Where hands cannot erase grit, there is Vikram

Meet the 45-year-old rally driver whose hands were charred in an accident, but the feet reached the accelerator.

Vikram Agnihotri (left) and his co-driver and friend Ankit.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Rally driver Vikram Agnihotri has no hands. It does not matter much for him as he believes his feet will do the magic on the wheel — and a bit of talking too — on his maiden venture in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018 which began here on Monday.

It was not a great day for the 47-year-old from Indore and his co-driver and friend Ankit on the opening day but they called it a great experience. The former has come a long way in life and its all about grit and determinaton that has pushed him to the extent of driving on the desert, considered to be the most difficult for even the best of the drivers. “I knew it's not going to be easy because I have not been here before. They say 'ignorance is bliss' but I am the one who is always ready to face whatever comes my way.”

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Incidentally, Vikram is the first from India to get a license for driving with his feet. It was not an easy task though for the ambitious driver. He had to run from pillar to post for close to two years and pass several tests before obtaining it last year. He was also instrumental in the Motor Vehicle Act being ammended accordingly.

Vikram's story can serve as an inspiration for many who run through such difficulty.

A post graduate in Economics, Vikram came in contact with a high tension wire while playing at his friend's terrace top. He was only seven then and it turned out to be tragic. “My hands were charred and had to be amputated but luckily I survived because I had my feet off the floor. I did not realise what was happening then but my parents motivated me and got me on my feet,” he said.

"If an incident like this had happened to anybody they would have gone into a shell but my parents gave me the impression that nothing had gone wrong and there's more in life. And, it did," he added.

Vikram went to school like any other child, learnt a bit of football and swimming and kept himself occupied. But a chance visit to Germany in the eighties changed the course of his mind and his life as well. "My father was an IPS officer and he was on a deputation to the foreign ministry. So we had to be in London for two years and another four years in Germany. There I met a gentleman called Franz. He was born without hands but he was one who made those small useful gadgets for people with such difficulties.”

So on his return to India, Vikram had this on the back of his mind and towards the latter part of his life he drew inspiration from it and decided to make the best use of his feet on a car.

He picked up a Celerio automatic and tried his ‘hand'. “I did not go for an expensive one because I was afraid whether I would get the license. Many laughed at my decision and asked me why drive at 45 but, I fought all odds and today, I am a happy man,” he said.

Vikram has since then driven around 60,000 kms on congested roads and through heavy traffic. But his first race outing was with the Malwa Adventure in Indore. "An official there gave me an invite and I grabbed it and even converted it into a win in the amateur class. The second came my way through Central Motorsports. I did not do pretty good and we lost out by two minutes," he added.

The Desert Storm is his third and he is one who believes in challenges in life. “Without it, life is going to be boring, I look forward to more of it.”