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Old 6th July 2007, 09:05   #1
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Default Himalayan Rallying Experiences - A Flashback

OK guys, I did some typing last night at home, so I am copying and pasting here now (this is company time, you know) !

Many of you wanted to know about the Himalayan Rally, so here goes. Today, I am giving brief introductions about the first 3 events. Tell me how you like them. I will give information about all the subsequent events soon.

Just to whet your appetite further - the second London Sydney Rally came to Mumbai on 24 August 1977 and left Mumbai on 25 August 1977. I was in VJTI. I will tell you something about Mumbai on those 2 days. Hold on !

The first Himalayan Rally was held in 1980 (28th October 1980 start). The last rally was held in 1990.

1980:
The first rally was flagged off from Mumbai. The total distance as per the road book was 5333.3 kms. to be covered in around 7 days. The route was Mumbai to Aurangabad to Agra to Chandigarh to Delhi. There were cars from Kenya besides other countries. Gujarati guys from Kenya (Shekhar Mehta in an Opel Ascona / Ramesh Khoda) and the "Flying Sikh" (Joginder Singh in a Mercedes 450 SLC) were there. There was an old Jeep Station Wagon as well. A Morris Minor belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury, flown down from England was also there. I was a spectator.

1981:
The rally started from the race course in Mumbai. Ramesh Khoda in a Datsun 160J was the favourite. The first transport sector was Mumbai to Delhi (1475 kms). A particular mention. Car no 2 was my teacher Mr.Adi Malgham's brown coloured Volvo, with co-driver my very good friend Sunil Shanbag. They reached Delhi first and had to remove the transmission there to replace the flywheel bush. I was a spectator at the race course because I could not get leave.

1982:
This was the first time that the rally started from Delhi. I was very lucky. I was a team member in one of the DCOC's cars. There were 5 DCOCs (Deputy clerk of the course). The DCOCs were Justice Sam Variava, Homi Commisariat, Jagdish Thackersey, Aspi Dalal, Ravi Jalan and Vasant Patki. 5 FIATS (MMD6300 - Vasant / MRC7979 - Aspi / MMB141 - Homi / MRJ9863 - Jagdish / Justice Sam Variava was in MMF4478, a CL500D Mahindra vehicle with one of the first Peugeot XDP4.90 engines). The FIATS were painted in yellow colour with "Charminar Challenge" logos on them. This was done in Mr.Nazir Hoosein's garage behind Liberty cinema in Mumbai. I travelled from Mumbai to Delhi, did the complete backup and came back to Mumbai in MMD6300, prepared by Sunil Shanbag. We had a ham operator in our car. Our call sign was VU9HRYmobile5 (India is VU2 but for some reason we had VU9). This car was equipped with a twin carburettor setup and I remember that we used to set the mixture strength by putting a tapered air restrictor on top of the carburettor cover. The car gave us absolutely no problem at all. During our return trip it rained continuously from Udaipur to Mumbai. We had to hold an umbrella over the filler port to fill petrol. We were also told at one of the Dhabas that there was a bhoot on this road and we should not venture further. I can still hear the music of Jayant Shah's Nissan 240RS. We would be standing at a control and we would all keep quiet so that we could make out the gearchanges, hear the melody and see bright lights snaking through the wintry sky in the middle of the night before the car would hurtle down on us at the control (it would take around 15 minutes from the time we heard it to the time it came to the control). Believe me guys - none of your so-called "SUBS" or whatever can ever match that music.

How did you like that ? Let me know. There's much more to come. THAT'S MOTORSPORTS !

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 6th July 2007, 10:53   #2
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Ahhh... the good old days!! Feels great to read such fantastic rememberances!

Now maybe we should put your himalayan experiences into a seperate thread, mods please?
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Old 6th July 2007, 14:53   #3
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Quote:
I can still hear the music of Jayant Shah's Nissan 240RS.
Quote:
(it would take around 15 minutes from the time we heard it to the time it came to the control).
Mind-boggling! I didnt even know what a 240RS was....and then google showed me. A road-rally car must have been an absolute beast....was there anything than ran close to it on the run?

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Believe me guys - none of your so-called "SUBS" or whatever can ever match that music.
ROTFLMAO!
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Old 6th July 2007, 15:14   #4
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Mind-boggling! I didnt even know what a 240RS was....and then google showed me. A road-rally car must have been an absolute beast....was there anything than ran close to it on the run?



ROTFLMAO!
In 1984, it was Rajeev Khanna's Opel Manta-400. It was Too fast and strong. Those were different days!!
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Old 7th July 2007, 08:45   #5
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Originally Posted by iraghava View Post
Now maybe we should put your himalayan experiences into a seperate thread, mods please?
& Done.

Mr Dhabhar, let me know if you can think of a more apt title than the one i have currently given this thread.

cya
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Old 7th July 2007, 10:05   #6
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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
. We would be standing at a control and we would all keep quiet so that we could make out the gearchanges, hear the melody and see bright lights snaking through the wintry sky in the middle of the night before the car would hurtle down on us at the control (it would take around 15 minutes from the time we heard it to the time it came to the control). Believe me guys - none of your so-called "SUBS" or whatever can ever match that music.

How did you like that ? Let me know. There's much more to come. THAT'S MOTORSPORTS !

Behram Dhabhar
15 Minutes from the time you heard it to the time it came to the control. WOW Loved it.. I dont think any car can match that now..

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Old 7th July 2007, 11:49   #7
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DHABHAR.BEHRAM , Good to see a thread started about the good ol days of RAllying . The Himalayan Rally was what got me addicted to Rallying -- I was 11 yrs old and was a marshal at 2 check points in the 86 edition . Our job was to take the time book , get it to the table for the time to be filled in and then returned to the navigator .

We all had heard of Rajeev Khaana and Jayant Shah -- we belonged to the Khannu ( as he was nicked ) fan club . We didnt know the difference between and Opel Manta and a Nissan 240RS but we knew that they drove fast . The first time I experienced a Rally car was when we were stationed at the TC at Solan ( outside Mohan Meakin Brewery ) and the rally was running late by a few hours which was very common then . It was about 12 at night and we had been waiting for a couple of hours getting very edgy but frustrated as they just wudn't come ..... and then we heard this RUMBLE - we kept our eyes focussed on a turn which was about 3 kms from us to catch the lights but alas NOTHING . The rumble continued and continued and then SUDDENLY we see daylight , those extra lights literally turned the night into broad day light . The car comes in -- take the book with shaking hands at the sight of ' A RALLY CAR ' - get it to the table with my eyes still on the car , and hand it back .

But that was nothing compared to what happened with car No 4 and Car no 5 when they came in ...... 5-7 minutes before we saw them 2 , we realised that the RUMBLE had turned into a MAHA RUMBLE -- we cudn't figure out why , then the turn light up brighter than it had with the earlier cars and we still cidn't figure out why . Now , the place where we were located .. was about 200 mtrs after a sharp right hander ( broad road ) .. !! Then we sudden;y realised that there were 2 cars side by side at full clip .... my first real view of a drift has to be that -- 2 cars screaming their lungs out , lights blazing , and going sideways as if they were doing synchronised driving . I still get goose bumps thinking about that scene . I remember names like Roothart , Dunkerton, and then there was a Belgian couple also ( they rolled down within 5 kms after leaving our TC ) !!

We never got to see our Khannu , as usual he had overdone it and DNF'd !!! After Solan we headed of to Chail to man the TC just before they relaxed at the Royal Palace . I don't remember who it was ... but sudden;y we see this car screaming and coming down teh road in reverse gear -- FLAT OUT !! long straight .... sharp U turn into uphill .. 30 mtrs and TC !!! The guy had lost his forwrad gears and thus decided to do it in reverse ... MIND BLOWING it was .

It was a great experience watching them drive like mad people .... and as lil kids we were surely hooked onto Rallying . We headed back to scholl next day , we reached Solan town and then stopped for lunch and after lunch we were meant to get onto a local bus that would take us back to school . During lunch we had the teacher who had taken us come up and say that we didnt have to go by the bus as he had gotten us a lift in a Canter . We finished lunch , got out and saw a canter with the Himalayan rally stickers all over , service crew stickers , etc etc so we got excited all over again . So what if we didnt get a ride in a Rally Car , atleast we wud get in a Rall vehicle ..,

Some of us went up to the guy behind the wheel and said , can you pls drive fast like the rally guys -- he gave us this stern look that had us scurrying and we jumped into the back amongst tyres and lots of other pieces of iron which for us then meant niothing . He drove a lil fast till Dharampur but nothing too exciting and we all were busy laughing , talking about how we wud become rally drivers when we grew up and stuff .

After Dharampur the road turns into a super narrow stretch , a bus barely fits in there and its 6 kms uphill before we get to our school . Our teacher had been following us in his fiat .. he shouted out for us to hold tight -- we didnt understand till he suddenl;y overtook us and flat chatted the Fiat up the road , and before we knew it the Canter was also being flat chatted up teh road behind the Fiat - we had our arms entwined with each guy holding on for for dear life to teh side of the body and the driver went BALLISTIC . All our dreams of becoming rally drivers flew outta our systems , we didnt think we wud reach schiool -- some were screaming , some were praying and god knows what all !!! It was the most amazing rides of my life till then ..... we reached the school , took 5 mins to get our senses back to normal only to be told that the MAD MAX behind the wheel was none other than our HERO - Rajeev Khanna alias Khaanu . I still remember running up the hill to the dormitory to get a piece of paper and pen for an auttograph , didnt find any paper in teh hurry so grabbed a roll of toilet paper and ran back down to get his autograph -- yes, on the tissue paper roll ;-) !!!

That was 1986 .... now its 2007 , havn't become a Rally driver but do manage getting it sideways . Saw the likes of Shinozuka , Capt Chauhan , Hari Singh , Nikhil Taneja drive through those mountains at full clip and every time I saw them I would get goose bumps ..... !!!

Its a pity that we don't have Rally cars that sound anywhere close to the Rally cars of yester years , and ll those who havn't heard or seen them in action have really missed out on some pure orgasmic sounds .

damn .. I have goose bumps all over again .

Cheers

PS -- Sir, do you have pics to go along with your story telling ???
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Old 19th July 2007, 00:37   #8
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Wow, those names Opel Manta, Opel Ascona, FORD RS200, Mitsubishi Starion , Rajeev khanna. Himalayan Rally was the event that made we want to "drive". Although the first drive was on a W123, the first time, I got to drive with my Dad's approval, I couldn't resist the temptation of taking the Peugeot 504 sideways on the dirt roads (infact all roads in the nearby area were dirt roads). Juha Kankunnen was also also once in India isn't it. The first time I saw the telecast of a car being driven on three wheels and the co driver "balancing" it, told me these are special people. We have become so civilised now.
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Old 19th July 2007, 01:58   #9
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Khaadu, i have never seen a rally car in person till date, let alone see one going sideways, but in the middle of the night that narration has had me imagine what it must have been like. Great stuff there.

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Old 19th July 2007, 02:11   #10
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Originally Posted by khaadu75 View Post
I still remember running up the hill to the dormitory to get a piece of paper and pen for an auttograph , didnt find any paper in teh hurry so grabbed a roll of toilet paper and ran back down to get his autograph -- yes, on the tissue paper roll ;-) !!!
Hahahaha... great post Khaadu!

How did your teacher manage to organize that, it must have been such a great suprise.

cya
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Old 19th July 2007, 09:57   #11
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read abt the himalayan rallies a lot in "car and bike international" magazine. those were the days.. for todays generation there is the raid but yes, nothing replaces the feel of the himalayan rallies...
khaadu : marshal at 11yrs.. great! I really wish to see the raid upclose this yr.. i know u do it each yr though :P
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Old 19th July 2007, 11:41   #12
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Very nice read - had me thinking about the Fun all you guys had during the golden time - yes we definetely have the raid now but not close to the himalyan rallys of that time .
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Old 19th July 2007, 12:16   #13
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Great to see a separate section for the Himalayan Rally. Today, I am giving complete details of my involvement in the 1983 event.

This was the only event where I took part (our team was Sunil Shanbhag / myself / Farad Bhathena. Our car was a Mahindra CJ4A petrol engined vehicle without 4 wheel drive. We won the second national award. Our start number was 73. We finished 13th overall. 11 cars ahead of us were imported cars. 12th overall was a Premier Padmini driven by Rajiv Rai / Subhash Goel / Kiran Modi from Chennai. They won the first national award. 14th overall was also a Premier Padmini (MMG6527) driven by Ramesh Kundanmal / Kiran Sanghvi. They won the third prize. This car used to be parked at Kundanmal Service Station in Peddar Road in Mumbai all year round and was used only for the Himalayan Rally.

The rally was flagged off from the National Stadium on the 23rd of October 1983. The first car (Jayant Shah in a Nissan 240RS) was flagged off at 2.30 in the afternoon and then cars were flagged off at 2 minute intervals. As we were 73rd, we went at around 5 o'clock.

The route was divided into 4 legs, each leg consisting of 2 sectors. The first leg was Delhi / Dehradun / Nainital. The second leg was Nainital / Ranikhet / Mussoorie. The third leg was Mussoorie / Solan / Simla. The last leg was Simla / Manali / Delhi. The total distance was around 3500 kms to be covered in 5 days.

Leg 1 - the first transport sector (TC1 to TC2) was Delhi / Hapur / Ghaziabad / Moradabad / Kashipur / Ramnagar, 272.83 kms to be covered in around 5 hours. The competition started in earnest in Ramnagar. The route was through the frests and riverbeds in the foothills of the Himalayas - Ramnagar / Kehripur / Zero point / Kalaghar / Kotdwara etc. Driving through the night, we reached Dehradun at around 7 in the morning. In this one night, I can never in my life forget how I have driven and we were pleasently surprised to find ourselves in 12th overall spot (from 73 to 12 was not bad at all). We overtook umpteen number of Ambies / Padminis and also 12 (out of 13) army entered 6 cylinder 125 BHP Jongas. Our car was not fast but it was built to 100% reliability need. Just nothing happened to it. We would open the bonnet only to replenish windshield washer fluid. Our headlights were legendary - 2 nos CIBIE CONCAVES, 2 nos CIBIE BI OSCARS and 2 nos CIBIE SUPER OSCARS. In those days, the Halda navigation meter used to be mechanically operated through a set of delicate gears and we had to be very careful with it. After a 2 hour rest, we drove through the day to finish leg 1 in Nainital and parked the car in 12th spot in the ground next to the Nainital lake.

Leg 2 - The flagoff was at around 9 in the morning (they would test us for lack of sleep as well ? I wonder !). This took us high into the mountains. The cold outside was terrible and we were sweating inside the car. Getting out meant catching a chill. I was feeling miserable but carried on nevertheless. We reached Ranikhet at around 11 in the night and flagoff was at 0230 in freezing cold. I Ranikhet, we were provided with bunks to sleep for a couple of hours. Well, I remember me being allowed to go into "parc ferme' 10 minutes before our scheduled flagoff time and I could not feel the key in my hand, it was so terribly cold out there. We finally made it to Hotel Savoy in Mussoorie by late evening and just went to sleep. The worst was yet to come. We were still holding 12th overall.

Leg 3 - This took us to Barwala / Nahan / Rajgarh / Solan / Khandaghat / Dhalli / Guma and to a regroup at Narkhanda. It was so cold that although I am a complete teetotaler, I had to drink some 5 cc of rum to be able to walk straight, let alone drive. I have never drunk after that day till today but the Himalayan Rally broke by record that day. The best stretch of the entire rally was yet to come - the infamous Jalori Pass @ 12500 ft, an 8 kms continuous climb only in 1st gear. The Ambies and the Padminis would stall and people would push. How do you push when you can barely breathe ? The Jalori pass is a part of a 58 km stretch of "so-called road" between Luri and Banjar in HP. We finally reached Manali. There are a lot of stories of the Jalori Pass and the Himalayan Rally, including how Deepak Chopra (of Starline Motors Mumbai) made it through. This is all legendary.

Leg 4 - The original route was to go upto Khoksar (58 kms one way) but as the pass was snowbound, we went to a place called Marhi (13000 ft), ate excellent mutton masala and came back to Manali. From then onwards, it was to Marhi / Dhalli / Kufri / Shogi / Solan / Rajgarh / Harpiur Dhar and down the mountains to Sataun. I can never forget the last night. We had lost a conrod bearing along the way and had stuffed the engine with a mixture of SAE90EP oil and chassis grease pumped in at a roadside joint. We had to be careful as Ramesh Kundanmal was planning to catch us. The stretch from Solan to Sataun via Haripir Dhar and Andheri (yes, there is a village known as Andheri in HP), is 250 odd kms down the mountains where the road surface is loose shale and if you brake the car does not stop because the road goes down with it). Finally at 7 in the morning we reached Sataun, which was the end of the last competitive scetor. From there, it was smooth sailing on NH1 to a place known as Rai, just 50 kms outside Delhi, where everybody regrouped and then the last flagoff happened. We got a tremendous welcome, with crowds lining both sides of the road. Imagine cops waving us through, no signal lights to stand at. It was great. Finally we drove up the entire Rajpath to the National Stadium and finished 13th overall.

The prize distribution - the then minister of sports Mr.Buta singh was the chief guest. We recieved a trophy and Rs 15000 as prize money.

I KNOW THAT BY READING THE ABOVE, YOU WOULD HAVE RELIVED THE EXPERIENCE. I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAL TO ANYBODY READING THIS INFORMATION TO GENUINELY EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY OF REVIVING SUCH MAGIC, MAYBE FOR CLASSIC CARS ? THINK ABOUT IT.

I will give my experiences of the 1984 / 85 / 86 / 87 / 88 / 89 and 90 rallies next time, one year at a time. Bye for now.

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 19th July 2007, 13:42   #14
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Another super detailed post from you sir!

Its pretty amazing the level of detail you remember and choose to share with us!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
There are a lot of stories of the Jalori Pass and the Himalayan Rally, including how Deepak Chopra (of Starline Motors Mumbai) made it through. This is all legendary.
Can we possibly hear this story before you begin the narration of 1984 onwards?

cya
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Old 19th July 2007, 14:24   #15
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Behram, Hats off to you!!
You sure have the Logs with you? with the tulip charts!!
Deepak is still around and Im in touch, so is Pradeep Nair, my driver/co partner in the '84 Himalayan in my 1464 ![Vasant Rele and Shrikant Shah prepared]
and That Jalori pass, I'd Love to Visit with a bunch of himalayan participants. we too packed up there in '84. were 5th overall till before that!!
You remember the Flowers regularly showered on the Participants by children high up passing Himachal towns/villages!!!
In '85 did the complete route with the FIA Stewards/Observers.
You in touch with Farad?? or any of the old timers??
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