Tribute from the land of gods | The Nazir Hoosein Memorial Drive
The Nazir Hoosein Memorial Drive is a non competitive event which is a tribute to the late Nazir Hoosein. Hoosein was a racing driver and a motorsport administrator who put India firmly on the map of international motorsports. This drive through the 1981 Himalayan Rally Route will give the participants a taste of what rallying felt like back in the day and how Hoosein was able to envision this rally in a time when very little was known about the world of Motorsport by the Indians. The drive is scheduled to start on November 8 at Lansdowne, Uttarakhand and go all the way till November 11, finishing at Manali, Himachal Pradesh.
Nazir Hoosein is remembered as one of the most influential and iconic characters in the Indian motorsport world. He was the President of the Motorsports Association of India, Vice President of the FIA for Sport, chief steward of the World Rally Championship and a member of the World Motor Sport Council. In addition to starting the Himalayan Rally, he also organised the Great Desert-Himalaya Rally in 1988, which ran from the Thar Desert of Rajasthan through the Shivalik hills, Himachal and Ladakh. The event ended in Srinagar.
The Himalayan Rally was a 4000km goliath route that offered some of the world’s most challenging roads while travelling through some of the world’s highest mountains at heights of 10,000ft. Hoosein’s idea with the rally was to bring India on the map of the global motorsport world and he did. The first edition received a record 30 foreign entries amongst a total of 90 entries and since then, the Himalayan has seen cars and drivers from all parts of the world.
The Himalayan Rally ran from 1980 to 1991, hosting 11 races. Six-time winner, Col. SS Sekhon confirmed his participation in the drive and said "I took part in the rally in a Jonga, and the vehicle had a tendency to heat up," ."We would improvise and hang chaggals (water bags made of tarpaulin and cloth) on the bumpers, and they would seep the water slowly, just enough to regulate temperature.”, he added.
The memorial drive will follow the original route from the 1981 edition, with 100 cars kicking off from Greater Noida on the morning of November 8. The first stop will be Lansdowne, followed by Mussoorie and Kufri. On November 11, drivers will tackle the iconic route of the original rally, also known as the Jalori Pass before halting in Manali. The final day will see participants cross over the Rohtang pass before concluding the drive in Manali.
Hoosein always had the plan to make the Himalayan Rally a World Rally Championship (WRC) event and even though the later editions were part of the Asia Pacific Rally championship, the hostile political environment around did not allow his plan to work through. But the rally did give rise to stars like Farad Bhathena, who is now the founder of racing team FB Motorsports and also four-time Himalaya Rally winner Jayant Shah, who is going to participate in the memorial drive.
Nazir Hoosein passed away on May 12, 2019, after a prolonged fight with illness. But, his work laid the foundation of motorsport in India and his legacy will always be carried in the hearts and minds of every Indian motorsport athlete out there. And this memorial drive is the perfect way of remembering the icon and also allows the participants to feel what he imagined to make a WRC India circuit.