The first ever evo India meet-up!
I doubt there are greater joys for enthu-cutlets than drowning in the tortuous shrieks and luscious aroma of disintegrating rubber. Not only does it place you bang in the midst of insane hoonery, but you’re also going to witness some hot cars being pushed to their absolute limits. It’s of course a big part of why I am here, interning at evo India. Riding shotgun on tests of fast cars, being involved in shoots of gorgeous machines, spending every waking hour talking cars, bikes and motorsport ― it was the dream and I’ve been living it for the past four months. But even by those standards, this is something special. It starts with a nasty 3am wake up call to hit the road at 4am, but what follows is sunrise at the Raymond Drift Track in Thane followed by an entire day savouring the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S and AMG A 35 being driven at and well over their limits. And it’s not just me taking it all in.
Photographer Abhishek had this idea during our regular editorial brainstorming sessions. So many enthusiasts ping us on social media asking to be part of our shoots, so why aren’t we doing anything about it, asked Abhishek. The editors thought about it for a minute, looked at each other, and face-palmed themselves. Something about missing the woods for the trees was said, and then things went into high gear. We had the Chennai track booked in the first week of June and the first meet-up was pencilled in for that. And then Sirish remembered he had two sets of tyres to destroy on the AMG A 45 S. “Let some more enthu-cutlets experience the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” he said. “Please let me be part of this shoot,” I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Which is how I find myself quaffing a can of Monster Energy along with 100 enthusiasts ― not that we need energy drinks because the energy levels are through the roof. The Ed has commandeered the AMG A 45 S while Asst Ed Aatish is behind the wheel of the AMG A 35. And they’re giving taxi rides. Hard launch control enabled starts, hard braking, crazy gs in the 35 and wild oversteer in the 45 through a set of corners, and a taste of the immense dynamic abilities of the AMG twins.
The cameras were rolling, the holy congregation jumped up I on Monster, awaiting their next darshan in the fastest hatchback the world has ever seen. But what struck me the most was the diversity of car enthusiasts in our midst. Among them, one of the finest indicators of how much of an emotional attachment we humans form with our cars was Ameya, a boy of barely 12 who rode all the way from his home on his bicycle, just to experience the ride of a lifetime. His plain enthusiasm was visible from a kilometre away, and I took it upon myself to make sure he was in one of the first batches before the tyres got utterly destroyed. The smile as he got out of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S will forever be etched in my mind. True to the form of a rabid car enthusiast, the only question he could form after settling down was, “Bhaiya, when can I go again?!” There are two ways to a petrolhead’s heart. The first is driving their dream car. The second is experiencing the absolute limits to which it can be pushed. The first evo India meet up not only gave our readers that experience but also gave us the privilege of meeting like-minded lovers of all things pistons, motors and everything in between. On a side note, a month ago I got my first byline in this magazine and it was an event at home. My uncle ordered that copy and I had the privilege of packing it myself, slipping in an evo sticker that all subscribers get. But I had no idea how many people those words reach out to or the impact they have, save for the validation from my family and friends. At the evo India meet-up, I got my first experience of the impact this magazine, as well as our content on social and digital media, has had on the Indian enthusiast scene. A few months into my internship and I came across people who knew me by my byline. Talk about an out-of-body experience.
As part of the team I couldn’t take part in the contests where we gave out evo India and Monster Energy merchandise, but I was treated to something even more special. The team were filming the How To Drift tutorial from the early rays of sunshine until the meet-up kicked off after lunch. Being the generous man he is, the Ed agreed to take me for a spin on one loop, as our outrageously talented video and photo team got some shots of him drifting. I had no experience of being in a fast car before, let alone one being drifted by a certified nut. First, he put in what I felt was a cheat code, to get the car into drift mode. “Press the brake, then this button, then go into this menu, and then this…” Drift mode engaged. “Get to the drifting!”, I said to myself, perhaps a little prematurely. And the man went nuts. The video team had given me a GoPro for some reason, the fallacy of which was soon evident as I was flung around in my seat, laughing maniacally at the direction the car was supposed to go but wasn’t, and the Ed laughing at me. That GoPro footage will (hopefully) never see the light of day but that day will never leave my mind. And I’m sure the same holds true for our readers who experienced the same thing later in the afternoon, complete with shaky, blurry, unusable mobile phone footage peppered with screams and hoots of delight. Once our stomachs settled we talked cars, shot more pictures and videos, debated Formula 1 driver and team form, and most of all enthusiasts such as Ameya reminded us why and how we came to love these machines the way we do. Maybe that’s the greatest joy for us enthu-cutlets!