Motorsports in India
CHANDIGARH, India, April 14 -- In the month of October every year for the last 13 years as the snow falls on the mighty Himalayas, an army of raiders storm the high altitude mountains in a motor sport event known as the Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya. This is a 2400Km marathon in altitudes as high as 6000 metres, where over a span of 6 days the raiders travel through ever changing terrain.
Though hockey is the national sport of India, still people prefer watching cricket over hockey. Cricket might be everyone’s favourite, but today’s youth want adventure sports. They like thrill in a game, and that thrill they cannot get until and unless it’s an India vs. Pakistan cricket match. Slowly and steadily motorsports in India is capturing the interest of the youth. Over the last few years it has been gaining a lot of momentum and popularity and this was quite evident at the recently held Formula 1 in Delhi. Autocross events are also increasingly becoming very popular in India. Autocross is a form of motor sports that emphasizes safe competition and active participation. An autocross is a timed competition where drivers compete with each other through a defined course on either sealed or unsealed surfaces.
When asked Vijay Mallya if India is ready for formula 1, his answer was “Absolutely. It is a classic chicken and egg situation! What comes first? Do you need the popularity first and the race next or do you have to have the race and then the popularity will follow. The race will definitely popularize motorsport - and in particular Formula One - in India. I think by the time the race actually really happens there will be a huge increase in the number of Formula One fans in my country.”
Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) is a rallying series organised by the FIA and Motorsport Association of India. The championship first received its National Championship title status in 1998.
Vijay Parmar, president Raid-de-Himalaya formed the Himalayan Motorsport Association in 1999 to retrieve an apparently hopeless situation of the motorsport in India. He won the confidence of the Himachal government and the support of Maruti Udyog Ltd. for the first Raid de Himalaya. With the money in place and the “real” Himalaya as the playground the first Raid de Himalaya was born.
Breaking with the traditions in place at the time, the ‘Raid’, as it has come to be known, ran a marathon format with special stages sometimes longer than 100 kilometres. Another critical break was that the ‘Raid’ had both cars and bikes in the fray. 2 wheel rallying was back and how! In 2012, Raid-de-Himalaya conducted its 14th rally event. When asked Vijay Parmar the secret behind the rally’s success and international recognition, he said “I think we came up with the right concept at the right time, there were no motorsports events in the North and very few in the southern part of the country. Anyways, half the charm of the event is the terrain- the Himalayas.”
In 2001 a team of experienced motorsport enthusiasts came formally together, some with over 20 years’ experience in the sport , with the objective of revitalizing motor sport in the region through some innovative events. Today, over 20 events later Northern Motorsport is considered the leading motorsport organization in North India. They have successfully devised and conducted a huge range of events, including Rally Desert Storm, India's first international cross country rally.