That any sport other than cricket is hardly lucrative for a sponsor is well known and keeping that in mind, the only recognised motor sport body in India, the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) is planning to come out with new initiatives that would bring in more corporate sponsorship for national level racing events.
First in line is strategizing a new look for the way motor sport is perceived by Indian corporates.
The new look would involve drawing up events not only for professional racers but also for corporates and their families. This would be a complete change for motor racing which is known to be a sport for the classes.
Traditionally, sponsorship in motor racing has come from mostly those companies who are involved in motor sports or cars or automobile technology in some way but the organisation is working with other companies as well to fuel mutual interests through motor sport.
"The trend began with a cellular services company sponsoring a rally championship in the country which set a precedent for other non-automobile related companies to think of motor racing as a lucrative investment, " said Vicky Chandhok, former president and one of the strategy makers at FMSCI.
However, the comparison of investment required of a driver in any decent category of motor sport and a corporate sponsor is staggeringly different.
A seat in the World Series Championships would require a financial input of at least 6,00,000 Euros and even the other events like Formula 3 championships and Formula Renault cost more than 3,50,000 and 1,40,000 pounds per seat.
Whereas, to be a part of the merchandizing or promotional events from India, sponsorship for local events even with talented drivers at the fore would at the most be around 25-30 lakhs which shows no signs of changing in a hurry.
Thankfully, the low sponsorship fees are now catching the eyes of the bigger corporates who have started commercialising the sport in different ways in order to share a pie of the motor sport growth in India, said Chandhok.
The body also plans to popularise alternative forms of the sport like slush racing and dirt racing along with new moto cross events to bring the crowds and more participation levels in its national events.
Talking of Formula One coming to India, Chandhok told Business Standard, "Financially, we are in a position to host a Formula One event. Definitely, it would take some planning to put the right infrastructure in place but the main detterent to hosting a Formula One race in India is the commercial viability, ".
While the customary rights fee of 10-30 million dollars to the Formula One management would be ensured, for the local host, there would be limited gain other than income from sales of tickets and terrestrial television.
This is probably why big investors are still shying away from motor sports in India even as other Asian countries have already started capitalizing on the commercial benefits of the sport, he added.