JK Tyre National Racing Championship is one of the most prestigious and popular motorsport events in India. It has gained the status of being a stepping stone for aspiring racers in India. This achievement becomes even more pronounced and amplified when one takes into consideration the popularity and reach of motorsport when compared to other sports such as Cricket. 2018 is witnessing the 21st edition of the championship the idea of which was conceived around 30 years ago.
Text: Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sunil Gupta & JK Tyre
In the early 90s, rallying was the rage and JK Tyre was right there at the top of the scene winning the national rally championship seven years in a row. But times changed and the interest of the youth shifted to single seater racing i.e. Formula 1. JK Tyre saw an opportunity there and in 1997 the concept of circuit racing was taken up by JK Tyre. It was christened as the JK Tyre National Racing Championship and the rest as they say is history. JKNRC has produced some of the biggest Indian names in the world of motosport. Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, Armaan Ebrahim just a few of the many names that have left their mark in motorsports on an international level.
The event was bound to be a hit for a few reasons, the most prominent being it provided a platform for youngsters to showcase and hone their skills and a spectacular racing event for the spectators. The hard work and commitment of JK Tyre proved to be the backbone of the prestige that the event has garnered.
Being familiar with the history of the JKNRC, I knew that the event was going to be a blast but even my pre-prepared mind could not handle the sheer scale of the event. Right from the first race of the 21st JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship on Saturday, I was assured by my mind that this is Disneyland for us motorsport enthusiasts. The picturesque Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore, the screaming engines of those ‘stripped to the bare essentials’ race cars leaving nothing but a blur as they sped along the main straight and the screeching noise of the tyres created a world where someone like me who loves motorsport, just could not contain my excitement and had a grin plastered on my face. And this was just the Round 1.
The round 1 of the 21st edition of JKNRC was a landmark event as well. For the first time in the history of single-seater car racing in India, has an event seen the participation of an all women racing team—Ahura Racing. This is a very proud moment for all of us seeing the women taking charge in a sport that has long been considered a male-only domain. All the races over the weekend were thunderous and provided ample entertainment for the huge crowd that turned up on the weekend. The insane stunt show consisting of both cars and bikes and performance by the percussionists added even more to the already exciting event.
But being a motorcyclist, without undermining the crazy phenomenal car races, I was waiting eagerly for the subtraction of two wheels from the racing machines i.e. The JK Tyre Suzuki Gixxer Cup. There’s just something about motorcycles that just… let’s leave that for some other day.
I lost my mind as soon as I laid my eyes on the race-spec Suzuki Gixxer stripped off of anything that isn’t conducive to racing and being fast. Even when the ignition was off, those lowered handlebars, rearset footpegs, racing exhausts were shouting RAAACCEEE! And as soon as the engines were fired up on the countless Gixxers, I shifted to another dimension. I just wanted to ask for the keys of one and let myself go nuts on the track. Not that it would have ended well, but I was just too overwhelmed.
But more than everything, what was truly a sight to behold was the sheer number of riders who were selected and were getting ready for the race. So many riders from almost every part of the country were there to live their dreams of racing on the track. And let’s not forget that in the Gixxer Cup as well, we had a female racer who held her own even against the seasoned boys in the race. The race itself was a spectacle as the riders competed for the coveted trophy. Some very interesting moments were also witnessed and the riders battled for gaining positions and shaving seconds off of their lap times.