Mumbai: Inspired by the success of the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, a host of celebrities and businessmen, most prominently Shah Rukh Khan, Telegu superstar Nagarjuna and Dabur family scion Mohit Burman, have invested in teams for the lucrative Indian Racing League owned partly by Sachin Tendulkar.
According to the Times of India, the championship - called the i1 Super Series – is the brainchild of the Machdar Motor Sports Company. It will comprise eight city-based teams - Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Pune - with cars forming a 16-member grid. The inaugural edition will run from January 8-February 12, 2012 in Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lampur, Doha and Bahrain and will feature F1 and Indian talent.
Each team will have three drivers: one international driver, an Indian with international experience and one domestic driver. Each weekend will have a qualifying session and two races, making a total of 14 races in the league. Team owners and drivers will be selected on invitation basis only and no party will be allowed to apply to race in the league.
Costs for a 15-year franchise have been estimated at $20m. Investors will be required to pay a deposit of $5m and the remainder in installments of $1m during the ownership period.
Tendulkar and Sanjana Reddy together have bought a 26 per cent share in the championship. Shah Rukh and his IPL franchise co-owners Juhi Chawla and Jai Mehta will own the Mumbai franchise, while it is reported that Burman will secure the Delhi franchise. Air Asia owner Tony Fernandes and UK-based hedge fund manager
SG Srinivas will own the Chennai team, Nagarjuna and entrepreneur N Prasad, the Hyderabad team, and Yuvraj Singh co-owner of the Chandigarh outfit. Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly is discussing the possibility of leading a consortium to bag the Kolkata franchise.
Ten Sports will be the official broadcasters of the league. The Machdar group is reportedly also set to receive the necessary permission from the governing body of the sport-Federation International de l'Automobile and the Federation of the Motorsport Council of India.