The path to fame is neither always rosy nor a bed of thorns. Chennai-based racer Jagan Kumar endured both in equal measures in his quest to fulfill his dreams. Hailing from a modest background, Jagan gradually topped the motorsport charts and the national championship title in 2018 was his seventh — on the trot.

Jagan was fascinated by bicycles since childhood. And a casual visit to the Madras Motorsport Race Track near Chennai changed his life. Jagan got hooked on to the adrenaline rush and decided to take motorsport as a career.

Jagan – the son of an autorickshaw driver — started his day at 4:30 in the morning, delivering newspapers. To get extra income, he started working part-time at a courier company.

READ | K.P.Aravind: Finishing Dakar has been my long-standing dream

“I used to go to college in the afternoon and then in the evenings I was working in a mechanic garage to understand bikes better. I used to work from 7 pm to 11 pm in the garage and then deliver newspapers from 4:30 the next morning. The extra income helped me inch closer to my dream," Jagan said in an interaction.

Soon, Jagan became the owner of a second-hand TVS Victor bike. "It was my first bike and I was over the moon. I slowly started racing in one-make events, the entry fee was about Rs. 350 per race in 2007 and started competing in races professionally."

"I began racing as a privateer in 2007 and had to single-handedly manage everything from logistics, mechanics and the actual race. During one of the races in 2009, TVS Racing picked me up for their road racing team and my journey as a professional racer began," he said.

However, as many a parent would feel, the risk of injuries in motorsport was a constant worry for Jagan's. "Initially my parents were not very supportive since racing is a risky and expensive sport and they were unable to support. But, on seeing my performances and dedication, they have gradually understood the dynamics of the sport and allowed me to live my passion," he reminisced.


Jagan Kumar in action at the Madras Motorsport Race Track near Chennai.


Jagan says the two years — 2010 and 2011 — when he moved from winning the novice championship to the premier open class, where he had to contend with the experienced riders like Harry Sylvester was one of the stand-out moments in his career. “When I started in the open class, the senior riders were very fast and I was way behind them often. But those two years of struggling and losing helped me to learn from the best and improve myself.”

ALSO READ | JK Tyre Orange 4x4 Fury: Maiden title for Team MOCA

The year 2012 turned out to be the start of Jagan's ascendancy. Podium finishes increased and championship titles were the byproducts of his hard work. Slowly winning became a habit and Jagan won the national championship for the seventh consecutive time in 2018. "I began racing with the aim to win as many races as possible and every championship win is special to me. Seven consecutive championship wins is no mean feat and I couldn’t have achieved it without the unrelenting support of the team.

"The technical team at TVS works day and night on our bikes and modifies each bike as per the requirement of the riders. Apart from regular training on bikes, we undergo specialised fitness training along with a regulated diet chart to ensure we stay fit. Behind every race and every racer, there is a team which is involved in various stages for a successful race," Jagan, who adores Valentino Rossi, explained on his achievement.

Jagan, however, feels there is more to achieve in the next year. Admitting that international races are on his radar, Jagan says he wants to test waters in the Apache 310 class bike category. "In the next season, I have to work on my speed and energy to keep pace with the young riders as the young generation is very fast and very competitive on the tracks. While my technical team is doing their best to make the bikes faster, I have to focus mostly on my training and challenge myself to perform better in each race. While I will continue to race, I will also look to mentor young racing talent with all the experience I have," he signed off.