Washington, DC – Atharva Desai developed an interest in racing when he was eight years old. “I fell in love with racing by watching Formula 1 races on TV with my family,” he says, and since then, he has ardently pursued his passion.
At the age of 10, he started racing at an indoor go-karting track called Allsports Grand Prix in Northern Virginia. “Francois, the track owner, taught me the racing fundamentals. After I learned the basics of racing, I registered for the local karting league,” says Atharva. He won the junior karting championship as a rookie and then graduated and won the senior karting championship the following season. Recognizing his fantastic talent and potential, his family took him to multiple karting events, and he constantly won endurance and heat races. Atharva went to his first ROTAX nationals’ race, where he came second. “I then was invited to test Formula cars, and I impressed people on my first tests,” recounts Atharva. After getting a few years of experience in Formula 4 cars, he moved to Oxford for college and joined the Young Racing Driver Academy (YRDA) under the Arden Motorsports Team and is now aiming to drive in the upcoming Formula 3 championship.
Atharva has raced in many go-karting tracks along the east coast. “I have gone karting from Pittsburgh down to Florida,” says Atharva, “After I graduated into Formula cars, I drove on courses across the country. I drove Formula 3 cars on Sonoma Raceway in California; Formula 4 testing on Radford racetrack in Phoenix; Autobahn Country club in Chicago, Virginia International Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Sebring in Florida.” He drives many international tracks on his racing simulator, most of which are on the Formula 1 calendar.
One of Atharva’s most memorable races was a three-hour iron man endurance race where he raced by himself for 3 hours. Starting in third place, he quickly came into first place and held it. There was a 15-minute break at the halfway mark for refueling the cars. “After the halfway grid start, it started raining, and I got hit in the back by another kart and spun all the way to last place,” remembers Atharva. “I kept my head down and told myself, “I have 1.5 hours to get back to 1st place.” In that time, he raced his hardest to achieve first place and went on to lap third place. “It was one of my proudest drives as it was dark and raining, and I was still able to achieve 1st place skillfully.”
Another memorable race was a Formula 3 race at Sonoma, where he first learned formula-style stick shift. “This style was hard to get used to at first, but it was getting better and better as I kept driving,” says Atharva, “This experience was like being thrown in the deep end, but it was beneficial because it made driving a Formula 4 car a ton easier.” He ended up getting personal bests lap after lap and displayed his superhuman racing consistency. “Many people watching realized the additional racing talent I had within to improve race times lap after lap constantly.”
Atharva spends a lot of his time in a realistic racing simulator – cost-effectively perfecting his racing skills. “Such simulators provide an exceptionally realistic racing experience without the cost of car maintenance and track rentals,” he explains, “As a result, I spend at least five race weekends a year practicing on a track.”
Race car drivers require a specialized level of physical strength and mental toughness to maintain their focus and withstand the immense strain of racing. Atharva spends around two hours doing physical exercises and mental endurance training every day. In addition, he keeps himself extremely fit by maintaining a balanced nutritional diet.
His advice to kids interested in racing is to start racing now. “It is never too early to start racing,” he says and stresses that it’s essential to be responsible while racing, as motorsport is still a dangerous sport.
Since his last interview with us three years ago, Atharva has attended many Formula series races and racing schools to improve his skills and joined the Young Racing Drivers Academy under the Arden Motorsports team in Banbury, United Kingdom. As Formula One is more prominent in Europe, he decided to stay in the UK. Currently, Atharva is studying for a Bachelor of Engineering in Motorsports Technology. “It is a major exclusively provided in my university at Oxford, where I learn race car engineering,” says Atharva.
Atharva says his biggest supporters are his family, close relatives, and family friends. “They are incredibly supportive of my career and are determined to see me competing in the highest class of motorsport racing. I couldn’t be more blessed to have the fantastic support of my friends and family as I climb to the top of motorsport racing.
“Formula 1 is my biggest motivator,” adds Atharva, “Ever since I was little, I always wished to be a Formula 1 world champion. This dream is everything I fight for, and I always make sure to put in my 100% effort towards it.”
Since the first time he sat in a go-kart, he has devoted his life to racing. Asked where he sees himself in five years, Atharva replies without hesitation, “Competing in Formula 1.”
You can follow the journey of this talented young race car driver at Atharva4Racing.com.