Bangladesh’s Pioneer In Track Racing

We caught up with Avik Anwar, director of Car House Limited, to know his opinion on automotive racing.A car geek through and through, Anwar shared his opinion regarding how he sees the future of automotive racing in our country.

Firstly, what took you into track racing?

Istarted watching Formula 1 at a very young age and I wanted to be an F1 driver, but the circumstances didn’t allow it then. I went abroad to study and that’s when opportunities opened up for me to explore track racing.

You’ve won the Rallycross event in Dhaka several times. What was that like?

The challenges at the Rallycross did not make me work that hard since I won once with a broken leg and once in an underpowered car, so I would say it was a stepping stone towards something bigger. I think the Ameo Cup might be that.

So then, let’s hear about the Ameo Cup?

For the last nine years of motorsport history in India, Volkswagen Motorsport organises this championship to aspire drivers from around the country and the neighbouring countries. They get trained by their program to go on to race internationally.

Like the Made-in-India Ameo, The Ameo Cup Car has been developed entirely at the Volkswagon Pune plat, a first for a car in the one-make series. It’s powered by a 1.8-litre, turbocharged TSI petrol engine that produces 205hp at 6100rpm and 320Nm between 3200 rpm and 4600 rpm.

The Ameo uses a 6-speed racing sequential gearbox with steering-mounted paddle shifters. The cars run on new 17-inch wheels shod with tyres specifically developed for this car by MRF.

The car is unlike anything Indian motorsport has seen from the Volkswagen’s stable. It has more power and amazing handling, yet it is simple enough for budding racers to learn on.

Is it possible to develop an automotive race in Bangladesh? How might it be developed?

The automotive race is yet to take off in Bangladesh. It will take a long time in Bangladesh, especially in terms of enthusiasts and the variation of cars available in the market for purchase. A lot of improvements are needed in regards to the current automobile scenario. Firstly, we need to have a solid online marketplace for cars which we are lacking. Secondly, we need to educate the masses about the technicalities of racing cars. Lastly, we need to teach every generation at least about safe driving on the roads.

How do you take preparation for racing and how do you approach it?

Racing is such a sport where 100% focus and commitment is required. I train a lot on my racing simulator and work hard at the gym, mostly strength-endurance training and lots of swimming. I also watch a lot of racing series religiously like Formula 1, Formula 2, Blanpain GT and LeMans Series which helps me to learn the sport a lot in general.

Share your experiences of racing?

The feeling of race is something different that I would describe to be out of this world. Once I sit behind the steering wheel of my racing car, I get into a different zone altogether completely detached from all the earthly woes and troubles. It’s just me and my race car. After being crowned as the first Bangladeshi race winner it felt surreal, the amount of praise I received from home and abroad was phenomenal. I will try my best to portray my country with pride, always!

How do you usually prepare before a race?

Fitness is a huge requirement. I have been working hard at the gym and burning at least 2500 calories a day. Sleep and diet are important as well. I watch a lot of track videos and I recently got some open wheel track experience in Canada. I also have a similarly powered car to the Ameo Cup car – a Honda Civic Type R, so I know what to expect. There’s also a lot of simulation driving with Gran Turismo, which always helps.

So how close is simulation racing to actual track racing, since you have experience with both?

The difference is huge. In real life there are so many factors that aren’t simulated – wind, for example. Matching lines is also quite difficult, not to mention the physical strains on your body because of the racing suit, cabin temperatures and so on. It takes a lot of preparation, so it’s not like someone can suddenly decide to be a race car driver – you have to be mentally and financially prepared.

We know you are a successful automobile businessman. How did you come into this business?

My father has been in the car business for 29 years. I grew up with cars and wanted to do well in this business. When I returned from Canada in 2012, I took control of our Gulshan outlet and asked for a business loan to do my transactions separately. Eventually, I repaid the loan and worked hard importing bespoke vehicles. I thought out of the box by doing massive online marketing and door to door sales. Now I have two new outlets at Kamal Ataturk Avenue and Tejgaon Link Road. I think, my hard work and honesty has taken me this far and I would love to stick to it.

Tell us about the TV show I-drive that you host.

The show I-drive is my baby, the whole content of the show was created by me and to this date, we have no script on the show. Everything that we present is done on the spot with proper research and sincerity. Till now it is the only show on cars in Bangladesh. And it is hugely popular. I will try to run this show for a long time.

We would love to get some comments about your passion for cars, your vehicle collection.

I love cars; I cannot live a single moment without them. I love driving them, owning them, collecting them and enhancing their performance through functional modifications. I currently own a 2010 Mitsubishi Evolution X, a 2004 Honda Civic Type R, 2 Nissan Silvia’s (s14 and S15), 1 Honda NSX, 1 Landcruiser, 1 Honda S2000, 1 WRX sTi (the version which Colin Mcrae used to win the WRC) and last but not the least 1 Honda NSX.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to check out motor racing?

I would request the government to build a track for people interested in motorsports because we have a lot of talent in our country. For now, these talented people can go to India and go through tests to get a racing license. They can participate in the national races in India too. It starts from the National B racing license, which I have right now.

Would you share your future plans or tell us about which events you want to participate next?

My future plan would be to open a racing school and a race track in Bangladesh in addition to bringing much more bespoke cars and a brand dealership. I would also like to promote environment-friendly vehicles. In terms of racing, I still have the Indian National Touring Car Championship pending with 6 more races and 2 races in the Formula 1 Track of Malaysia known as Sepang Circuit for the Malaysian Championship Series.