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The Madras Motor Race could soon host night races. If all goes according to plan, Indian motorsport will soon see a new dimension by hosting night races. This will definitely increase public viewership and interest in motorsport.
Motorsport in India has had a very raw and rugged history. From the exciting days of hosting races at sholavaram, and various other rallies across India, we have come to the present day when India has three modern tracks which includes one FIA Grade-1 track.
It has taken the Indian motorsport fraternity decades to bring it to this day and age wherein every race is broadcasted live on Facebook and camera monitor every corner of the three racetracks.
However, things have worsened in terms of the crowds turning up at the racetrack on a race weekend. The raw and unadulterated races like the Nandi Hill Climb, Sholavaram Grand Prix, Himalayan Rally, etc were hosted at a time when having a television at home was a luxury.
Just looking at the pictures of the crowds turning up at the track on race day is enough to bring goosebumps. The festive atmosphere of racing is what is missing in today's motorsport culture.
The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) and Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) have come together to take a decision to being this festive atmosphere back to the racetracks. Night races are expected to bring the crowds back and add another dimension to motorsport in India.
The idea is to have the stars and moon in the sky, engines screaming away close to redline in every gear on the track, music in the paddock area and food and beverage stalls in the surroundings of the track.
This atmosphere is sure to attract more attention. The first testing session will be held on 6th & 7th August, 2019. Over 40 racecars including saloons and single-seater Formula cars will be invited to run in the test session.
The test session is expected to take place between 7pm and 11pm and will be lit up by 35 temporary light masts. The test session will see the temporary light masts being placed at different points on the 3.71 kilometre-long circuit, just around 1-3 metres away from the tarmac.
Since safety regulations state that such solid objects should be placed outside the barriers on the track, the cars in the test sessions will not be allowed to go flat out. The session will only be held to gauge the visibility.
Vicky Chandhok, MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Car Racing Championship Chairman and Vice President of the MMSC said, "At the moment it's only temporary because these could be close to the track as well. We have to have all the lighting pillars behind the barriers. At the moment for the 7th evening they will not be behind the barriers."
"This is purely for testing. We are moving them between 1-3 metres away from the edge of the track. We are just going to see what is the power of the lights itself, whether it's adequate enough for visual, mainly for officials. And if that's enough, then we will go cantilever and get a proper structure done."
Once the visibility levels are satisfactory, the officials will give the green signal for a full-fledged race. He went on to say, "Hosting of night races will certainly open the track to more races, increased availability and more events throughout the year. It also brings some novelty to the track regulars that know the 3.71 kilometre track by their muscle memory. It will also create a party-like atmosphere."
The model of the night races that the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) will be hosting is unlike the Formula One races at the Singapore GP or the Bahrain GP where the entire track is lit up by floodlights.
MMRT will be following the Endurance race model wherein the track is lit up just enough to help the race stewards, marshals and officials in monitoring and mounting a rescue op in case of a crash. This means, the cars in the race will need to have their own headlamps, Le Mans style!
Thoughts On Night Races To Be Held At Madras Motor Race Track
The Madras Motor Race Track has seen most of India's motorsport action. It also recently played host to one round of the Indian National Rally Championship on a dirt track in the vicinity of the tarmac circuit.
There are also rumours that the track will soon be capable of handling supermoto and rallycross. Now with the move to include night races, the MMRT will soon become India's only full-fledged motorsports park.