Ahead of the first round of his first full-time campaign in Indy NXT at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Asian Motorsport spoke to Abel Motorsports driver Yuven Sundaramoorthy about his journey from karting into cars and the Road to Indy, his aspirations for the future and his experience as an Indian-American in motorsport.

By Seb Tirado

Sundaramoorthy’s first foray into motorsports came when he lived in Shanghai, China. “The Formula 1 track was about 30min from my house so one day my dad said, ‘we should go to the track, pick a sport you want to do: either Rally, MotoGP or F1.’ I said ‘F1 sounds pretty cool.’

“None of us knew anything at the time what Formula 1 is or what racing was. So, I went to the race and immediately was hooked, it was just a crazy experience. It was 2011, the GP there. It was a really close race between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

“I started asking my dad what we could do and in 2013, I started go-karting at the track there. All of my lessons were completely in Mandarin, so it was an interesting experience, but I just loved it. We moved back to the US, andstarted racing here.”

Sundaramoorthy’s single-seater journey

On being asked about his most memorable moment, Sundaramoorthy highlighted his first win in the F1600 Championship Series at Indianapolis.

“That was definitely a really, really cool experience. My whole family was there, being able to see me get that win,” he continued.

“Doing it at that track of all tracks, one of the most prestigious tracks in the world, was a really cool thing and standing on that podium was kinda the moment where I was like I can do this, I can make it pro.”

Indeed, Sundaramoorthy then began his journey up the ranks. One such stop on his journey was in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 in 2019-20.

“That was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had,” he said. “Just in the sense of that was the first [series] I’d done outside of the US or Canada. The series had a lot of European drivers, like David Schumacher, Bent Viscaal, all these guys who were in F3, F2 or doing some Le Mans stuff.

“And doing it in crazy tracks like Dubai, Bahrain and then being able to do it in my family’s hometown and home state of Tamil Nadu and Chennai was such a cool experience. It’s one of the biggest series that races at that track so seeing the crowd come out is crazy.

“Standing on that podium with all those fans there, all the Indian fans was so cool. And being able to talk to the different people and relate to those people was so cool.”

Following the Road to Indy

When asked about why he followed the Road to Indy instead of the European pathway, Sundaramoorthy said, “There’s a number of factors to that. The first thing was we lived in America, makes it much easier to do stuff here.

“But also, unfortunately with the way motorsport works, the money is a huge factor and it’s significantly cheaper to race here in the US so that was a huge cause of it.”

However, the reasons why he went up the Road to Indy are not all doom and gloom.

“I just really love the goals and the way that the motorsports curriculum works here. I think IndyCar is an incredible series for racers. It’s more spec than F1 and the racing I think is significantly closer.

“On the engineering side, Formula 1 is much cooler in the sense that there’s a lot more sides to the engineering. But, as a racer, I really enjoy the side we have here in the US of making it fun to race and fun to compete.”

Aspiring to ‘be the first Indian-American to race in IndyCar’

Sundaramoorthy’s aspirations for the future are very clear: “The goal is definitely the NTT IndyCar Series. Ideally, in a year or two, get some good results this year and hopefully impress some people.

“It comes down to a lot of things obviously, it’s not very straightforward, but I think I have the ability and I think that the team has a great car that they’ve put together.

“Obviously, if any opportunities come up, I’m not gonna say no, but IndyCar is definitely the goal. And hopefully in a couple years I can be the first Indian-American to race in IndyCar and the Indy 500 and hopefully do well there.”

Expanding on that, Sundaramoorthy talked about his experiences of being an Indian-American going through the Road to Indy.

“It wasn’t really something I realised until a lot later in my career. Being able to receive messages that I’ve gotten from other Indians or other Indian-Americans saying, ‘Oh wow, you’ve inspired me to do this,’ is a really cool thing,” he continued.

“It’s great to show that we can do it too, instead of the common stereotype that Asians or Indians or get of not wanting to be super aggressive or anything like that with their career choices.

“It shows that we all have the ability to and I’m hoping to inspire more people to kind of branch out and do the same thing.”

Header photo credit: Indy NXT

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