CS Santosh
© Ishaan Bhataiya | Red Bull Content Pool
Supercross

Discover CS Santosh’s journey in supercross from racer to team owner

The rider from Bengaluru recounts how he went from winning championships to building infrastructure and creating opportunities for young riders.
Written by Shail Desai
6 min readPublished on
CS Santosh’s first opportunity to hop on a bike was around the same time he started dreaming about his future.
This was the early 2000s when he started riding to college and also witnessed his first motocross event in his hometown of Bengaluru. C Vijaykumar’s exploits en route victory left Santosh in awe of the things that could be done on two wheels.
“I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what he was doing out there on the track. There were so many people watching him and Vijaykumar earned a lot of admirers by the end of that race. Then the next day, there was an article in a daily that said that he was going to the Asian Motocross Championship. And I thought to myself – wow, I would love to do something like that on a bike and earn respect,” Santosh recalls.
CS Santosh

CS Santosh

© Ishaan Bhataiya | Red Bull Content Pool

Until then, a bike was all about commuting for Santosh, a two-time supercross national champion, who went on to become the first Indian to finish the daunting Dakar Rally. While growing up, he would be ferried to school on his father’s Rajdoot RD175. The aura of a bike grew on him and once in college, he promised good grades in exchange for a gleaming Suzuki Shaolin.
“I admit it was a bit of a lie, but I had to do it,” he says.

A lack of opportunities

His early days spent mountain biking were a good initiation into the world of breakneck bursts of speeds, agile turns, and often, eating dirt. At the Palace Grounds in Bengaluru, he now started practicing the same manoeuvring on a bike. His folks had little idea about it; and likewise, Santosh had little idea about how he could get into professional racing.
“All my learning happened under Mr Krishnamurthy at his workshop called Zen Motors, where I would go every other day and spend many hours talking to him. While there was a racing scene in India at the time, there were few avenues for a novice to get in,” Santosh says.
CS Santosh in 2015

CS Santosh in 2015

© Ali Bharmal | Red Bull Content Pool

There was the odd road racing stint at the Irungattukottai Circuit in Chennai, after which he was quick to realise that it was unaffordable. But in 2003, when he heard that TVS was scouting for talent, he knew this was his chance. He sourced used riding gear and jumped on a train to be a part of the Gulf Dirt Track in Hyderabad. And after taking second spot in the standard Group D class, he was selected for the TVS Factory Racing Team.

Finally, a foot in the door

Having followed the journey of racing legends such as Ricky Carmichael and Carl Fogarty, the importance of a religious work ethic was clear to Santosh. The day would start at 4:30am and he would soon make his way to the Kanteerava Stadium to work on his physical fitness under an athletics coach. He would then travel 35km on a local bus to get to the TVS facility in Hosur and put in the hours on the bike, soaking in the feeling of being part of a team.
“I had never experienced anything like it before. There was a senior rider, CD Jinan, who took me under his wing and taught me how to jump and corner. Besides, he would allow me to ride a foreign bike on the sly and after observing my abilities, put in a word with the management. Only then did I have access to one of the foreign bikes,” Santosh says.
All along, he lied back home about going to college. But he had to spill the beans when he was refused a exam hall ticket for poor attendance.
“That was it. I couldn’t write my exams and never got to finish my education. My parents didn’t say a word; they handed me the ultimate freedom to pursue what I wanted to,” he says.
CS Santosh in 2015

CS Santosh in 2015

© Ali Bharmal | Red Bull Content Pool

A quick learner

All his focus was now on racing and the streamlined training with TVS complemented his resolute efforts. With a vision to be among the best, it took little time for Santosh to make his mark. One of his first major wins as a TVS rider came in Pune, a hub for motocross and supercross racing at the time.
“I was up against Yamaha factory riders who rode 250cc, 4-stroke bikes, while I was on a 125cc, 2-stroke, bike. And I was still able to beat these guys. It was the first time I realised that I too could win races,” Santosh says.
At his first National Supercross Championships in 2005, Santosh was up against Vijaykumar, the defending champion of the Foreign Open class and the man who had inspired him to take up the sport. By the end of their duel, Santosh took top honours.
“I was at another level because of my fitness and the manner in which I approached the race. That championship gave me wings to go abroad and ride at the Asian Championships,” Santosh says.
CS Santosh at Rally Du Maroc 2017

CS Santosh at Rally Du Maroc 2017

© Kin Marcin | Red Bull Content Pool

Working at the grassroots

Over the next five years, Santosh went on to regularly compete and win races in Asia. Over time, he realised the wide gap when it came to Indian riders and their foreign counterparts, which had a lot to do with the training infrastructure and the kind of races they had access to.
“At the time, there were no avenues for someone who wanted a taste of motorsports – no place to train or what it felt like to race. Even for me, it was quite ridiculous that I had to go to Australia to get some good training. It’s why I set up BigRock Dirtpark on my father’s farm to enable others to work on their riding skills,” Santosh says.
Through the facility, Santosh’s idea was to curate the culture of motorcycling at the grassroots. And when he heard of the Indian Supercross Racing League (ISRL) taking place in 2024, he realised he was looking at the top end of the same pyramid to grow the sport in India and invested in BigRock Motorsports, one of six teams in the inaugural edition.
“I too raced supercross back in the day and there was nothing that I could do beyond the National Championships. There were six rounds then, which is pretty much how it is even today. Honestly, I never envisioned being a team owner someday and in this format of racing, but through Indian Supercross Racing League, I know I can enable a lot of youngsters to set off on their own journey,” Santosh says.
CS Santosh's BigRock Motorsports wins Indian Supercross Racing League 2024

CS Santosh's BigRock Motorsports wins Indian Supercross Racing League 2024

© Indian Supercross Racing League

The first season of the ISRL had three rounds – Pune, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru – and 18 Indians competing across the four classes. It also featured ace riders such as supercross champions Matt Moss of Australia and Tomas Ramette of France.
“Through the league, Indian riders are able to compete against world class athletes and observe them up close as teammates. We never had that opportunity when I was racing in supercross. Their learning will grow exponentially and you’ll see the results in a few years. The process is underway,” Santosh says.

Part of this story

CS Santosh

IndiaIndia
View Profile