Of the California Superbike School that teaches safe riding and coaches racers

There is a flush of triumph on T.T. Varadarajan's face as he talks about the launch of the California Superbike School (CSS) in Chennai. The Managing Director of Preethi had signed up for a course at the premier school in the U.S., primarily for techniques to ride powerful superbikes safely.

Ever since, he desired to bring the school, operating in over 100 tracks covering 27 countries and four continents, to the city.

His aim was to expose promising young Indian racers in the super sport category to coaching of the highest standards. As it costs over $5000 in the United States, a CSS course is beyond the means of most racers in India.

While Varadarajan's goal was noble, it could not be accommodated in a recession-hit world. Another source of frustration was the super coaches' non-availability. Top men such as Keith Code (founder of CSS) and Andy Ibbott (responsible for popularising CSS outside the U.S., especially in the U.K.) work on a tight schedule drawn up for a year.“These guys have punishing back-to-back training assignments; they literally live on the tracks.”

After a long incubation period, we finally have what is, probably, the first superbike school in the country. In association with Red Rooster Racing, Preethi organised the first CSS course two weeks ago at the MMSC track in Irrungattukottai. A small team of coaches, led by Ibbott, trained 24 bikers over four days. Sixteen of these riders were sponsored by Preethi.

The trainees included Krishnan Rajini, Rohit Giri and Alisha Abduallah. The level of enthusiasm for the course was mirrored by Sumit Lucas Toppo, a Jharkhand lad who used an interpreter to communicate with Ibbott and the other coaches from the U.K.

“Given the restrictions on funding, Andy has done a tremendous job. Four coaches have done the work of 10,” says Varadarajan. The training involved riding and off-track sessions. Each day was packed with five or six sessions.

Varadarajan would have been happier had the sun been less piercing. Off-track sessions, conducted inthe air-conditioned comfort of the glassed towers at the MMSC track, were a great respite. “To the best of my knowledge, even in the U.S., off-track sessions don't come with the luxury of air-conditioning,” says Varadarajan.

To beat the heat, the course would be conducted in January next year.

Self-sustaining

That is not the only change planned for the next edition. To make the school self-sustaining, a paid session is likely to be introduced for every sponsored session. Considering CSS teaches safe-riding skills, it is realistic to expect bikers without racing ambitions to gravitate to its courses.

Non-racers at the recent course included Dinesh Reddy, managing director, Red Rooster Racing; T.T. Siddarth, director-operations, Maya Appliances; and T.T. Varadarajan. They sought to master techniques that would make riding superbikes safer and more enjoyable.

To highlight CSS' expertise in imparting safe riding techniques, a safety ride was organised by CSS, in partnership with the Chennai City Traffic Police, on the eve of the school's launch.