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Old 24th March 2010, 13:26   #1
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Default Must read Article about MMSC and how the Madras race track was created

This came up in the Hindu newspaper's Metroplus edition today. A must read for all those interested in the motor sport roots in India.

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Motor sports enthusiasts in Madras had a decisive factor in their favour — deep-rooted camaraderie. While prejudices weakened the foundations of motor sports clubs in a few parts of the country, the sense of unity among its members took Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) from strength to strength. From its inception, MMSC has been a model of excellence.
A nebulous idea of a motor sports club was formed by the exhaust fumes spewed out by two MG cars that were raced within the city in 1953. The desire for racing on dedicated tracks this race had ignited was not enough; it took the added ingredients of systematic planning and perseverance to make it happen. With great foresight, men such as M.A. Chidambaram and K.V. Srinivasan decided to develop a track in such a way that Madras would become the centre for racing. An Indian Air Force airfield at Sholavaram, long in disuse, was chosen. The contours of the airstrip severely challenged efforts to turn it into a race track.
After an L-shaped track was prepared, there were fresh problems. During a practice session, a car nearly ploughed into the crowd. In response, the spectator area was pushed farther away. The Western side of the track was riddled with potholes. As his bike hit one of them, Hari Rao went flying. It was nothing but a miracle that he survived this fall.
As the Army put its new tanks on trial at the airstrip, the southern section got pummelled out of shape. Following a re-design, the track became T-shaped. Whenever the Government godowns earmarked for storing wheat were filled to capacity, this track doubled as storage space. Such interferences required MMSC to make adjustments.



The track gave a fillip to motor racing in India, and provided wholesome entertainment to enthusiasts, but it was time to move on. Due to differences between the Military Estate Officer (MEO) and the Indian Air Force (IAF), which had control over the land and the airstrip respectively, and the surface of the track getting unsafe for motoring, MMSC started looking for land to construct a new track.
After approval from the State Government, 300 acres were bought from farmers in Irungattukottai, at rates ranging from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 an acre. An Indian Bank loan took care of the expenditure. S.N. Patel and Gopal Madhavan, who prepared a layout for the new track, found out that only 200 acres were required. The remaining 100 were sold to MMSC members at roughly the same prices at which they had been bought. A Trust was formed to manage the Club properties. K.V. Srinivasan and I were founder-trustees. As the board of trustees included M.A. Chidambaram, A. Sivasailam, K.D. Madan, S. Muthukrishnan, L.L. Narayan, V. Chidambaram, Venu Srinivasan, Vinoo Mammen and Vijay Mallya, the initiative had abundant support.
With handsome contributions of Rs. 50 lakh, Rs. 40 lakh and Rs. 25 lakh from McDowell, MRF and TVS respectively, the road to a new racing infrastructure was clear. Among other groups that contributed to the new track was ‘Wish Bone Ash', a four-member English band (Trevor Bolder, Laurie Wisefield, Steve Upton and Andy Powell), which performed in an MMSC fund-raising concert at the University Centenary Auditorium on December 12, 1981.
I REMEMBER
An award for best reporting of racing events at Sholavaram was instituted by the Madras Motor Sports Club. As it began to drive a wedge between sports journalists from different publications, the award was later scrapped.
INDU CHANDHOK Born in 1931, he is one of the main architects of motor racing in India. A key member of the Madras Motor Sports Club, Indu has contributed immensely to establishing motor racing in Sholavaram in the 1950s, and later taking it to Irungattukottai in the 1980s. Into car racing and rallying, Indu inspired two men in his family - son Vicky Chandhok and grandson Karun Chandhok - to embrace motor sports..
The Hindu : Metro Plus Chennai : Down racing lane

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Old 24th March 2010, 14:19   #2
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I read this article in the morning, very well made with lot of tidbits about how the entire racing scene was shaped in India, I take the liberty in saying India because Chennai continue to be the racing capital of the country.
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Old 24th March 2010, 23:35   #3
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Read this today :d nice article. I remember seeing that photo posted somewhere though
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Old 25th March 2010, 09:37   #4
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Nice read, esteem_lover It's interesting to know how the initial races were held at an abandoned air-strip (Sholavaram). I had heard about the races being held at Sholavaram a long time ago (never been there myself), but never knew that it was an abandoned air-strip.

The pic shown in that article..the location seems to be between Muttukadu lake and the curve short of it , right?

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Old 25th March 2010, 12:55   #5
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wow! thanx for that interesting read!

did not know that wishbone ash ever played in india , and that too in chennai to raise funds for the mmsc track.AWESOME!!

my respect for wishbone ash just went up.
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Old 25th March 2010, 14:21   #6
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Originally Posted by siddartha View Post
wow! thanx for that interesting read!

did not know that wishbone ash ever played in india , and that too in chennai to raise funds for the mmsc track.AWESOME!!

my respect for wishbone ash just went up.
They played in 1987 in Bangalore -a disaster because of us Bangalorians. Venue was the West End where Blue Ginger was. People throwing bottles at each other then one person totally stoned went on stage in the starkers. The cops hammered him. Later I found out he was the one of the thugs in my college
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Old 25th March 2010, 16:32   #7
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They played in 1987 in Bangalore -a disaster because of us Bangalorians. Venue was the West End where Blue Ginger was. People throwing bottles at each other then one person totally stoned went on stage in the starkers. The cops hammered him. Later I found out he was the one of the thugs in my college

oh damn! really now?
LOL , i can imagine how crazy it must have been. the youth then were famous for their notoriety.

The earliest gig that i can remember/heard of was jethro tull sometime in 1991-92. remember my dad telling my uncle has gone for that gig.

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Old 25th March 2010, 18:03   #8
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Originally Posted by Blue Thunder View Post
The pic shown in that article..the location seems to be between Muttukadu lake and the curve short of it , right?
I am not sure of that senthil.

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They played in 1987 in Bangalore -a disaster because of us Bangalorians. Venue was the West End where Blue Ginger was. People throwing bottles at each other then one person totally stoned went on stage in the starkers. The cops hammered him. Later I found out he was the one of the thugs in my college
He he he. Nice company you keep ajmat. Lol
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Old 6th April 2010, 16:37   #9
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thts an old picture which i have seen somewhere else as well, but not too sure where. We should visit the sholavaram track, i have heard so much about it, but never been there. What say - a drive to sholavaram?
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:03   #10
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Default Re: Must read Article about MMSC and how the Madras race track was created

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Another interesting article that appeared in The Hindu today

The Hindu : Arts / History & Culture : Memories of Madras: From Sholavaram to Irungattukottai
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:21   #11
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Default Re: Must read Article about MMSC and how the Madras race track was created

you can also find more details here

MMSC - Madras Motor Sports Club
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Old 26th October 2011, 21:46   #12
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Default Re: Must read Article about MMSC and how the Madras race track was created

Nice read again bottle. I have seen vehicles going to and from sholavaram in the 80s. we lived in ayanavaram/perambur and suddenly on a sunday you see all these racing cars being driven or carried.
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