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Old 22nd February 2010, 18:50   #1
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Default Report & Pics: New Race Track outside Mumbai at Khopoli (AutoMission Rally School)

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Automission Motorsport, in partnership with the Bill Gwynne Rally School (UK), has come up with a race track and professional rally school in Maharashtra. Automission is looking to promote Indian Motorsport and safe driving in a big way. The school is located at Khopoli, which is just off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway & is spread over 26 acres of land property. The management intends to make it a one stop shop for everything to do with Motorsport. Some of the features of this new venture are:
  • Professional Rally courses for the budding racer and enthusiast.
  • Specially prepared FIA compliant rally cars to be used for the training.
  • International Rally Cross champion drivers as instructors to impart the training.
  • Special focus on Car Control.
  • A full fledged workshop (track side) equipped to tune and modify cars for performance, using only FIA approved parts and safety regulations.
  • Facility to park and store personal hi-performance cars at the track itself.
  • Autocross events - Racing against the clock.
Future plans of Automission include:
  • MotorCycle Riding School
  • Karting Track and School
  • Learner Driving Simulator
  • Virtual Simulator
  • A Drag Racing strip
  • Rally Cross Racing
  • ATV Racing

A small preview was held at the track yesterday.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 18:55   #2
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A map of the track

Report & Pics: New Race Track outside Mumbai at Khopoli (AutoMission Rally School)-map_map.jpg

Pictures of the actual track. Note that only the dirt track is ready. Tarmac section in less than 6 months. Again, this is only a preview of things to come.

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Old 22nd February 2010, 18:56   #3
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Had a chance to catch up with Pradeep Nair, the brainchild behind Automission. Here is what he had to say:

How have you been associated with Motorsport over the years?

I've done a lot of circuit and motorcycle racing. I started rallying at the age of 18 and was the youngest rally driver in the country at that time.

What are the highlights of your racing career?

I have entered & won 3 Grand Prix at Sholavarum. Also have a good number of victories in local events like Hill Climbs, Auto Crosses etc. I have topped the Himalayan Rally 3 times. I have the distinction of finishing the Himalayan in a Ford vehicle. Lots of Fords have come and gone, but I am the only one to finish in a Ford. A Sunbeam Lotus, which is a thoroughbred Group B rally car, was once driven by me in the Himalayan Rally.

What inspired you to come up with this concept?

Actually, I had gone to Bill Gwynne to complete a rally course just when he had opened the rally school (in UK). I was one of the first Indians to go and do a full course at Bill Gwynne. Later, I brought Bill down for the Himalayan Rally, I drove a Bill Gwynne prepared Ford Escort in the rally. We have been friends since 1982 so the association goes back many years. I chose Bill Gwynne because I believe it is one of the best rally schools and he has also produced WRC World Champions like Richard Burns; his credentials are impeccable. Also Mohammed Bin Sulayem, the Middle East Champion, is one of his prodigies and so is King Abdullah of Jordan. Bill has rallied with people like Russell Brookes. Bill is also a 500cc Motocross Champion. He has got the expertise in both cars and bikes. I am considering bikes at a later stage, so I feel I found the right person to team up with. He has been to India before and he speaks thorough English. Language would have been a problem if I had gone to a European school. These experiences inspired me to come up with the concept in association with Bill Gwynne.

What is the total area of the plot, what tracks are you looking at and when would each be opening?

The total area of the plot is approx 26 acres out of which I think 20 is usable, the rest can be used for service areas and other purposes. Coming to the tracks, right now we have a dirt track where a rally car can run freely. Rally school cars will be driven and there is a separate track for 4x4 vehicles too. In the second phase, we are looking at a tarmac track for Auto Cross events which is a combination of tarmac and dirt tracks. Eventually, in the third phase, we will have a professional drag strip where drag events will be held.

What is the Advanced Driving School and what would be taught to students here?

All drivers have inherent mistakes that they make repeatedly and are never corrected. eg: riding the clutch. The first thing we will do is polish your driving, make it stress free and in the second part we will teach you how to deal with panic situations like skidding (as an example). After learning basic car control, we will teach you advanced techniques like 4 way sliding, hand brake turns. In a nutshell, its all about car control and we will make you a pro.

What are the different courses that would be offered in the rally school?

We will have the beginners course which will be an extensive full one day course. Most people question the duration of just a single day, but what one does not realize is that when you start driving at 8 AM and finish at around 5.30-6.00 in the evening, you will have done quite a bit of driving. In fact, you could get fatigued by noon itself. At the end of the course, our rally instructors will give you feedback on your performance. Our instructors are very fair and if you don't have it in you, they will be honest in telling you to go look for another hobby. Many people spend huge amounts of money to enter events only to realize at the end that they don't have it in them. So here, basically at the end of the day, we evaluate the concerned person, give him a fair opinion about his abilities and he can then come back for more if he wishes to. Also if we feel that an individual has the capability, we have a tailor made rally course for him. There will also be night courses.

What cars would be used in the rally training and would there be instructors from the Motorsport fraternity?

All the instructors will be from the Bill Gwynne Rally school. They are members of the British Rally Driving School Association and FIA affiliated. Most of my instructors are Rally Cross champions. As far as cars are concerned, we are looking at offers from some manufacturers, so far no one has come forth with an offer. We have a few cars on our mind like the Maruti Swift, the Skoda Fabia and even Fiats that would suit us well. Initially, we will have 5 cars and 5 instructors to start off with.

How does the training session work?

Each car will have one instructor and one student. The student will do around 6-7 laps after which he will be taken to a briefing room. Here, he will be shown an in-car video of his drive. He will be pointed out his mistakes and where he needs to improve. All cars are fitted with cameras and intercoms.

What would be the duration of the courses and the fees for the same?

As I mentioned earlier, the basic course will be a one day program, but then we would also have other tailor made courses with different durations. I feel the one day course should suffice for beginners. Coming to fees, we are looking at somewhere between 8,000 - 10,000 rupees for the one day program which is exactly the same course as run anywhere else in the world. An advanced driving school always has a one day course. If someone has completed a course and wants to come back for more,we will definitely be looking at discount deals. In the future, we are also looking at packages where one can do 5 courses in 'x' amount of days. We would also be planning memberships eventually.

Would the rally school assist course graduates to get into Motorsport? Will you be having any tie ups with teams?

Promoting Indians into rallying has always been our aim. Few have gone into circuit racing and done well for themselves, but I haven't seen many rally drivers going to Europe and making a name for themselves in competitions like WRC. Infact, we plan to have a Talent Hunt to produce the best rally drivers from India and then push them onto WRC from our tie ups with teams like Subaru (and others).

What would be the certification like?

A Graduate will get an official course completion certificate saying that he has completed the Bill Gwynne Rally course.

Would you be renting the track out to private events as well? Are you looking at pay and drive too?

Of course. The whole idea is to run a rally school from Monday to Friday and then open the track to other events on weekends. As far as the pay and drive is concerned, we are looking at a plan of having a stock of rally cars ready where people come and rent the cars, drive them around without the bother of maintenance. We are looking at having Track Days in the future where owners can come and drive their own cars around the track, but that is only possible once the tarmac section is ready.

Any special plans for the monsoons?

Monsoons are the best time to do a rally course because the cars slide around, you need to work harder to control them. All rally schools do very well in monsoons and we will be looking at some off road events as well during that time.

What are the other facilities which would be offered?

There would be quite a few facilities that would be offered. We would be setting up a complete workshop to deal with modifications. All our cars that are used for training and driving around on the track will be FIA compliant. Once the tarmac is ready, we will look at options of tyre rentals, complete mechanical assistance and other facilities to look after owner driven cars as well. Apart from that, there will be an in house ambulance and medical assistance round the clock on track.

What are the other amenities planned?

Yes, we have plans for a restaurant and cafe. Since most people will come here with their family, we are looking at some entertainment facilities. We are also looking at having Live bands on the weekends, alongwith an amphitheatre. Though all of these add-ons will take time, I expect the cafe to be up and running in 2 months time.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 19:07   #4
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Two things that left me HUGELY impressed are:

- The sheer potential of the track. It's a sizeable property with no real obstructions in between. The flexibility in layout is immense. Down west, this is the FIRST such initiative taken and full marks for that. Plus, it only takes a little over an hour to get to the track from Mumbai. Pune'ites will find the commute time reasonable too.

- The leadership. Pradeep is clearly the man for the job. Not only does he have experience, but also super vision.

Good luck Pradeep.

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Old 22nd February 2010, 20:35   #5
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Wow , this is good news . I hope they come up with bike track (soon enuf) also and not just the one for cars.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 20:47   #6
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Sounds Good. Looks Good. Feels Good. Cant wait for the tarmac to be completed.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 20:51   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niks_devil666 View Post
Wow , this is good news . I hope they come up with bike track (soon enuf) also and not just the one for cars.
Bikes ran on the track too.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 20:55   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
Attachment 293540

Automission Motorsport,



Future plans of Automission include:[list]

[*]A Drag Racing strip
Forget everything else. Just let us know about that one particular part of information. Most important to us.
WHEN & HOW
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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:29   #9
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Let me know if you need any assistance with the kart track. We have been around karting circuits in asia and Europe and would glad to chip in with some inputs.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:44   #10
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Sounds great! Does anyone know when it will be open to the public?
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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:46   #11
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That is a really nice initiative and its great to see a facility like this come up . Good Luck to them !
The manufacturers should really be supporting something like this . Mahindra , Tata , Maruti should come forward and assist efforts like these .
Awesome photos and write up Dippy .
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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:58   #12
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This is super stuff, and I can finally think of hitting the track with my bike. Chennai & Coimbatore were way too much effort and quite expensive for a weekend of riding around.
So how soon before one of us can just go there and drive our own cars through the dirst track, or say go around the tarmac on a bike? Any tentative schedule tghat you would possible have information about?

manson.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 02:08   #13
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Finally a weekend treat I can enjoy the most...
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:27   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manson View Post
This is super stuff, and I can finally think of hitting the track with my bike. Chennai & Coimbatore were way too much effort and quite expensive for a weekend of riding around.
So how soon before one of us can just go there and drive our own cars through the dirst track, or say go around the tarmac on a bike? Any tentative schedule tghat you would possible have information about?

manson.
I don't see where a superbike can be ridden here. Do they have plans for a proper tarmac track? It doesn't show in the plan.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 11:03   #15
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Amazing and really indeed. Any idea when will be open to public? Can't wait to see it completed!
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