Ali Nilgiriwala - racing champion and journalist in the making | Aga Khan Academies

Ali Nilgiriwala - racing champion and journalist in the making

"I can’t be racing while I’m on campus, so I decided to become an automotive journalist and am now the head author of an automotive blog, 'The Drive Hub.' " - Ali Nilgiriwala, grade 11. 

The go kart racer has been at the Academy for two years and has already made a mark. Ali’s IB MYP Personal Project was introducing students to the basics of professional driving. His extended essay was a research paper on fund management in motorsport, and he recently assistant coached two Lego League robotics teams. His activities on campus inadvertently link to his enthusiasm for motorsport.

Ali’s racing passion was sparked at 13, when he spent his weekends doing hundreds of laps at Pune’s IndiKarting track. At 15, Ali was spotted by Rayo Racing, a Formula Car and Go Karting outfit in Pune, and saw some success with them. At the 2015 IndiKart Kart Prix, Ali came third in the Pro Junior category. “I was going up against national drivers and champions in my first race,” says Ali, “I was scared.”

Using his foundation in motorsport, Ali built his grade 10 Personal Project on the basics of professional driving for amateur students. The project caught the interest of professional race car driver, Amer Beg, who was able to visit campus to see the project for himself.

Beg  is a road safety activist who raced in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, a series where drivers compete in Lamborghini cup cars. Ali and him were destined to get along. “It was one of my most memorable days on campus.” Ali says of the event. “I remember having a nice two-hour chat with him."

Work at 'The Driver’s Hub' gives him access to supercars in india, but Ali gives all credit for his car reviews to his English teacher at the Academy. “Thanks to Mr. Sudeep, I’ve developed some serious journalism skills,” he says, “ I don’t think I would have made Head Author if it wasn’t for the skills I developed in his literature classes.”

At the FIRST Lego League robotics challenge held in Bangalore in February 2017, the Aga Khan Academy’s team Queso won the Best Project award. Ali, the assistant coach for team Queso, was moved by his team’s hard work and determination. Ali was also the assistant coach for team Maverick as well, and both his teams scored very well. “We were happy that we got a mentor like Ali,” says Alyque Farishta, captain of team Queso. “He is fun, intelligent and also extremely supportive.”

Ali wants to go on to race professionally, but his ambitions don’t end at the chequered flag. His greater ambition is to own a GT3 racing team. “Team management or ownership is the path to stay involved in the industry long term,” he says.