Thursday night saw a gaggle of excited journalists descend on Sriperumbudur. High on the rush that was yet to come, we found ourselves chattering continuously. Perhaps, it was nervousness? Naah….
Friday saw us much quieter as we boarded the bus that would take us to the MMRT. Definitely the nerves, our courage and bravado washed away in the bright light of day. Fears quickly turned to curiosity and then back to the old desire to ride on the racetrack once Ramji, popularly known as Coach, started off on our lessons for the day. New (and much-needed) regulations by FMSCI state that a rider cannot participate in any competitive event unless he or she has undergone proper race training.
Classroom sessions were followed by on-track sessions, followed by feedback and then repeat for the next drill. A full and exhausting day of training saw us learn about signals and flags used in racing, body positioning, track etiquette, and so on. Free practice on Saturday saw many of us having fun around the MMRT. Qualifying turned out to be more serious as we tried to set the best lap-time to help us secure a favourable position on the starting grid. And then, on Sunday, as the five red lights went out in unison, we all took off. What followed was four laps of pure adrenaline with the whole experience being relived in the second race.
Now one might argue that eight laps of racing is hardly anything to go by. But believe you me, I have never felt such exhilaration on two wheels before as I did during those eight laps. It’s a head rush unlike any other. Make no mistake, it’s exhausting and it’s dangerous (and we did have a couple of crashes) but the thrill of getting to the chequered flag ahead of another competitor is unmatched. The experience also brings with it fresh understanding and respect. Understanding, because you suddenly realise that being a racer takes a lot more than just being able to twist the right wrist. Respect, because everyone on the racing grid, even tail-end Charlie, has committed himself or herself to an incredibly difficult and dangerous life. All for the sake of passion.