Sunday, April 02, 2023
LONDON: Proudly waving the flag of Pakistan across the world in the Formula racing circuit, Enaam Ahmed has become the first ever Pakistani to be a World Champion in Karting — beating the records of Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Not only that, but Enaam is also a British Formula 3 Champion — the first-ever high-level Formula Championship winner in the history of Pakistan — who broke the record of Ayrton Senna by winning 13 races in one season.
Driving cars at an average 200 miles per hour, the 23-year-old is going places with his winning streaks on dangerous tracks, making sure that his car carries both British and Pakistani flags. Enaam is one of the brightest and most exciting young racing talents in motorsport. He has been winning Championships and breaking records from the age of 14. Enaam is also the most successful Pakistani heritage racing driver ever in the history of motorsport because he is also known as the most successful British Formula 3 driver in history.
Enaam was born to Pakistani parents in London 23 years ago. It was at the age of eight that he started taking interest in racing. His parents started funding their son’s passion by sending him to local Go-karting tracks for children but they had no idea that their son would become a European and world champion at the age of 14 — one year younger than Lewis Hamilton who was 15 when he became the world champion.
When Enaam announced his decision of car racing to his parents, they told him they would not be funding him anymore and he would need to learn to stand on his own feet to explore his opportunities or return to normal life and finish his university degree and then do whatever he wants to.
Enaam left the comfort of his home immediately to live in Japan, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States to focus on professional driving. He has not looked back ever since.
In an interview with Geo and The News, the star racer explained his achievements.
He said: “I was 14 years old when I won five championships in one year. The two most important ones are the European Championship in Go-Karting. I won that when I was 14 years old while Lewis Hamilton won when he was 15 years old.
Then, at the age of 17, I became the British Formula 3 Champion, the first time ever a Pakistani won a major Motorsport championship beating the record of Ayrton Senna.”
Naturally, Enaam felt very proud when he beat Lewis Hamilton’s record at the age of 14 in Go Karting which is the most competitive racing one can do at that age, and beating Lewis Hamilton’s record was a huge achievement.
There was a lot of pressure on him to win those competitions for himself so he could make his name but also to impress his parents and to show them he made the right decision of leaving home at a very young age — when most of his childhood friends played around the nearby Hyde Park.
The most important factor for Enaam has been to win these accomplishments as a Pakistani-origin racer. He said with pride:” For me, it matters the most that I won these races at the world stage as a Pakistani and races at the world championship level and the European Championship level as a Pakistani. Not just to do it but to win it, this makes me very proud and there is a long way to go.”
The 23-year-old has a driving simulator set up at his home in London when he’s with his parents. However, he spends most of his time in the US as that’s where he drives cars as a professional.
Speaking on the matter, he said: “The training is usually twice a day. That’s not the hardest part though. The most difficult thing to do is to go out at that young age and get sponsors as these are sponsors who fund races. I always have to perform and win in order to stay in the game. If you don’t perform there are no sponsors behind you to move forward. For example, right now I race in the United States in the series called Indy Nxt which is leading me to IndyCar — the biggest series in the US.
“I am the first ever and the only Pakistani to take part in these races. Alhamdulillah, I am lucky that I have big sponsors from America who are sponsoring me this year to race in America and they have enabled me to live my dream and get to the top in the two biggest racing series.”
Racing is a sport that is considered unique and daring as the drivers are required to have a lot of courage, especially driving at well over 200 miles an hour at high speed involving quick turns, twists, and dangerous corners.
Enaam’s mother doesn’t watch any of his racing and has avoided watching his races, as she doesn’t want to see her son driving at such dangerous speeds.
The racing star says that driving Formula cars is a dangerous sport, especially in the US because the average speed there is much higher.
He explains: “The walls are very close and these are concrete walls. When you hit a concrete wall at 200 miles an hour you could kill yourself. Racing in America means people get hurt or even killed. That’s dangerous but the danger is what this sport is all about.
"And that makes it exciting for me because, at the end of the day, you have nothing to lose. My mum and dad don’t agree with this but that’s the way life is.”
The British-Pakistani racing star left home at the age of 13 and his father told him he would have to find sponsors on his own. “My father told me you are leaving school; you will have to find sponsors and your niche.
"I had no sponsors at the start but I won massive races, made and broke records and the sponsors came behind me. I had a lot of support from Pakistani Americans. There are two massive sponsors.”
The formula racing driver says he has come across a few Pakistanis and tried to perform with a few of them. He says that they couldn’t make it big because they never had the required support base.
“I was very lucky that I was racing in the UK from a young age and I had more exposure. I trained with the best in the racing field. The problem in the South Asian countries of Pakistan and India is there are no racing car facilities and the government pays no attention. There are hardly any good Go Karting tracks, the ones made are in a bad shape.
"Compare this with the European countries where there are 20 tracks in every country and the sport is loved by millions. I am racing in the US right now and taking part in the biggest racing events. No Pakistani or South Asian has made it this far ever. The only higher priority is to win the Indianapolis 500 race. Then I want to be the first Formula One World champion for Pakistan.”
Enaam also shared that huge costs are involved in the thrilling sport. According to him, his team spends a minimum of $8 million each season.
“Formula 1 is $150 million a year. Pakistan doesn’t have that kind of resource. People in the West spend huge amounts on this sport. I am lucky and glad that I am liked and picked as a driver. I have always taken risks and my belief is that don’t look back and don’t hold back, even when the world is against me I have always believed that I am the best.”
Enaam is currently taking part in the IndyNXT series in the US.
About his future plans, he is optimistic. He says: “I want to finish this year’s season off and race in the Indianapolis 500 next year and be the first Pakistani to do so. Then I will set my target at getting into Formula 1.”