We take a look at The Men, The Machine (s) and The Track, which
have put Tamil Nadu on the world map of racing.
Rex Strong, K Varugis, G M Donner, K V Srinivasan, the Rajkumar
of Pithapuram, Raja D V Appa Rao, J H Dye, P Matthen and
K A Sillick, these are the names of the men who were instrumental
in bringing about a organised set up for racing in Chennai, namely,
the Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC). That was way back in
the 1950's...Over to the new millennium; today the future of Indian
motor racing rests on young racing icons like, Narain Karthikeyan,
Parthiv Sureshwaran and Karun Chandok.
Karthikeyan, 'the Fastest Indian in the World' is now on
the threshold of F-1 racing. His speed and raw talent are attracting
the attention of top Grand Prix teams and he is expected to
break into the F-1 circuit in the next two years. He trained
at the Elf Winfield Racing School in France and it is indeed
to his credit that he has achieved so much with so little.
Having already tested with the Jaguar Racing team and Jordan,
it is just a matter of time before he becomes the first Formula
1 Indian driver.
Narain Karthikeyan, the two brightest hopes for Indian motor racing
are Parthiva Sureshwaran and Karun Chandok.
Even as a child Parthiva was fascinated by cars and took to driving
at the age of 12. With father Sureshwaran himself a
racing aficionado, the encouragement and backing was always there
for Parthiva. He won his first race on his debut at Sriperumbudur,
driving a Maruti Esteem. It was there that he decided to
do the full stretch in racing. From there he went on to the
Silverstone Racing School in England. After that he
raced in the four-race Formula Ford British Winter Series
before graduating to the Asian Formula circuit. With
age on his side, Parthiv has a good chance of getting into F-1.
Karun who is yet to attain the legal age to obtain a driving license
is setting the Indian racing tracks on fire. The youngest
of the three, Karun Chandok, son of motor sport veteran Vicky
Chandok, he has successfully carried the family baton of excellence
on the racing track from his father. Having excelled at the
Formula Asian 2000 series, this youngster holds a lot of
promise for the future.
machines have come a long way from the MGTDs to the Ambassadors
to the Qmaarri's or Group Fiats and more recently
to the Formula India Single Seater Maruti Engine (FISSME)
class. And they are sure going to get lighter, better and faster
in future. The racing fans in Tamil Nadu have been treated
to everything from the MGTDs to the FISSMEs. Let us take a
look at some of the machines that have left a mark on the history
of racing in Tamil Nadu and India.
The first cars to be raced on the roads and deserted airstrips
were the MGTD's and after that came the age of the Ambassadors and
Fiats which ruled the tracks for many years. The ordinary
Amby's and Fiats had to be fitted and strengthened to take the stress
of racing, because if one were to race in an ordinary Amby, he could
say farewell to his back. Till the late 80s motorcar racing
was restricted to a few Group N and Group A Fiats, Formula Indians
and the Group AII Fiats. The cars have evolved since then.
the 90s and Maruti Udyog entered the racing scene. They started
supplying engines and gearboxes at subsidised prices, which prompted
other component manufacturers to chip in and there emerged the FISSME.
The FISSME class has provided a starting block for many of today's
motor racing heroes including Narain, Parthiva and Karun.
Things have moved on and already other models from Maruti like Esteem,
800, Gypsy and Zen have been homologated. Baleno and
the new Esteem are also slated to join the list. We
will soon be seeing Honda City's, Hyundai Accents and Ford
Ikon's being raced alongside these cars. These models
will become eligible for racing once they are homologated.
Homologating is a process by which car manufacturers in the country
furnish FMSCI with technical details about a model. A homologating
committee then inspects the vehicle and decides its eligibility
for racing track.
It was sometime in the early 70s, that the effort towards acquiring
a land near Sriperumbudur, for putting up a world-class race track
started. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the Madras Motor
Sports Club, construction of the track finally began towards the
fag end of the 80s. The Irungattukottai race track, which
is the first of its kind in India was inaugurated in 1990. On 8th
February 1998, for the first time in India, Irungattukottai witnessed
Formula Campus cars in action. Sixteen single-seater cars, using
1350cc Renault engines with a five-speed gearbox, built by the Frenchman
Claude Fior were raced on that day.
track is 11 meters wide and has 10 major curves, apart from a number
of minor ones. A smaller club circuit of 2.1 kms is also available
for shorter events. The main track has three straights, with the
longest one being 250 meters. The main circuit is about 3.717 kms
long, while the club circuit is 2.010 kms long. The circuit
conforms to the two international bodies - the Federation Internationale
de Automobile and the Federation Internationale du Motocyliste,
who lay down the norms for racing and racing circuits.
Tamil Nadu has always been the hotspot for motor racing in India
and now with the West Bengal effort to get an international racing
track also on the backseat, Chennai is all set to rule the roost
for many years to come.
|Author : Joseph Pradeep Raj R