I’m quite the motor sports fanatic and follow F1 very closely. Watching F1 stars burning their tyres on the race tracks on TV is exhilarating enough, but when you get to see this live, it’s a different experience altogether.
I realised this recently when I experienced the truck racing live, up, close and personal. The sheer thrill and adrenaline-pumping action is nothing that I had experienced when watching the sport on TV.
I’m talking about the Tata Motors T1 Prima Truck Racing competition held on March 19th, 2017 at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Noida. Watching these heavy monsters competing to cross the finish line was such an experience of a lifetime! It was also an event that changed my perceptions and understanding about a lot of things.
I’ve seen trucks ambling along highways heavily loaded - and sometimes overflowing - with goods. And never really spared a thought about them. This was the first time that I saw these machines burning rubber on a race track in India! I always thought that trucks on Indian roads averaged at 20km/hour. It came as a huge surprise to me to see trucks capable of going at such high speeds. Tata Motors actually made it happen!
The event saw the unveiling of the 1000 BHP Prima trucks that were specially designed for truck racing. Watching it zip around at 160kmph was a breath-taking experience. It actually went from 0 to 160 kmph in less than 10 seconds. As it went past, you could feel the air zipping past your face and your ears popping out. Although the 1000 BHP truck was not part of the competition, the audience got a sneak peek into what it was capable of when it clocked the fastest lap time of 1:35.674 minutes for a 3.1 kilometres circuit, easily bettering the time set by the regular 400 BHP trucks.
As the race proceeded with three categories of drivers fighting it out, another perception I had held on to, got completely changed. The Super Class and Champion Class comprised of Indian truck drivers! My first reaction was that of disbelief! I had always seen those guys sweating it out on highways and roads, and here they were, fighting it out on an F1 race track. Wow! Quite an achievement that one, training our highway buddies to follow in the footsteps of Michael Schumacher!
The event had a string of celebrity appearances including Siddhartha Mahadevan, Garima Yagnik, music sensation KK and of course the Bollywood heartthrob and brand ambassador of Tata Motors’ commercial vehicles, Akshay ‘Khiladi’ Kumar.
My favourite part of T1, however, was seeing the look on the faces of the proud Indian drivers. Their passion for racing was felt all the way up and out to us at the stands.
I joined the excited crowds in jumping up and down, screaming for my favourite heroes. While the International drivers did have other interests and/or full time jobs, the Indians relied on truck driving to earn their living. It was such an amazing opportunity to see them participate in an event of a massive scale. For them, it was a dream come true and the look on their faces was worth going a million miles to see. It was certainly a dream come true for me, as well.