INTERVIEW Why Raymond scion Gautam Singhania thinks it is important to create a pan-Indian identity for the Super Car Club
Gautam Singhania walked with his natural swagger on the lawns of Radisson Resort Temple Bay (Mamallapuram), even as a group of friends and admirers rushed to meet him. Head honcho of the Raymond Group, he commands such notice even in informal settings because he plays really hard. From yachts and steamboats to super cars and jets, a jumble of hobbies fills Gautam's leisure.
His interest in fast-moving machines is huge; it, however, does not override his business commitments. As he has struck an almost impossible balance between multiple hobbies and huge business responsibilities, the media has named him “The Complete Man”, the tagline of his brand too.
It was supercars that had brought him to Mamallapuram. The Super Car Club (SCC), which he founded in 2009 along with Autocar India's managing director Hormazd Sorabjee, conducted an event in Chennai for the first time, and the display of super cars at the temple town was a prelude to it.
Gut-wrenching drives at the Irrungatukottai race track were the major attraction of the two-day event. Gautam made a generous offer to members of the press. Anyone could hop in for a drive. “But if someone has a weak heart, he better stay out of this,” he warned. The patience with which he posed for photographers with his Ariel Atom 3 is a sign of his resolve to popularise SCC. He wants SCC to move beyond Mumbai and Delhi, its strongholds, and encompass the entire country. When his friend Manoj Lulla (chairman, Madras Cosmopolitan Round Table 94) suggested that SCC bring its flagship event, ‘Parx Super Car Show', to Chennai and use it to raise funds for children with cancer, Gautam heartily welcomed it. Because, besides providing succor to the children, the event would enable SCC to spread its wings. Gautam believes SCC will get bigger, simply because it is not driven by commercial motives. “It is not a manufacture-orchestrated group, but just a body of super-car enthusiasts.” At present, the group consists of 200 members around the country. While a sizeable number of them get together for Parx Super Car shows, small clutches of members go for regular drives, locally.
For SCC-Mumbai members, Pune to Lavasa drives are common. Gautam is looking at creating city-based chapters vested with sufficient autonomy to organise local events. Without hiding the fact that SCC members derive immense pleasure from driving in groups, Gautam explains that SCC is not an enclave closed to the larger society. It will also contribute to charity through its shows and take the wonderful world of super cars to the common man. “When someone looks at these vehicles, he is bound to be wonder-struck. They will bring a smile to his face. And, they are also likely to inspire him to work harder, earn more and possess such vehicles.” For Gautam Signhania, machines have been a driver of self-development. When he was four, he got a go-kart. His first car was a Premier Padmini, a market leader at that time. Ever since, he has been driven by the desire to drive the best cars in the world. The desire has rocketed him into the world of Ferraris and Lamborghinis. And he wants to share his joy with the world.
The new Volkswagen Beetle and the Mercedes Benz CLS-Class were parked at the sides of the entrance in a space reserved for special cars. Getting to see these cars together was a rare sight for many.
The ‘Parx Super Car Show' brought together expensive and fast cars from around the country — Bufori La Joya, Rolls Royce Ghost, Jaguar XK, Porshe Carrera, Porshe Panamera, BMW S 351, Ferrari, Lamborghini. Porshe Cayman, Mercedes Benz SL600.