By Syed Asif Ali, TVS Racing
One of the earliest scooter races in the world can be traced back to the 1950s when Frenchman Georges Monneret successfully crossed the English Channel on an “amphibious Vespa” for the Paris-London race. In India, scooter racing is still at a nascent stage, an emerging trend that is growing steadily. It is a relatively unknown concept, because traditionally it has been perceived to be a mode of transport designed for a convenient ride, and not a sturdy machine for racing. However, today, leading scooter manufacturers are hosting and participating in scooter rallies to pique the interests of racing enthusiasts in the country.
Journey so far…
My tryst with racing began in early childhood with a simple bicycle. Having since explored the turf with motorbikes, I eventually took to scooter racing in 2013. To know scooter racing, a racer needs to match himself with the machine and master the art by developing new skills to do stunts such as pass on corners, take jumps, among others. TVS Motor Company spotted me at a local event and got me to come on board, seven years ago. Since then there has been no looking back and our racing journey continues to accelerate further. The fame that I acquired as a scooter racer keeps me motivated to perform better every time I am on the turf.
Given the novelty of scooter racing in India, it is important to elucidate the emerging concept, and understand what makes the new “racemobile” suitable for the racing field. It is exciting to see that in the last few years, manufacturers have taken steps to modify scooters to make them suitably tenacious for racing rallies. Any form of motorsport racing is challenging because it all depends on the technical built of the vehicle. For instance, the reflex action and the sitting mechanism varies in every vehicle and in scooters there is always a need to fine tune the engine and the CVT for a specific terrain. Furthermore, on off road events, vehicles must have good suspension for the stability and power. Scooters, however, have small suspension, which makes racing with it even more challenging.
Building a race scooter is one of the toughest tasks as many things must be considered in terms of its engine’s durability on the racing turf. In scooters, the engine is connected to the rear wheel, which makes it a bit unstable in terms of balance. The TVS racing team has applied key learnings from the race track to make formidable machines for their racers with upgradation of the engines, tyres, and suspensions.
With most two-wheeler companies taking a keen interest in manufacturing race scooters, the number of racing avenues have increased, as well. In recent times, several scooter racing rallies are being conducted around the year in India. From Dakshin Dare in the South to Raid-de-Himalaya in the North and the seasonal Special Monsoon Rally, scooter racers now have a chance to make their mark at some of the toughest rally events in the country.
What lies ahead…
Scooter racing is gaining momentum and popularity as a spectator sport in India by carving out its own niche in the racing circuit. Most importantly, racers are now showing interest and have started participating, owing to their curiosity of how scooters – a less demanding machine, can ride fast and win races. Risks are a part of a racer’s life and it is no different for scooter racers. In a way, mastering the art of scooter racing is a culmination of the type of scooter developed by the engineers and the racers’ skills. I have been able to take the scooter to the Himalayas during the Raid-de-Himalaya racing rally and rode smoothly on a difficult terrain.
Many two-wheeler companies are voluntarily contributing to this segment and will continue to do so, thus laying the foundation for creating a racing boom in the forthcoming years. An increasing number of scooter racing championships have grabbed the attention of young racing enthusiasts. This gives me confidence that the future of scooter racing is bright!