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Old 12th March 2013, 10:41   #1
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Default My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Hello everyone,

Before I launch into a detailed narrative about my experience, let me give you a brief background of our company. We were contracted by MRF to provide the tyre changing and wheel balancing services for the MMST round of the MRF Challenge 2013. The event was scheduled to start on 8th February 2013 and end on 10th February 2013.

This round had 2 main categories.

The Formula Fords which were using a custom chassis built by J A Motorsport(A company into modifications and motorsports. They have tied up with MRF for the racing series) and a Ford 1600cc engine. The drivers were all Indian. My understanding is that this is one of the first steps into getting into motorsports. You can get some sponsors and buy a drive in this series.

The Formula 2000 had a Dallara Chassis with a Renault Sport 2 litre engine. The driver list was varied. There were a couple of Indians but most of the drivers were from European countries. There were also a couple of Japanese drivers and 3 female drivers. One of the star attractions on the grid was Josh Hill who is the son of Damon Hill and grandson of Graham Hill.

All the cars were using OZ ultra light rims. Superb quality and it was a joy to just hold them. Many of these rims were damaged and scratched due to various battles on the track.

The tyres were all special custom compounds made by MRF. I dont know much details about the tyre compounds and even if I did, I wouldnt be allowed to reveal it! All the tyres looked the same but I wouldnt be surprised if the compound given to the FF was different from the ones given to the F2000s.


There were also 2 more categories for the "common" man. The ITC and IJTC categories. These categories are basically your Indian cars dominated by Esteems. There were also a couple of zens and OHC Vtecs in these categories.

ITC is Indian Touring Cars and the cars in this category were completely unrestricted. They all had to be NA but apart from that I dont think there were any limits to the mods that could be done.

IJTC is Indian Junior Touring Cars. The mods were limited to headers and exhaust (I think).

The ITC category had stalwarts like Mr. Leelakrishnan and Arjun Balu.

Mr. Jagat Nanjappa was also there but I was not able to figure out if he was with the ITC or IJTC category.

My job was simple. Change 450+ tyres and balance them. The job would have been easy if the tyres were the usual road tyres.

The specially constructed racing tyres have a relatively soft sidewall but a very hard bead. This hard bead makes sure the tyre doesnt get ripped off the rim during extremely hard cornering. These are Formula cars. They corner flat and at insane speeds.

The tyres are extremely wide. The tyre sizes were identical for the FF and the F2000s. 200/540-13 for the fronts and 240/570-13 for the rears. And we had to keep in mind that no rim or tyre should be damaged at all. The key was experienced technicians and a generous amount of tyre mounting paste.

We report to the MMST on Monday morning. 4th February 2013. We've sent our technicians from Bangalore in a bus the previous night and they report to the track around 10:00 am. My colleague and I are driving down from B'lore that morning and we reach by lunch time. Our local team from Madras have already unloaded the equipment from the truck.

We start installing the equipment and find the power supply to be inadequate. While the guys running MMST figure out how to solve the problem, we head to Muscat Bakery for a quick bite.

We get everything setup by about 3:30 pm and request MRF to give us some tyres and rims so we can start our job and get the hang of it.

We have 3 technicians from our tyre shops who are experts at tyre changing and wheel balancing but have never handled a job of this magnitude before.

And there is me. A "well-rounded" individual who can give lectures for hours on how to change tyres and balance them. Ask me to actually do it and I'm a fish out of the water.

My senior colleague is here only for the first day to help us set up things. The local Madras team also have other things to do so it will be mainly me and the 3 boys. We also have one person from the local Madras team. I figure I will be mainly supervising things and 4 guys should be enough to do the work. Two of them on the 2 tyre changers and two of them on the two wheel balancers.

Turns out I was dead wrong.


Tuesday 5th February 2013:


Tuesday morning dawns and I head to the track. My 3 technicians are already there. MRF has delivered a huge number of wheels and tyres to our stall during the night and now it's our turn to start fitting it. We start of slowly but steadily. I can see that the workload is too much for just 3 of them. Even though I'm scared of damaging a tyre, I get my hands dirty. I have changed tyres before but I havent done it for more than 5 years. Soon I realise that I'm a little rusty but otherwise I'm not too bad!

We get into a rhythm. One of the boys and me are changing tyres continuously and the other 2 boys are balancing the tyres. We need to take care that the tyres are matched properly. The tyres are directional tyres even though they are slicks. So, every set has to have 4 tyres, all corresponding to the correct direction.

This is a pic taken that day after having changed around 60 tyres.

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1428.jpg

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At the end of the day I realise that the workload is too much. We have changed just about 60 tyres today and it is already Tuesday. By Thursday, 1 set of tyres has to be given to all the teams. That is a total of 25 sets of tyres along with about 16 sets of testing tyres. It is physically impossible to work harder. We probably will work faster once we get more familiar with the tyres.

I request for one more boy to be sent from Bangalore.


Wednesday 6th Feb 2013.


Wednesday morning comes around and I realise that the Red Rooster team is staying at the same resort as I am. Seeing the entire team there at breakfast sends a thrill through me. The excitement of a race weekend starts to build.

As I drive to the track, I'm a little worried. There is a huge amount of work to be done. We will easily meet the deadline of Thursday, but by Friday, we will have to give another 50 sets of tyres as that is the deadline for MRF to hand over 3 sets of tyres to each team according to the racing regulations. It is looking like a herculean task. The entire responsibility lies with me. If we miss their deadline, there will be hell to pay.

Also, on Tuesday we had it a little easy as out of the 60 odd tyres we installed, more than half of the rims came bare. Without any old tyres installed on them. Today, we see that all the rims being delivered to us have old tyres used by the teams during the previous rounds installed on them. So, now, we have to first open the wheels and tyres and then install the fresh new tyres.

We start working like Egyptian slaves working on the pyramids and by afternoon, we have delivered on our first commitment of a total of 40 sets of tyres. We get started on the remaining 50 sets.

The heat is also starting to take a toll on us. We are perspiring heavily and our clothes are soaked. It isnt as hot as it can get but the stall we are in is covered by a shamiana trapping the heat. The humidity is only making things worse.

Thankfully for us, MRF has allowed us to have as many cool drinks and beverages like tea, coffee and water from the pit. At the pit, there is a fridge which is continuously replenished with cool drinks. The drivers are strolling around and doing nothing! The testing starts tomorrow I believe.

By the time we leave the track, we are exhausted. I have become almost as adept as my boys at changing a tyre and they are completely surprised. Initially when I started changing the tyres, my boys were trying to stop me. Then they also realised the amount of work that had to be done and decided to leave me alone and focus on their jobs. Today alone, we would have changed 72 tyres and balanced them. This means we have to more than 200 tyres in the next one and a half days. Our deadline is 2:00 pm on Friday. We would have to give a total of 75 sets and 16 sets of testing tyres by that time.

Thursday 7th Feb 2013:

I woke up in the morning feeling like hell. The heat, humidity and physical stress had given me a mild fever. I couldnt even force breakfast into my body. Unfortunately, I didnt have an option to relax so I headed to the track.

We had a mountain to climb today. My boys also realised that today would be crucial. If we changed a good number of tyres today, we would be able to meet our deadline tomorrow. I was hoping and praying we didnt have any power problems as that would have slowed down our work drastically.

From the get go, there was hardly any talk and we worked like workers on the factory floor. I think the reason I was able to continue working today was because the cars started testing today. Right from 9:30, the Formula cars started to go out onto the track. Even though I was very busy and I couldnt take time out to go and have a look, just the sound of the engines revving gave me goosebumps. As any petrolhead will know, the sound of a good engine is the best medicine. Just listening to the noises all around me was one of the most amazing experiences in my life.

At the end of the day we had changed more than 150 tyres.

Friday 8th February 2013:


Today we were all looking forward to finishing our job and relaxing a bit. We went early to the track and made sure we were at least an hour ahead of our deadlines. MRF wanted some tyres by 11:00, we delivered them by 9:30. They wanted the last batch of tyres by 3:00 pm, we delivered them by 2:00 pm.

After this, we had lunch and then just relaxed. It was then that I decided to walk around the pits and the grid and take a look at all that was happening.

Practice sessions were going on and the sounds were just insane. Irrespective of where I was standing, I could hear a cacophony of engines. If it wasnt the F2000s, it was the FFs. If not the FFs, it was the ITC and IJTC cars.

It was one of the most incredible experiences ever! I cant even imagine how the pit crew during F1 races feel!




Saturday 9th Feb 2013


Pure racing today! I was enjoying the view from some of the most in-demand areas. I had an all-access pass and no one stopped me anywhere!






Sunday 10th Feb 2013


More racing today. There was quite a good crowd as well and this added a carnival atmosphere to the whole event.

Today, I decided to push my luck and stand right next to the grid!

The sound of the cars revving before taking was unbearable but beautiful! It physically hurts the ears! 10-15 cars at full throttle from a standing start has to be seen/heard to be believed! Now I understand why the F1 crew wear headphones or some sort of protection for their ears. If these "puny" 1.6 and 2.0 litre engines sound like this, I tremble with excitement imagining the noise at that time!

Some videos I took have been uploaded on youtube. They dont convey even 50% of the noise that you experience standing that close to the starting grid.

There was a big crash involving an Indian driver, Parth Ghorpade.












Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 3rd July 2013 at 15:45.
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Old 3rd July 2013, 16:20   #2
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Some pics I took On Friday, Saturday and Sunday.





The ITC/IJTC cars getting prepped.*

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1687.jpg



Some random pics of the race cars going about their business.

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My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1566.jpg

Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 3rd July 2013 at 16:22.
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Old 3rd July 2013, 16:24   #3
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

A huge pile of old and used tyres that was left after we installed new tyres.

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1690.jpg



A car that had to be brought into the pits due to some technical glitch.

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Random pictures of the cars and races.


My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1695.jpg

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 12th July 2013 at 23:51.
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Old 12th July 2013, 23:58   #4
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

More pictures.


My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_1999.jpg

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2001.jpg

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My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2075.jpg





The ITc/IJTC category cars. They raced together but after a lap the difference between the ITC and the IJTC cars were evident.


My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2095.jpg



The big guys of the weekend. The Formula 2000s. Renault Sport Engines with Dallara Chassis.

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2126.jpg

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2129.jpg

Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 13th July 2013 at 00:00.
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Old 13th July 2013, 00:32   #5
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2139.jpg







There was a big crash where Parth Ghorpade's car turned turtle.

The race was red flagged after hardly a lap or so and you can see all the mechanics running back to the starting grid. The excitement and tension was palpable! It was exactly how you see it on TV!

In one pic you can even see the ambulance driving down the pit lane on it's way to the driver.

As it turns out, he was fine but he was out of the rest of the weekend (which was the afternoon race).

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2180.jpg

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My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2186.jpg

After this, the race was getting interesting. As it normally happens at Live races where you are not familiar with the drivers, I didnt really know who was leading or who was at what position but the racing did seem exciting.

There was some close racing happening in the following shots. I got lucky to capture an "incident".

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2222.jpg


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My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2232.jpg
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Old 13th July 2013, 07:37   #6
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

More pics of the wrecked F2000 car.

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2186-2.jpg

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More wheel to wheel racing.

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Formula Fords lined up on the start line.


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All the remains at the end of the racing weekend.

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My boys were thrilled to be at the track and witness all the racing.

My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013-img_2532.jpg

Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 13th July 2013 at 07:51.
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Old 16th July 2013, 21:19   #7
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Motorsport Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th July 2013, 08:58   #8
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Can you please tell us where was this held?

What were the results?

I am very keen to know how did the blue hondas (I guess they are Joel's) perform.

Big fan of them
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Old 18th July 2013, 12:00   #9
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This was at MMST. The Blue Hondas didnt do too well. The ITC category was dominated by Arjun Balu and Leelakrishnan.
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Old 18th July 2013, 14:09   #10
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

great report and pics man, give me a call next time if you need help

Is there anyway we can have a go in those cars ?
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Old 18th July 2013, 16:31   #11
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Is there any provision for us to rent these cars for a few laps or for any race?
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Old 20th July 2013, 19:59   #12
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulkool View Post
great report and pics man, give me a call next time if you need help

Is there anyway we can have a go in those cars ?
We always need help! We will be there next week. Want to learn how to change tyres? Give me a call!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hiran77 View Post
Is there any provision for us to rent these cars for a few laps or for any race?
You cant rent these cars. You can however buy a seat in the LGB Rolon category for a certain amount.
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Old 22nd July 2013, 11:19   #13
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Default Re: My Experience behind the scenes at the MRF Challenge 2013

Wow! Looks like you had some great time. I always wanted to have a go in open wheelers, wish they had it for rent here at BIC :(

Thansk for sharing the pics and videos mate, much appreciated.
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