February 10, 2005
Written by C.N.
This probably won’t be notable to many people who don’t follow international open wheel motor racing but in case that describes you, you may find it notable that the Formula One team Midlands Jordan Toyota has just named Narain Karthikeyan as the first Indian-born driver ever to race in Formula One, the pinnacle of automotive technology and competition and most popular sport in the world in terms of television and event audiences, next to World Cup soccer.
There have been several Japanese drivers in Formula One and one from Malaysia, but never one from India. As ESPN RPM explains, this move bodes well for Formula One’s long term goal of expanding its schedule of races away from Europe where tobacco advertising is usually severely limited, and into Asian countries such as India, where there are virtually no restrictions: “It also gives India, an attractive business market for sponsors with its enormous potential audience, a Formula One focal point after a stalled attempt to host a race in the country.”
In case you’re wondering, there have been American drivers in F1 of course, but never an Asian American driver. The only Asian American race car driver right now who has any notoreity is 28 year old Roger Yasukawa, who races in the Indy Racing League (a professional series that includes mostly oval races, including the Indianapolis 500). It’s hard to say whether there will be an Asian American driver in F1 anytime soon, which is rather ironic considering the prominent role that young Asian Americans have had in the sport compact import scene over the last decade or so.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Formula One’s expansion into Asia increases the chances that an Asian American, not just Asian, driver will one day race at the highest level of motor racing in the world. At the least, I hope the proliferation of Asian drivers in F1 helps to quell the stereotype that Asians can’t drive. This is assuming that Karthikeyan doesn’t fall flat on his face and embarass himself . . . and us too.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Indian Driver in Formula One" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/02/indian-driver-in-formula-one/> ().
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