Let me begin by saying this isn’t about cars per se. While it does have some connection with them, this blog post is about motorsport in general. Last week, the city of Mumbai’s somewhat famous landmark, Marine Drive, played host to India’s first Grand Prix of the Seas. As an utterly novel event for the city, I had to check it out. The more I read about it, the more I wanted to witness these 250bhp+ boats jostle for victory at this maiden event. There was also the fact that these races are normally held out on the open sea. It’s marked by only two or three floats to show where you have to turn but the Mumbai event had 5,700 buoys or floating balloons demarcating the track, a new Guinness World Records for a race.
While the race was taking place from Friday to Sunday, due to various reasons (such as work and inconsistent friends), I ended up going on the last day of the event. Despite the hot, sweltering afternoon sun (not that there is another type of sun in Mumbai), there was a pretty large crowd standing at Marine Drive all around watching the 5km race happening. Having arrived after Sunday’s race had begun, I was a bit lost as to who was in the lead. Fortunately, the spectators caught me up with the happenings, well enough to know that this is a team sport where individual glory is slightly less important.
The 25 boat line-up had drivers from all over the world including two Indians, probably the most accomplished motorsport people India has produced; Asia Pacific Rally Champion Gaurav Gill, and two-time Dakar survivor CS Santosh. With just two months worth of training, both drivers did themselves proud and showcased their newly formed boating skills. CS Santosh and his co-pilot/navigator, Martin Robinson, managed a podium finish thanks to a brilliant race by teammates Sam and Daisy Coleman, who dominated to win all three races on the weekend. Despite technical issues on the last day, Gill managed a respectable fifth overall.
Prior to the event, there was a lot of talk that it wouldn’t happen. The local government had been bungling the management of the racing event and if it wasn’t for a high court order, the race might not have happened despite everything having been cleared well in advance. Mumbai does have quite a few events every year on its calendar but this one was one of the first that got my blood pumping. The drive back home was quick and rally-style (while being within the law), and not because of the need to get out of the heat. The race definitely produced a surge of adrenaline, enough to make me dedicate this and the next post to motorsport in India. Stay tuned.