Some work hard to become legends and then there are some others who are born to be legends. It seems like the latter is true for Indian motorsport hero, Sundaram Karivardhan Naidu. More commonly and affectionately known just as Kari. Sounds familiar? Well, have you ever wondered where the name for the motor racing track in Coimbatore came from?
Karivardhan was born on June 20th, 1954. Yes, 63 years ago today, and who better to remind us of this legend than Pratap Jayaram, a motorsport legend himself. Pratap Jayaram today, posted on his social media profile sketches of the cars built by himself and his father A.D Jayaram. But these aren't ordinary sketches.
The sketches were done by none other than Sundaram Karivardhan himself, and Pratap Jayaram posted it today, on his birth anniversary in remembrance of Kari and his motorsport days.
Kari was a racing driver, race car designer and businessman. One of the pioneers in the field of motorsports in India, he had designed the Formula Maruti racecar and had supported many racing drivers during his career, including famous names like Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok and Armaan Ebrahim.
There are thousands of racing drivers in India, and a larger number of those who are involved in motorsport. But how many of them have a racetrack named after them? Turns out, none other than Kari. That, is how big an influence Kari was, on the Indian motorsport scene.
At a young age, Kari trained with the Jim Russell race school in England before coming back and racing in India at Chennai, Sholavaram and Kolkata. Kari was unique in the fact that the cars he raced - Premier Padmini, Datsun 510, Sipani Dolphin, Formula Atlantic, etc. were all designed by himself. He had even attempted to develop a Formula 3 car all by himself.
Back in the 70s, cars were a rare sight in India. In such a situation, when a group of people came together to race cars, it is obvious that this motorsport community would be a close-knit one, and these sketches of the Jayaram family's cars are a result of that bonding within the community.
Pratap Jayaram and his Father, late A.D Jayaram are well-known among the motoring community in India. A.D Jayaram was the person who built the first forced induction car in India, by installing a roots-built supercharger on a Standard Super 10, making it touch 185 km/h. It might not seem like much today, but that, 57 years ago, in 1960, was a big achievement.
Mr. Jayaram did not stop at that, but went on to do something new, something different, something that the world had not seen till then. He built the Jayaram GT. Back in 1969, when there were barely any cars in India, Mr. Jayaram decided to build something that would rival the likes of Porsche and Jaguar.
That desire was the beginning of the legend that the Jayaram GT is. A few hours everyday in the garage for four years, and finally, in 1973, the Jayaram GT was driven out. The term passion for cars might just have been invented after looking at the Jayaram GT. The attention to detail is just fantastic, and it becomes mind-boggling when one remembers that this car was built 57 years ago.
The Jayaram GT was powered by an engine from a Herald, but it wasn't even close to its stock 948cc. This engine was worked upon so much that it now is running 1.4-litres and putting out 140bhp.
That kind of a specific power output (output calculated for a standard 1.0-litre displacement), in 1973, was more than cars from some really big Italian automotive companies. Say, maybe, a Ferrari? Now you have to remind yourself again, that this was built in a home-garage. In India.
That sort of passion for cars cannot stay with one person without being passed on to the next generation now, can it? That's exactly where Pratap Jayaram comes in the picture. Pratap Jayaram has carried on his father's legend.
Known popularly as Bobby, the second-generation Jayaram too has a revered place in the motorsport community. He has had a role to play in the development of electric cars in India, and is the man who designed the Reva electric car, known internationally as the G-wiz.
On the motorsport front though, Pratap Jayaram is known for something as far removed from electric cars as it gets - petrol guzzling, fire breathing racing cars. His company, mantra racing has developed some pretty quick cars till now The quickest and most mental of them though is the Revabusa - a mixture of two completely different worlds.
Built by Pratap and his son, Sharan Jayaram, who, like his father and grandfather has taken to racing, it is the body and frame from a Reva electric car, redesigned and now powered by the engine from a Suzuki Hayabusa which has then been tuned to produce as much power as it possibly could.
The sketches of the Jayaram cars done by Kari stand as a true testament to the camaraderie in the world of motorsport despite the competition.
Turns out, the camaraderie shared between Kari and the Jayarams go beyond motorsport. The two families have known each other for four generations now, since the time Pratap Jayaram's grandfather set up the Kuppuswamy Naidu Hospital in Coimbatore.
Such close association meant that, Kari and Pratap knew each other since they were two-year-olds, and that way, they ended up doing most of the racing and rallying together.
Kari was killed when an aircraft he was learning to fly in, crashed on 24th August, 1995. We remember Sundaram Karivardhan Naidu on his birth anniversary today.
The Indian motorsport scene is truly unique. The story of legends such as the Jayaram family and Kari continue to inspire many, even though it has been years since A.D Jayaram and Sundaram Karivardhan Naidu passed on.