Enaam Ahmed is truly a force to be reckoned with. This racecar driver from Pakistan, at merely 17 years of age, was the youngest ever British Formula 3 champion. In addition to this, Enaam was the British Champion of go-karting at 12 and the World Champion at only 14. There’s no stopping this truly inspiring young Pakistani, as he aims to become the World Champion of Formula One in the near future.
During his recent visit to Karachi, Ahmed has a tête-a-tête with OK! Pakistan, during which he discusses his proudest achievements, race-day rituals, experiences with racism, what keeps him motivated, and so much more…
You are a Formula 3 (F3) Champion driver who has broken several records. What is the biggest misconception that people have about what you do?
Enaam Ahmed: I think they think that most drivers are arrogant. There are actually quite a few arrogant drivers, but I’ve never actually been one and there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. I found that when you’re a confident person in general, you tend to stay more quite. There’s also a misconception that drivers have a wild lifestyle. Some do, but me definitely not. The only wild thing about me is how much I have to travel, which is all over the place.
You were only 14 when you started breaking records and at 17 you became the youngest ever British F3 champion, how did it all begin? And what has been your proudest achievement to date?
EA: It started when I was eight years old and went go-karting with my father. By the time I was 12, I was British Champion and when I was 14, I was World Champion. I think the two biggest achievements include the British Formula 3 Championship and winning the World Championship in karting, because not many people can say they’re the world champion in something. Also, winning the most races in British Formula 3 history was a big achievement for me because it was a record that was held for 40 years.
What is the one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
EA: Calm down. You don’t need to be as aggressive as you think.
What were some of the challenges that you have faced as a South Asian driver? Do you think you have it harder?
EA: In some ways, yes. We have had some minor racism problems, especially when I was growing up. In go-karting, especially, there were some incidents. Once I got beaten up and there were things like that, but the best way to handle it was the way my dad said to just beat them on the track and that’s what we used to do.
Tell us about an incident in your career that you wish had gone differently.
EA: There’s nothing really in my career that I wish would have gone differently because everything made me the person I am today. The determination I have is from all the hard times that I did have. If I didn’t have those hard times, I would not have been the same person I am today and my mental fortitude wouldn’t have been so strong.
Do you have any race-day rituals that you follow prior to your race? Any superstitions, or anything you prefer to avoid?
EA: I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t believe in magic or anything like that. I’m a Muslim so I pray and I tend to pray before a race any way. Usually I fall asleep before a race and they wake me up just before I need to jump in the car. Falling asleep before a race calms me down actually and doesn’t make me as aggressive, which is better usually for me.
How do you celebrate a win?
EA: I don’t really celebrate wins that much to be honest because I always look at the next target. I’m probably happy for five minutes and then my mind immediately forgets about that and moves on.
This is your first time in the country. Why did it take so long? What memories will you take back?
EA: This is not my first time in the country but I did come here a long time ago when I was younger around the time when I was starting racing. When my racing career started, I lived all over the world, and to be honest, I haven’t been home in general – even to my parents in like five to 10 years. I have hardly been home – no more than two weeks in the whole year. Before this I was living in Japan so I’ve been everywhere.
I will take back a lot of good memories. Definitely a relaxing feeling but probably the biggest memory will be the fact that I got sick within two to three days and I’m still struggling now, so I got the full Karachi experience. [Laughs] So it’s been good.
Who always drives shotgun in your car?
EA: No one wants to ride shotgun with me because they’re too scared to go in a car with me usually. So no one.
You managed to set the quickest time overall in qualifying for the Freedom 90 race in Indianapolis, while you were ill (going against doctors’ orders). What is it that keeps you going?
EA: I want to prove to the world that Pakistan can be the best in the world at anything that they choose – any Pakistani can do it. So it doesn’t matter if I’ve broken bones or I’m sick, I’ll still jump in and get the job done, no matter what.
Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
EA: I see myself being the World Champion in Formula One.
You are an inspiration to so many people around the world. What advice would you give them for achieving their dreams?
EA: The advice I’d give is winners never quit and quitters never win. That’s the only thing that runs through my head when things are hard and it looks like there is no way out.
Favourite race to date?
Toronto Grand Prix
Song that you are currently listening to on repeat in your car?
Believe it or not, Pakistan Zindabad – it really fires me up!
Who inspires you?
Talent or hard work?
Your first car?
Celebrity dream date?
Miley Cyrus when she was Hannah Montana.
Last book you read?
The Holy Quran.
If you weren’t a racer, you would be a….?
Best age to start a career as a racer?
INTERVIEW: MAIRA PAGGANWALA
PHOTOGRAPHS: MALIKA ABBAS & ALI BALOCH