The hills are alive. Not with the sound of music though, rather, the cacophonous roar of motorsport car engines.
With an auto buff of a chief minister in Omar Abdullah, Jammu & Kashmir is fast positioning itself as a motorsport destination. Srinagar is now set to host a street race, with the organisers, JK Tyres, hoping to cash in on the exotic locale.
The third season of the JK Racing Series, which has been re-christened Formula BMW, is likely to hold its third round on the streets of Srinagar around Dal Lake.
The organisers have been granted permission by the state government to issue fans a unique viewing experience — watching a race on a traditional kashmiri shikara and houseboats on the lake.
The race is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend of September. However, the organisers are yet to get a safety clearance from international motorsport body, FIA.
Speaking at the soft launch of the series, which will see drivers get behind the wheel of FB02 cars featuring a Mygale chassis powered by a 1.2 litre BMW bike engine, JK Tyres motorsport head Sanjay Sharma was confident of getting the requisite clearances and putting on a grand show.
“The state government has been very helpful and receptive about the possibility of staging the race. We’ve all seen F1 races around the streets of Monaco, but mark my words, this will also be a grand spectacle. The setting is very picturesque,” he said.
J&K’s recent motorsport tryst began with the Mughal Rally in 2010, which was a pet project of CM Abdullah. The rally gets its name from the Mughal Road, the historic path used by Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan to travel from Delhi to Kashmir.
The rally also features hill climbs to two of the highest passes in the country — Pir Ki Gali and Sinthan Pass.
Last year, the state government facilitated Red Bull Racing’s drive at the highest motorable point in the world - Khardung La in Ladakh. Swiss Indian-origin driver Neel Jani piloted a Red Bull F1 car in the testing conditions a couple of weeks ahead of last year’s Indian GP.