TAMIL NADU

A child's driving passion

SETTING RECORDS: Five-year-old Alangar Ramanathan created a record by driving 118 km from Tiruchendur to Tuticorin and back.  

AT AN age when other children his age played with toy cars, five-year-old Alangar Ramanathan, a native of Tenkasi, is fascinated with Maruti vans fitted with `real' engines. On August 12, he created a record of sorts by driving his father's Maruti van from Tiruchendur to Tuticorin and back, covering nearly 118 km. Anitha R. Radhakrishnan, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, flagged off the trip at Tiruchendur.

The boy was accorded a warm reception at the Tuticorin Collectorate. Later, Collector V. Chandrasekaran presented him a citation during the Independence Day celebration in recognition of his achievement.

Born to Eswararaj, a businessman, and E. Gomathy, a housewife, Alangar Ramanathan developed the passion for driving cars at a tender age.

"He loved to sit on my lap and control the steering wheel and change gears when he was just two-and-a-half years old," remembers Mr. Eswararaj.

Mr. Eswararaj said officials in charge of compiling records in the Guinness Book of World Records took notice of his son. "The authorities asked us to sent paper clippings, a copy of the citation presented by the Collector, and evidence of permission granted by the Superintendent of Police for the minor to drive the vehicle through traffic with a police escort," he said. The representative of the Guinness Book of World Records has planned to come here to verify the authenticity of the record within the next 4-6 weeks, the proud father added.

Of course, Alankar Ramanathan doesn't want to rest on his laurels. "I want to emulate Narain Karthikeyan and become a successful Formula-1 driver," he said, with hope glittering in his eyes.

in Tuticorin.

From R. Vimal Kumar in Tuticorin.