DARSHAN CHOKHANI | 7 FEBRUARY, 2018
Madras Motor Race Track Dresses Up for Asian-Level Races
Major improvements in infrastructure
The Madras Motor Sports Club unveiled its flashy new pit complex with permanent 20 pit garages, spectator viewing areas on the terrace and VIP hospitality suites on the Eastern side of the 3.74km Madras Motor Race Track in Irungattukottai, near Sriperumbudur in Chennai.
The VIP suites can host up to 400 guests, while the spacious garages will allow teams to work on their cars and bikes at ease. In addition, a new paddock building with its own short circuit has also been built on the Western side to allow two events to run simultaneously – more for testing purposes.
The upgrades come after the MMSC built its own drag strip on the main straight last year, along with installing a state-of-the-art hardware in its control room. In development stage is a permanent rally track of 7.5km with the idea of opening up an academy with three-time APRC champion Gaurav Gill.
The massive development of the FIA Grade 2 circuit, which includes part resurfacing of the circuit and widening of the run-off areas has a cost bearing of Rs. 20 crore on MMSC, which the club’s Vice President Vicky Chandhok says hasn’t been borrowed, but a careful expenditure of the profits.
“It has been a long journey for MMSC from its humble beginnings 66 years ago,” said MMSC President Ajit Thomas. “Even after we moved our racing activities from Sholavaram to the new track near Sriperumbudur, we constantly strove to improve, not just in terms of conducting events, but also upgrading facilities over a period of time.
“In 2014, the track received FIA Grade-2 certification, but in keeping with our philosophy of ever onward, we decided to refurbish and upgrade the existing facilities at considerable expense. The new paddock and facilities will allow us to host not just racing events but also create a venue that auto manufacturers, sponsors and agencies would be proud to use for.”
The inauguration event was coupled with a felicitation programme of Indu Chandhok, one of the founder-members of MMSC and the Trust. “It was due to the largesse of the late Chief Minister Dr MGR, who was a regular visitor to the Sholavaram races, that the MMRT project was made possible.
“The Sholavaram track belonged to the Army and the Navy who wouldn’t allow any upgrading nor resurface the surface which was being used for testing tanks. I approached the CM informally who immediately granted permission to the MMSC to buy the land after first offering it free which the club declined,” recalled Chandhok.
Project in charge Gopal Madhavan was also greeted, while the event was also graced by the current Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India President Akbar Ebrahim. Meanwhile, with the circuit upgrade nearing its completion, focus now shifts to bringing in more international races.
For now, the owners are targeting relevant Asian-level races, with the likes of TCR Asia in the forefront. The circuit already hosts the winter-based MRF Challenge F2000 races, along with the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship’s Indian round.
In addition, Vicky Chandhok says the circuit is looking to cash-in on the growing Asian championships which will be more interested in running their rounds in India. An endurance-type event is also in the reckoning with the idea of night racing being checked upon.