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Motorsport Fans in India Deserve More! Experience of Aamby Valley Drag Racing Event (12-Mar-17)

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by , 03-31-2017 at 11:10 PM (490 Views)
Quote Originally Posted by jeevan.chaukar View Post
Dear All,

Today (Sunday, 12-March-2017) I visited a drag racing event (So called India Speed Week) at Aamby Valley, Pune. This I did because I am sufficiently crazy about Cars and Motorcycles and consider myself a serious Motor Sport Fan.

My experience at the event left too much to desire and hence I wanted to share my feelings with fellow bikers!

What went wrong?

The answer is pretty much everything except the competitors who tried to do their best and did entertain the crowds.

  • Approach to the Venue - We just heard that there is this drag racing event at Aamby Valley Air Strip. We know Aamby valley area since we visit it very frequently. But otherwise there were no directions/indicative boards anywhere to suggest such a big event was happening in this area on the way from Lonavla to Aamby Valley. Zip!! Nada!! Shoooonyaa!
  • Reception/Ticket Counter - First surprise was about the ticket rates. They were obscenely high! The people who were issuing entry passes were rather rude and were least bothered about the arriving fans. Almost every person would have travelled from Mumbai or Pune to this place if not from further places. They were not even greeted with any smile. One smug faced man and even more smug faced smoker woman (can't call her lady due to behaviour!) were manning the counter. They just told us in very curt manner - tickets are available at Rs 1500, Rs 2000 and Rs 2500 or something like that - they just told in brief that first were rates for just standing anywhere inside as a viewer under scorching sun. Of course there were no umbrellas or anything even on temporary basis. What was special in Rs 2000? There were just some wooden platforms on which you could sit - but the canopy cover was totally inadequate as we later found. Worst thing was after all the demonetization, these great people were not accepting any cards and we had to shell out cash of Rs 1500 per head. Luckily one of us had cash and we were able to get in somehow.
  • Approach to Viewing Area - We were able to take our bikes in but found that we had to ride through totally unpaved dusty uneven land (not a proper road at all) to the parking which was close to the main viewer area. There were no proper signs and not too many people to really help in doing proper parking. Everybody haphazardly parked as they pleased - basically it was not done in any manner better than any local village mela in remote parts of India. Certainly not something owners of Super Bikes and Premium/Super Cars who formed majority of the visitors would like.
  • Viewing Area - There were just some railings against which one could lean and stand - under hot sun. No protection. No availability of drinking water across multiple places. It was available in just 1-2 places which were not easily accessible. As there is lot of open area and unpaved land, wind was blowing fast frequently causing small dust storms - we had to inhale plenty of harmful fine dust particles.
  • Announcement, Information Display, Commentary - Announcements of who is racing whom, which bike, do they have any previous records - whether this is initial round or is a semi-final, final etc were very much absent. The commentator was present only intermittently and he babbled on and on about irrelevant stuff more (mostly about some of the sponsors) instead of actual competitor and competition..Display of information was pathetic. Some of the sensors didn't work properly and it either didn't display timings of some competitors or it displayed it too late. Sometimes the runs were head-to-head between two people but sometimes only a single player ran his vehicle though there were other people lined up...May be it was due to some kind of class/category differentiation or some other valid reason - but we as viewers never understood what that valid reason was. Commentary was LEAST exciting. Even galli cricket announcers do a better job.
  • Venue Hygiene and Cleanliness - There were absolutely no dust bins available in most of the places though I was sincerely searching for them and didn't want to throw away my plastic water bottle or tin can randomly just like several other Indians who care least for public cleanliness. Toilets were few and far in between. They were not in greatest condition. Plastic bags, wrappers, torn papers, tin cans were flying all over the venue including the drag strip (as already mentioned, the winds were blowing rather fast and frequently) and was causing distraction at times to the riders who were competing. Overall despite this event being attended mostly by so called hi-fi or cream layer of the society, it did absolutely nothing better on cleanliness front than any village mela attended by unruly and careless villagers (some melas could be actually better than this event). Seriously I felt sad by seeing this situation. If such big bang and expensive events are so dirty, what message are we giving to foreigners who were in this event??
  • Attitude of organizers towards viewers like me who wanted to give feedback - As I was rather unhappy about how the event was going on, I tried to reach out to organizers and tell them straight about what I didn't like. But unsurprisingly, I failed to find who actually important organizer was in that whole mess. I tried talking to a senior person wearing FMSCI badged shirt. But he said he is only handling technical parts of the event and not real organizer who managed operations. Nobody was ready to let us access real organizers. Some security people in fact pointed us to same person as important guy who already dismissed us saying he wasn't one!

Overall, attending the event was a huge disappointment. I recollect a far better yet very similar event that I attended long long ago (13-14 years back) in Bandra, Mumbai in which many more cars and bikes participated though in those days super bikes and cars were not very common. But it was far better organized at least in terms of announcements/commentary etc and it was totally free for all the public. Food/drinks availability was also much better during that event. Location was just opposite Lilavati Hospital in Bandra.

If you ask me this question - " As a passionate biker/car driver, should I really attend the event called India Speed Week as a viewer?" then you know my answer.

Positive points:

  • We did see some really fast bikes and cars. Especially the bikes were quite entertaining. But with so many negatives, it was NO PAISA VASOOL!
  • There were at least some international people (read westerners/foreigners) and there were some good looking cheer girls/umbrella girls etc (many of them were foreigners as well - God knows if they hired some Ukrainian girls that frequently are seen dancing in background during typical Hindi dhin-chak songs)

Hope you find my article useful. I truly think Indian Motorsport Fans deserve much better - especially if they are paying huge amount of money for such events (Rs 1500/2000/2500 are not at all small sums and definitely too much if you have to just stand under the sun).

Really I don't mind paying money - but I expect at least GOOD if not GREAT facilities. If I paid several lakhs for a bike and spend so much money in petrol every week, then I might as well spend money for nice sporting events. But not like this for sure.

Jeevan Chaukar

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