Need for speed

An engine revs in the background. Then, six more follow suit. There’s a faint humming in the distance and a group of boys scramble together. Leather jackets and gloves fly back and forth, and they’re off. The grounds of the Marina Kart Arena are studded with skid marks as the Pulsar Festival of Speed kicks off.

For many riders, it’s the first time they’ve raced their Pulsar motorcycles. For others, the long stretches of the ECR highway have been their training grounds for as long as they can remember.

“The race happening this weekend is mostly for entertainment,” says Emmanuel Jebaraj, racer and founder of Chennai’s prime racing school, Gusto. “You can call it a preliminary elimination round. This event takes place in six of India’s biggest metropolitan hubs. From each city, the top riders are selected for the finals that happen in Coimbatore.”

This race is only a small stepping stone, Jebaraj tells us, but for the 147 riders participating, the race could be the start of something bigger. With a cash prize of ₹50,000 waiting at the Coimbatore finish line, the race could be lifechanging. Not to mention, a career-building move, as it has been for riders in previous years.

“To become a national rider, you have to win races by all manufacturers. This race is by and for Bajaj customers – they market it, and actually, all the riders today have their own Bajaj vehicles that they use. That’s what makes them eligible,” Jebaraj explains.

And yet, the boys can’t simply show up, motorcycles in tow. They must go through the training clinic, learning basic safety techniques for the race ahead. The small racing track, lined with rubber tires, forces riders to go no faster than 55 km/hour as they complete their three laps, vying for a title.

The air echoes with cheers, as round after round, a new winner is declared. Bajaj keeps the crowds entertained with stunt biking, drag racing, and DIY sessions. A guest performance by singer Haricharan and the ever-popular Bennet and the Band keeps the excitement going as the evening rounds out.

Jebaraj watches closely as his team brings the next group of riders to the ground. “We hope to see some really great riders out there today. Hopefully, with events like this, we can take Indian racers to newer heights, nationally and internationally.”

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 6:08:18 AM |

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