Coming soon: A TSR grand prix | india | Hindustan Times
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Coming soon: A TSR grand prix

This August, the lowly machchhar (mosquito) of Indian roads ? the auto-rickshaw ? is going get an unprecedented rise in stature on the motoring map.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2006 01:50 IST

This August, the lowly machchhar (mosquito) of Indian roads — the auto-rickshaw — is going get an unprecedented rise in stature on the motoring map. It is going to be the star of a 1,000-km rally from Chennai to Kanyakumari — dubbed the Indian Autorickshaw Challenge —braving "misty jungles, balmy coastlines, flooded streets, monsoon rains and overpowering Indian crowds".

The marathon is the brainchild of Aravind Bremanandam, the 29-year-old principal organiser of the event. It all happened while he was putting together the Budapest-Bamako rally last year, and a number of rally enthusiasts from around the world — some of them participants on the Paris-Dakkar and other daunting circuits —told Aravind that the "real challenge" would be to drive on Indian roads.

And if it's in India, what better way of putting everyone on the same shaky ground than giving each team one of those yellow-and-green three-wheelers, arguably "the most Indian of all motor vehicles"?

Some 20 international and three Indian teams have already dished out the Euro 1,000 (about Rs 58,000) fee for taking part in the seven-leg Indian Autorickshaw Challenge, to be held during August 21-28.

Each team can have four members at the most, but the fourth member would have to tag along on another autorickshaw or a Royal Enfield Bullet. Aravind, who runs an advertising company in Hungary and owns a boutique hostel company in India, promises that the sponsorship money left over after covering the costs would go to charities working on children's education and road safety.

Thankfully, one of the first rules put up by the 15-strong team of organisers is a speed limit of 50 kmph. That should calm the nerves of anyone who has ever been hurtled along on Indian roads in a rattling tinpot.