MUMBAI Nov 10 Organisers of India's new
motorsport league hope a dash of celebrity glitz and glamour
will help attract a core following and deliver the same kind of
success as the lucrative Indian Premier League cricket
Riding the momentum of India's inaugural Formula One race
last month, the i1 Super Series will roll out in January and
feature nine teams competing in 12 races to be held in India,
UAE, Malaysia, Bahrain and Qatar.
Styled on the IPL's popular city-based model, franchises
have to pay $20 million for a period of 15 years for owning a
team. The league's promoters, Machdar Motorsports, said most of
the teams had already been paid for.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has become a co-owner of the
Mumbai franchise, and promoters have also pulled off a coup by
roping in Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador.
Cricket great Tendulkar's love for fast cars is well known
and his association will only help the league to become more
popular, Chief Executive Darshan M told Reuters.
"Sachin is a very large and popular icon who believes in
popularising motorsport," Darshan said in an email interview.
"We believe he will take the sport to the masses and cut
across all barriers of region, language, age, gender etc."
The IPL dazzled fans with the exciting Twenty20 format,
player auctions, post-game parties and heavy advertising.
Celebrity owners are part of the show and include Reliance
Industries chief Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, as well as
spirits and airline magnate Vijay Mallya.
"We have chosen the IPL model because we learnt a lot from
the city-based loyalty and spirit that IPL showcased," Darshan
said, adding that the winning team would take home $2 million in
"After all India is a large country with so many cultures
and nothing showcased the diversity and passion better than
"IPL also demonstrated that world class sport when combined
with entertainment was an unbeatable combination and we have
tried to learn from the same."
Darshan also said the inaugural Indian Formula One Grand
Prix in October at the Buddh International Circuit could not
have come at a better time.
"Formula One was very useful in popularising and educating a
large section of India with the nuances of motorsport," he
added. "We are keen to build a world class sports entertainment
property and we believe motorsport is at the right stage to
develop (in India).
"We believe there is huge scope to improve infrastructure
About 95,000 spectators attended the glamorous F1 race on
the outskirts of the Indian capital, which also attracted
unprecedented viewership and earned rich praise from the
While agreeing that there was a dearth of talented drivers
in the country, Darshan said at least one of each team's two
drivers must be Indian.
"We acknowledge there is a shortage of talent in India. It
is one of the reasons we have created this concept as it will
help develop more motorsport talent in the country," he said.
"i1 will be the pinnacle of motor sports in India and offers
talented drivers in the country a huge opportunity and career
The teams will race the Radical Sportscars' SR3 roadster in
the sports car racing series.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford; to query or comment on this
story, email email@example.com)