he tried to sit in one. At one point, Shaw also wanted to be a singer, but his parents wouldn’t let him because he was all over the place. Shaw had to work hard at studying him. From flunking out of sixth grade to first when he dropped out of school, Shaw came a long way in his studies. Only positive academic results could convince Shaw’s parents to greenlight his dream of pursuing a career in motorsports.
Given all this, Shaw’s maturity, especially at his age, is impressive. He has learned to be grateful in life. He has learned to differentiate between happiness and satisfaction. He has no complaints if a fellow competitor has more funds and practices more. Shaw just tries to be happy always.
Shaw is at that stage in his career, where it’s do or die. He has to continue to consistently produce results or simply leave the sport, as several talented runners in India have already done.
If you’re wondering what keeps young drivers like Shaw pushing the limits, in his own words, “To keep wanting to keep going, you have to be a little crazy to join motorsports.”