The growl of the 800cc engine, the roar of the crowd, the way the riders lean into the corners, the flurry of sparks when metal touches tarmac, the way they overtake, the way the bikes slip and slide, and even the astonishing acts which occur when the bike hits the tarmac– Everything sets my pulse into racing mode, and I’m not alone, I have billions of other biker fans (and millions in India too)who feel just as I do when I watch my favourite bikers in action! Yes, I’m talking about MotoGP, the two wheeled sibling of the F1, the greatest when it comes to racing on 2 wheels, but the point here is that why there is no Indian on the International MotoGp scene and other aspects, and also the absence of market for MotoGP in a country like India, plus the passion for MotoGP!
Now, Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner are names which everyone knows, be it in the US, Europe, China or here in India. When these racers hit the track, hearts of billions of enthusiasts around the world go vrrooming. India is no exception. Even though a large population here rides puny 100 cc motorbikes, the urge to race, the urge to emulate the motogp riders is there!! People modify their bikes, paint the racing numbers of their favourite biker on their bikes or helmets, or if they have the money, they buy the real superbikes! Even in India, every biker(not a commuter, mind you!) wants to be a Rossi, Capirossi, Hayden, Lorenzo, Stoner, etc. And this isn’t the case in India only; around the world people follow MotoGP almost religiously, fans in large numbers cross continents to follow their racers, to support them, to watch them in action live!! Thousands of supporters visit each race, and millions of others watch these races live on TV. And out of these, there are hundred thousands who race too, albeit at lower levels.
The urge to race, especially after watching a MotoGP race is so intense that it just cannot be suppressed, such is the rush of adrenalin once you’re astride a bike, the push you feel when you whack open the throttle, the feeling of being so close to the tarmac, scrapping those footpegs, the wind and other forces of nature trying to throw you off…the feelings and emotions are way high! The feel is awesome..pure bliss! But alas, bikers in India have no place to race, no place to practice safely what they so badly yearn to!!! The only saving grace is the Madras Motor-sport club circuit in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. But can everyone head south to race in a safe environment? To top it off, the Govt isn’t listening to bikers. This results in people trying to emulate Stoner And Hayden on busy streets which is very dangerous. It’s pretty easy to spot youngsters racing through crowded streets, jumping into corners at high speeds, overtaking dangerously, and doing all sort of stunts on the streets. By doing this, they not only endanger themselves, but also the lives of other people. Biker groups are being formed at a very fast rate.
Bikeism is spreading in India, and with that grows the urge to perform, to be like the racers and stunters. To be one of them one fine day. Some sensible bikers use vacant roads, but soon such areas get a bad name, thanks to some anti social elements within the biking community. But isn’t that the case in every community? Bikers are always synonymous with crime, rash riding, and irresponsible behaviour. I agree, that yes, there are bad bikers, but then there are good bikers too. Those who want to practice what they like in ways which are safe, those who promote safe riding! Stereotyping has bad effects on the usually young bikers. They are living in a democracy, they love biking, they want to race, they do not have a place, what should they do? What will an MBA do if he doesn’t get a job? He’ll start his own business, right? But if you steal away that right too, then it will lead to frustration and possible backlash.
I’m not trying, in anyway, to say that racing on streets is acceptable till the time India gets more racetracks! No way. Street racing is dangerous and should be stopped. But, at the same time I urge that something must be done for the budding bikers so that they can also enjoy their passion. Listen to us, make some race tracks, promote motor racing in the country, give the financial aid, support safe biking in the country. It’s time to show the world that Indians are good at racing too!!!! Currently, there are hardly any Indian names when it comes to Bike racing. A sad affair for a country of a billion people…. But there are some who, inspite of all the odds, succeed! For example, take Preetham Dev Moses, who despite the lack of support and proper infrastructure, etc is a racer, and he races in a very sensible manner (i.e., abiding by all the rules)and still wins races! Preetham had almost secured a seat in MotoGp this year, but things didn’t go as planned. Still a very big achievement, considering the support given to bikers in India. And Preetham is not the only one. There are quite a few bikers like him, and many are waiting for racetracks to develop.
And yeah, since MotoGp following has increased in recent times, the Govt should understand that this is a sector which hasn’t been milked yet! MotoGP has huge potential in India. Creating more racetracks, setting up training schools, is the first step. Then, getting a world class track developed to host MotoGP will be another very important step. It would create many jobs, boost the motorcycle apparel sector, bring in foreign exchange, promote tourism(For eg: See how Singapore uses the night GP as a tool to attract thousands of tourists!) and put India on the map for many racing majors. Yamaha India and Honda India have started organising racing events for riders, but again, it’s the lack of race tracks that is a big hurdle. The ball has been in slow motion for quite sometime now. It’s high time the Govt gave it a major push!!
India, a country of billions and with immense latent sporting talents, but where unfortunately only Cricket is encouraged, other sports also need to be actively promoted. I may have talked about biking here but the point also stands true for many other sports. It is time for some serious action now and let people display their talents. Till then, I urge the biking fans to adhere from street and unsafe racing.
[Image courtesy: http://ngepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/motogp-catalonia-catalunya-barcelona-catalan-spain.jpg]