He’s fast, pierces like a bullet and is made in Iran: wrong guess, it’s not the latest air-to-air missile Iran manufactured, but Kourosh Khani, a professional racer, who has been burning the asphalt since the age of seven. Khani is an adrenaline addict who spends most of his time on the track; in fact, his passion for racing really is nothing new. So we decided to sit down with him in order to get a better insight on the life of a racing prodigy before he gets too busy raffling F1 trophies.
Kourosh started getting a feel for cars at an early stage, and when I say feel for cars I’m not talking about cartoon characters flying off in their sci-fi rides on TV, I’m talking about him getting his hands dirty on the track before he knew how to ride a bike!
“I started driving when I was seven in Iran, I started doing karting races. My uncle owned the go karting track so I used to help him out in exchange for free rides. He was my mentor, my instructor because, well, he was simply a good motivational driver and that was when I started doing national and then regional races. “
The passion and motivation that Kourosh attained at an early age is quite revealing of how madly in love he would be with cars and racing, in fact so much in love it almost drove him to insanity as he calmly explains that “my dad built me two cars, one on which I did a world record jump; 30 meters long, 7 meters high.”
Yes, you read that right, 30 meters long and 7 meters high. This is a perfect example of someone how wanted it really bad! Someone who loved cars and karts, and was ready to take the ultimate risk in order to prove to himself and to everyone else that he was the right man for the job (Observe: This is not an invitation for you to jump out of the window if your dream is to become superman).
Kourosh’s racing fever didn’t cool down as he was growing up. His performances on the track kept on rocketing, taking him from one race to another and making him more engaged than ever to make a name for himself across Iran…for now.
“I was a little kid doing all this crazy stuff, racing big guys in their late 20s. I soon realized when I was growing up that leaving Iran was the natural outcome because there is only so much you can do in the country, and at the pace I was moving I had to get out in order to be able to keep improving and competing. London was the destination I settled for, and when I was 16 I decided to go for it. I joined the motorsport academy as their 2nd youngest member and fast enough I was raffling the top spot. From then on I went on to contend in higher-level competitions.”
Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith”
Kourosh might be a talented racer, but that’s not a gift he was born with, but rather worked hard to acquire.
“My uncle owned a go kart track, he was always encouraging me to become a better driver, a better competitor. All of this became natural to me as I always dreamt of becoming an F1 driver, in fact my family keeps on reminding me, till this day, of how crazy I was about becoming the next Schumacher – ever since the age of six. My dad told me he noticed I had the passion and the drive so he took it upon himself to help me develop and become the best racer to touch the asphalt.”
One cannot help but question how someone can have a breakthrough in a country media portrays as on par with North Korea, a dead end where dreams are suppressed and individual flourishing is inhibited (Or so they say), so we asked Kourosh how he kept his spark alive and his motivation up during his years in Iran.
“I am a positive person, put it that way. I always dreamt that one day I would be an astonishing driver. I used to play video games, watch races on TV and always stood in awe of all the mind-blowing racers. My heart was beating at the frequency of the engine; I was just mesmerized by motorsports. And then the first time I ever sat in a racecar, it just hit me. The dream started looking more like a reality. I realized that daydreaming was over, and it was time to start winning.
Of course my trajectory has not all been roses and rainbows. There have been many times I stumbled upon obstacles. I lost races, and sometimes got into accidents where I thought it was the last time I would ever breathe. I could have been injured pretty bad in so many cases, but I kept on surviving.
When I got to London, I went to Formula Ford first, and managed to win 3 races back to back, but then again, I hit a wall. I was stuck in a series of contracts with the team, the atmosphere was not right and I couldn’t win races for a period of time. After two years of complications, my contract expired and I was able to leave the team and join a better one and then boom! It just clicked again.” Formula 3 Cup UK, Formula Premium championship, Kourosh was piling up, podium after podium, win after win.
Haters gonna hate!
“Well as in any field, any industry, you will have people who will try to pull you down, tell you that you can’t, either out of jealousy or pure rivalry, but I was lucky to have a supportive family and a group of loyal friends, and most of all, a strong personal determination to make it to the top regardless of what people thought or said. I have a winning mentality; I will achieve whatever I set myself up for. I succeeded, and for the people who didn’t support me, well, tough luck, must have been a disappointment not to see me fail.
Kourosh Khani is a true role model for many young people out there, still exploring the world and wondering how they will carve a name for themselves. Life is hard, success is difficult to acquire and the journey to accomplishment is full of traps and setbacks. But as you move along in your quest to be the best you can, remember to learn from those who went through that path before you. Learn from their successes and failures, hear what they have to say and keep a close eye on how they operate. Kourosh is definitely one of those pioneers whose advice can save you a lot of time and trouble!
“I am a very positive person, if you dream about something, if you want to achieve a certain goal really bad, then you can do it. No mater what stands in between you and your goal, you can overcome it if you have the will and determination for it. I have experienced this; I am not just talking out of thin air. You can achieve literally anything: if you can think it, you can do it, regardless of how difficult it may be.”
“I´ve had people message me asking for advice, inquiring on how they can achieve a certain goal or objective, and even though I don’t have the time to answer everyone, I try my best to help, mentor people and guide them into better and brighter paths. It is in my nature to give back, help others because I had people along my journey who always lent me a hand. And it is truly heart warming to see how some of the people I interact with send me messages and pictures of themselves after losing weight or achieving a certain goal, asking: what’s next?
Just take people’s advice, feedback and guidance in consideration, but don’t act blindly on it. Some people will try to help, and others will hate on you, so it’s crucial to know how to discern who’s in it for you and who’s in it against you.”
My role model
“Michael Schumacher has always been an inspiration to me. It’s a shame what happened to him recently and I really hope he recovers quickly. I wish I could race against him. I also admire every single F1 driver because I know what each and every one had to go through in order to make it to the F1 track. It takes a lot of perseverance, hard work and commitment; it’s a really exhausting process. “
Success requires sacrifice
If success was easy to reach, then it wouldn’t be as valuable. Building success is like building muscles; you have to go through pain, sweat and tears, dedicating hours everyday in order to achieve that physique. It’s not an easy ride; it’s not all glamour and fun. You will never get something if you don’t give up something in exchange and just as the saying goes; there is no such thing as a free meal.
“Doing anything to the highest level is a sacrifice. I sacrificed a lot in my life but it ultimately paid off. Success is not just an activity, it’s a lifestyle and this is true whether you are a businessman, a professional driver or an artist. You are constantly watching what you eat, managing your sleep and monitoring your physical performances. Most of the time I am 100% on it, doing anything to keep myself in shape and sharp, but I also treat myself with the goodies from time to time, to eat and do whatever I want in order to steam off a bit.”
5 Year Projection
“F1 world champion. I have no doubt that what I have achieved so far has been unrealistic for millions of people, especially from my country. Many people would have never believed or imagined that I would reach this point, but I’ve managed to pull it off, and I’m very grateful for it. Claiming that I will be the next F1 champion might come across as funny, but I totally believe it and I’m pretty sure it will happen one day.”
Any last advice to our readers?
“To any young individual, or not so young for that matter, live your life doing what you’re really passionate about, be it sports, painting, entrepreneurship or science. If you really want to achieve something, set your mind to it. Make a plan to get to meet your goals and believe in them! Surround yourself with the right people; people who believe in you and who are there to support you. Believe in yourself. You are your own worst enemy; you are your own weakness. It all boils down to how you perceive yourself. You have people who will keep on telling you, you can’t do something and all you should answer is “alright, I´ll prove you wrong”. Keep on fighting, because if you persevere, you will succeed.”