Speed Racer
    Category: Entrepreneurs By : Suthasinee Jittragamthai Read : 1488 Date : Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 23:59:35

    Jetjaras Na Ranong for Forbes Thailand

    Dust fills the air as construction equipment rumbles across 160 hectares behind i-Mobile Stadium, the home of Buriram United, the Thai Premier League championship football club in Buriram province, 410 km northeast of Bangkok. Tanaisiri Chanvitayarom, 28, is admiring the view of what will become a $65-million, world-class racing circuit, and one that he hopes will draw millions of visitors and transform the economy of one of Thailand's poorest regions.

    “Look at this—the land is full of rocks, making earthwork like land grading very difficult. But in a few months, it will be done and the grandstand will sit on this hill, the highest point where you can see all the turns in the track,” says the director of Buriram United International Circuit (BRIC), which is schedule to roar to life in October 2014.

    Tanaisiri's life has taken almost as many turns as the racetrack he is creating. After graduating from Triam-Udom Suksa, a leading high school in Bangkok, he started thinking about his future. The family construction business, he reasoned, was like a thick textbook that he could learn from anytime, but if he wanted knowledge from outside, he must grab it while the opportunity is there. That led him to pursue a bachelor's degree at the Faculty of Communication Arts, International Program, at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

    After graduation, he worked as a general manager of Buriram Panasit, the $30 million sales family construction business. A year later, he studied for a master's degree in International Business at Boston University before returning to the family business. The turning point came when he met Newin Chidchob, the former politician who owns and runs Buriram United. Newin, also a native of the province, dreamed of making Buriram into a “sports town.”

    “I like riding motorcycles and Uncle Newin is also a big bike lover. We'd hang out,” says Tanaisiri, using “uncle” as a sign of respect. “Last year, I floated an idea of building a small racetrack just for fun. But Uncle Newin said, ‘Why not make it big and make money too?’ We discussed the idea for a few weeks before deciding earlier this year to build BRIC, with Uncle Newin sitting as head of the advisors.”

    The circuit consists of a 4,554-meter racetrack with 12 turns. Designed by the famous German track designer Hermann Tilke, the circuit is being built to international specifications: Federation International de I'Automobile (FIA) Grade 1T and Federation International de Motocyclisme (FIM) Grande A. As a result, BRIC will be eligible to stage world-class events including Super GT, MotoGP, F3, GT1, GT1, GT3 and the Superbike World Championships. The project also includes a five-star luxury hotel with racetrack views from all rooms.

    Adapted from Forbes Thailand.