Mysuru: Gravel racing is booming in popularity as evident in this morning’s Dasara Gravel Fest, an autocross event for four-wheelers near Lalitha Mahal Helipad, where over 3,000 adventure enthusiasts gathered to see cars zooming on dirt-and-gravel tracks. Dirt roads provided a perfect sanctuary for a gravel rider.
Charged up crowds cheered as race cars and modified mean machines, driven by expert drivers, zipped past tracks and navigated hairpin bends and cleared humps and hurdles. The smell of engines and thick dust mingled with the roar of race cars. The event was aimed at bringing the halcyon days of motor racing back to Mysuru along with its associated glamour.
Today’s event was jointly organised by Automotive Sports Club of Mysuru (ASCOM), in association with the District Administration and the Tourism Department. It was inaugurated by Tourism Department Director B. Ramu, Mysuru DC Abhiram G. Sankar and Deputy Director, Tourism Department H.P. Janardhan.
The event began at 9 am and over 3,000 spectators had assembled at the gravel tracks. As it is a Sunday, crowds were continuously pouring on to the venue. Making hay when the sun shines, many food and snack stalls were set up at the venue where snacks were sold like hot cakes.
It was a two-kilometre track and was divided as ‘Track A’ and ‘Track B’ (inner and outer tracks) where two cars could move simultaneously. While one set of cars entered the main track crossing a ramp way, the other group of cars took the route under the ramp to join the main gravel track.
In all, 178 racers from New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh participated in the festival. Though a similar Gravel Fest was organised in Mysuru, it was held today for the first time as part of Dasara.
There were four categories of cars – 800 CC, 1,000 CC, 1,400 CC and 1,600 CC – apart from categories including Mysore Open Novice (that provided a chance to local youths), Open Category (any type of Indian and modified vehicle), SUV Category and an exclusive Women’s Category. It will be an all-day event where there will be 98 races.
It took over a week for the organisers to set up tracks for the Gravel Festival and all the racers were taken on a walk of the tracks last evening for them to familiarise with obstacles, undulations, dirt tracks and twists and turns.
Top Indian car racers including V. Vijayakumar who owns Chennai Race Track, Ketan Shivakumar, Den Thimmaiah and Bopaiah and others took part in the racing. 14 women drivers too participated in their racing category. Maruti Esteem and some of the customised race cars stole the show with their booming sound.
Sources from the Automotive Sports Club of Mysuru told Star of Mysore that from the year 1988 till 2000, there were many reputed racers in Mysuru and it was considered Number 1 sport. “Gradually, the numbers fell. This Gravel Festival has been organised with an intention of bringing back the racing glory to Mysuru,” one of the organisers said.
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