Anarrow lane near Rizvi Nagar, Santacruz, is flanked by dust-covered cars on one side and automobile repair shops on the other. We keep our sunglasses on even though the sun is no longer that bright: the constant welding all around is near-blinding.
Among the recognisable car models is an oddity: a long, cylindrical structure, made with window grills. Suspended on two small tables, it is attached to four bicycle wheels. It looks like a rudimentary rocket at first glance. Or a canoe maybe. Or a cross between the two.
“It’s supposed to be a banana. You’ll see it too when we drape it in yellow fabric,” says Dipen Kakkar (27), a Go Air aircraft maintenance crew member, clearing our doubts. He is a member of Bananonians, one of the teams competing at the Red Bull Soap Box Race (RBSBR), in association with HT48Hours, this weekend. This is the second edition of Soap Box in the city. Launched in 2012, it’s the first of its kind event in India.
Originally a German concept, a soap box race is when an engine-less, rudimentary car, made by amateur builders, is pushed down a steep ramp. It must then cruise on the racing track, complete with multiple turns and obstacles, based entirely on the momentum it gathers down the slope. Think the stone-wheeled car from The Flintstones.
This year, 44 teams have registered for the event, and have designed cars using pop-culture references — from a Batmobile, to a car designed after the shoe-shaped structure in Kamala Nehru Park, Malabar Hill. Kakkar and his team’s car, for instance, is inspired by the Despicable Me franchise, and is called Bananonino. “The team members will be dressed as Minions,” says Kakkar. Another team, Finding Dowry, will ride a wedding mandap on three wheels.
However, the popularity of the Minions is not the only interesting factor about the car. Wanting to construct the vehicle from scrap material, Bananonians visited Chor Bazaar looking for spare car parts. It was here that they managed to get a 1985 Italian Fiat steering wheel that now sits inside the Bananonino. “The total production cost is Rs 12,500. It’s not much if you consider the little piece of history our car features,” says Kakkar.
LIVE STREAM: We are going LIVE at the event on November 13, 4pm.