Racing Championship seeks to change undesirable image of trucking

  • Gaurav Bhatt, Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
  • Updated: Mar 21, 2016 14:54 IST
A sizeable crowd turned out to watch the action at the T1 Prima Truck racing at the BIC Circuit in Greater Noida on Sunday. (Hindustan Times)

A group of dedicated (read fanatic) gamers in India spend a better part of the day creating localised mods for the cult classic ‘Euro Truck Simulator 2’. Thanks to their efforts, it is now possible to spend 90 minutes ferrying a propane tank in a retro camion truck, on a “village” map with a heavily-mustachioed Indian driver.

While the dedication is admirable, one wonders why not go for the real thing, with life-like graphics and cold, hard cash instead of virtual points?

“Zyaada log ye truck driving line mein nahi aana chahte. Public hum log ko thoda… low class mein dekhte hain,” said Mohd Parvez, a 39-year-old from Madhubani, Bihar. (Not many people want to get into truck driving. The public perceives us as being a little low class)

“But we don’t take it to heart. This is a job of responsibility and we are trusted with shipment worth crores. That’s a lot of respect.”

In a country whose economy depends a great deal on the large trucking network, a career as a driver is surprisingly undesirable.

It’s the perception that the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship — backed by the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI) and manufacturers Tata Motors — hoped to change when 12 Indian truck drivers took to the track at the Buddh International Circuit on Sunday.

For the first time in the event’s three-year history, the international ‘pro class’ drivers were joined by Indians competing in the ‘super class’ category. The finalists were whittled down from a pool of over 500 drivers who had to be less than 45, in good physical condition and should have driven a tractor-trailer for at least five years. The 132 shortlisted were taken to Chennai where they received training at the Sriperumbudur track.

“The fundamental training has helped a lot, not just on the track but on the road too,” said Nagarjuna, one of the two winners who took home Rs 10lakh as cash prize. “It was important to realise that these are two very different things. These 10 laps of 3.1km are almost as difficult as being on the road for 24 hours straight.”

Whether it makes trucking more glamorous is anybody’s guess, but the experience of racing super-heavyweights of motorsport on a Formula 1 track has done the drivers a world of good.

“It’s my love for driving that got me into trucking five years ago. But I could never bring myself to tell relatives and friends that I’m a truck driver,” said Malkeet Singh, who finished second in the first batch and took home a cash prize of Rs 6 lakh. “Now I can happily tell them that my hobby got me to this position.”

Well, that’s as good a start as any.

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