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The Rally is organized by the Stateman newspaper in association with the Vintage Car Club of India. It aims at encouraging the preservation, use and restoration of early motor-cars and the enjoyment of vintage motoring.


In 1902 the first car was imported into India and their numbers gradually increased as the British and the Maharajas placed orders for the then latest models. For, the erstwhile royals weddings, coronations and hunting were incomplete without cars which were customized for their requirements. Thus Chevrolets, Rolls Royce, Bugattis, Dailmers, Cadillcs, Bentleys . . .purred gently on Indian roads. With no lacks of resources their owners maintained them passionately but with the abolition of privy purses after India's independence it became difficult for the erstwhile rulers to maintain a fleet of cars and some of them were sold off.


The lean patch for the beautiful cars suddenly brughtened up when Prof. N. P. W. Moore of the Imperial College, London expressed the need for organizing vintage car rally in his feature on Motoring Notes in The Statesman newspaper. Moor himself drove around Delhi in his vintage Alvis. The idea resulted in the first Rally being held in 1964 with almost 30 cars participating. For the Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally, the cars start assembling by 7:30 am at Statesman House near the Connaught Circus end of Barakhamba Road. Over 50 old cars, including half a dozen in the Classic section are customarily inspected by the chief of Army Staff and then flagged off by him.


The vehicles could include a 1907 Darracg, a 1919 Citroen, a 1920 Daimler, a 1927 Chevrolet, a 1928 Baby Austin, a 1930 Buick, a 1934 Lagonda, a 1936 Bentley . . . the oldest being a 1906 Rover - all painstakingly restored, Joining the fray may be the quaint fire engine of the former Nizam State Railway, which is otherwise exhibited at the Rail Transport Museum. Built in 1914 with an 80 HP engine, a chain drive and turbine type pump, it was in use until 1960.


For the first Rally held in 1964 about 30 cars dashed to Bharatpur taking a lunch break at the summer palace of the Maharaja of Bharatpur at Deeg. The route customarily taken, in the past years, by the cars is from Connaught Place, down Janpathm, a right turn on Rajpath towards Vijay Chowk, then down Dalhousie Road past south Avenue, onwards around the Teen Murti Circle, through Shanti Path on to Moti Bagh, and straight down to Outer Ring Road. The cars then take a right turn past Signals Enclave, moving on to National Highway 8, Badshahpur and then towards the popular tourist complex Sohna in the neighbouring state of Haryana. The Time Section of 20 miles starts at Rajpath, just short of Vijay Chowk and ends at Maliby Town, a complex on the Gurgaon-Sohna highway. Participants proceed to Sohna for the Hill Climb. Competitors are required to climb the hill under the observation of Hill Marshals positioned at a number of points. The cars ascend one at a time and are marked for the safety and quality of the climb. On climbing the hill, the competitors are asked to park off the main road and not begin descent till the marshal's signal. Then they descend, proceeding to Sohna for a lunch break. The Second Time Section starts on leaving Sohna and ends at the DLF Qutub area. The third Time Section is betweeen DLF Qutub Enclave and the finishing point at India Gate and awarded points for the original maker's specifications, engine, coach work, interiors instrumentation, tyres and wheels, chassis and general maintenance


There are 24 trophies, categorized according to the horse power of the cars, in the Vintage Section that includes cars manufactured before 31st December 1939. All vehicles must be in a sound and roadworthy condition .Cars must complete the course to be eligible for trophies which are warded for the oldest car, the best aggregate performance in the road section, the best maintained car, best restored car, best lady driver, best performance in the hill section, most elegant looking car, for the best maintained British car, best maintained car not manufactured in Britain, the oldest American car participating in the Rally to name some of the trophies. Entry of Classic Cars, according to the Dalton Watson Guide includes those cars manufactured between 1940 and 1955 and are accepted as a separate event. There are three trophies in the Classic Section. These are for the most elegant and best maintained classic car manufactured in the USA to complete the course. There is now another category of Post War cars belonging to the period between 1945 to 1962 with a horse power of 15 and above. The trophies are awarded at 5:30 pm at India Gate.

For information contact Statesman House, Connaught Circus, New Delhi - 110 001. Tel - 331 59 11 - 7.


Ten National rallies for cars and nine for motorcycles, all over India, a two Sunday circuit racing extravaganza at Chennai, a Sunday of International Formula Asia class racing and an Indian crowned the Formula Asia Champion 1996. Does that sound shocking? Wait, there is more.......

This was the year 1996, not to mention the scores of local rallies and picnic events in addition to at least a dozens MOTOCROSS events. Indian Motor racing is roughly 50 years old and rallying 30 years. The pathetic fact is that the common man is blissfully unaware of motor sports, save for the spate of international events televised through STAR SPORTS and ESPN.

Though motor sport started with circuit racing in India, the fact today remains that racing has hardly progressed within thecountry.


It was 15 years ago that MRF Ltd., then Madras Rubber factory, got into motor racing, which was the only available motor sport even then. Starting on a very modest scale, the red, black and white team brought into motor racing the team concept. Though many other sponsors tried their hands at building teams. it was only 'Team McDowell' which made a worthwhile impact on the 'red shirts'. Coimbatore's S. Karivardhan with his 'black beauty' formula car then stormed the scene. The managing Director of Lakshmi Mills, he brought in 'Team Lakshmi Mills' about 13 years back.

In 1992 another tyre company entered the fray. 'Team JK Tyres', the Delhi based truck and car tyre manufacturers, pooled in a big sum and entered into a deal with Karvivardhan and ran the 'Team Jk Racing'. But MRF was the natural leader in rallies which gained prominence in India in the eighties.

What started out as basically outings and picnic rallies became more serious and in 1990, the National Championship for rallies was announced. Though the champion was not paid any prize money at the end of the year, it became highly prestigious to win the title. Starting with two modified classes and one stock class for cars and a modified and unmodified class for motorcycles, today there are championship trophies for the champion driver/navigator in a modified and an unmodified class in cars and motorcycles.

Jasdeep Shingh, a rallist from Delhi who took part in a car rally in the South, found it exciting and informed his friends, Hari Singh and Gurinder Singh Mann and the JK Rally Team was born. Putting together a deal with Karivardhan to tune their cars, Team JK made steady progress. Hari Shingh, their anchor man, nicknamed 'mountain rat' for his rate delivery, began to make an impact and Team JK started to gain placings. In the years 1992 and 1993, the front runners for JK tyres grew in maturity and driving skill.

In 1994 and 1995, with the last leg of the car championship slated to be held at Hyderabad in December, the infants on the rallying front, Team JK, swept the boards, winning both the driver's and the navigator's and the navigator's championships.

In 1992, another team, Team Paarel, based at Irinjalakuda in Kerala, made its presence felt on the rally circuit. With four cars and six bikes sponsored by the Paarel family who are basically plywood manufacturers, the team chose green as its color and won the tough Karnataka rally in 1993.

The rallying field in the country has been progressing at a rapid pace over the last couple of years. It was only during the Gulf war that rallies and races were stopped to satisfy public opinion on wastage of fuel.

Rallies were shortened to 750 kilometers as long as they were part of the national championship and that has made competition very tight. Team MRF, Team JK, Team JCT and Team Paarel are the only four teams in India today. Indian car have hardly got into sponsorship for each manufacturers has a monopoly over his product and there is no necessity to advertise his product.


The 'red shirts' and the 'yellow devils' - that's what they are called in the highly charged field of motor sports. Team JK in yellow and Team MRF in red, have quite charged the color of motor sports in India, in the last three years.

If the battle of the tyre gaints can be compared to anything it could be akin to a Lilliput trying to poke a needle into a gaint's legs - Team JK being the Lilliput and Team MRF the gaint.

MRF sponsored the first Formula car 15 years ago. JK Industries, with hardly any knowledge of the sport, made their entry into the field just two years ago. Team MRF always emerged victorious and there seemed little to stop them. But it had taken six long years to become this consistent.

After initial struggles, Team JK has begun to make an impact this year. 'Yellow lighting steals the thunder' reads one of their ads and for good reason.

After winning the season's opener at Bombay in 1994 MRF pulled out of the next two at Coimbatore and Madras in protest against the decision by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India to ban one of their drivers and riders. JK took the cue and promptly won both the events.

Though MRF was back after that, they were outclassed by JK in both Popular Rally and Castrol Rally D' Endurance, thereby earning their first ever championship victory in both the modified and Unmodified class of cars.

1994-1996 have been bad ones for MRF. the problems they faced from the FMSCI and their own 'divide and rule' policy has spelt disaster for them. This has allowed their competitors to steal a march over them.

MRF seems to have learned their lessons the hard way. The beating they have taken is perhaps for the best in the long run. They are already working out their strategy for 2000.

Rallying has weathered the harder days and reached a commanding position today. The ten rallies that form the National Championship has encouraged even circuit racers to get into it so that there is year long activity.

Motorcross, the cheapest form of motor sport and the second most physically demanding sport after football had taken greater strides in the from of Shyam Kothari, Pratap Bhaghwat and Ashok Raja. All the three are from Pune, considered the 'Mecca' of Motorcross in the suncontinent. The top three have raced in the U.S. on invitation in 1994. Though they could not match their countries, it was a dream for the 'Power machines' to race with greater competitors.


Motorsports in India is still the bastion of the creme de la creme, thanks to the low level of sponsorship. The known sponsors are MRF Ltd. and JK Tyres, while the invisible sponsors are TVS Suzuki. All three manufacturers use information they gather from rallying for the R & D if their tyres and motorcycles. While these are the companies who spend on the sponsorship of competitors, the scene in 'Event Sponsorship' is totally different. Castrol India Ltd. sponsors the National rally Championship and all the rallies except three. Popular Automobiles, ITC Ltd. and the Club are the other three sponsors.

The current talk among motor sport fraternity is the new breed of car manufacturers come up in India and the possible sponsorship that could up from them. Ford and Hyundai have made Chennai their home. Though the Hyundai factory is opposite the Sriperumpudur tracks, there hardly seems to be any move to 'sponsorship' from their end. The other manufacturers hardly seems to be making any progress in this direction. On the otherhand Maruti Udyog had recently started conducting 'Picnic Events' in all the major metros to bring public attention to their product and the recent reduction in cost of Maruti products.

The manufacturers have to match the cost of Maruti, the Indian 'in thing' car and mass produce to reach the Indian mass. This should easily take four to five years more.

It is when this happens that the visitors to India would feel homely enough to invest major chunks in motor sport. Motor sport in India has tremendous potential with a huge populace who could complement the sport. One has to make the common man part of the sport and make him feel one with the adventurous game. Motor sport would only then read as MOTOR COMMON SPORT.

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