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Old 12th March 2019, 09:55   #1
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Default Report: Vadodara Festival of Speed 2019

These are the words of Raaj Patel, who took part in the autocross at the Vadodara Festival of Speed 2019.

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Hi, I am Raaj K. Patel. I am writing this report about my experience at Vadodara Festival Of Speed 2019 event organised by Erda Speedway for the first time; situated at Sindrot- Vadodara - Gujarat on February 8,9 & 10, 2019.

This speedway is officially a go-kart racing track developed by the Erda family to train/practice their child Mira Erda (India's youngest female go-kart champ) for the further events. This track is also open for common people to experience go-karting for about 300 bucks for 2 laps or some. About the event; Feb 8th was for bikes 9th was for go-karts and 10th was for autocross - gymkhana format. I donít know what happened on 8th and 9th as I was not there. All I know that, the races were restricted to tarmac only. Iíll talk only about the autocross in which I had participated with my Fortuner (my guardian angel) by paying Rs. 1,500 as the entrance fees.

On D-day, I arrived on time 7:30 am and found the gates locked! Wondering why no one was to be seen, I called up the organisers for their whereabouts. They said "sorry, we missed to inform you that we will be starting late - by 11 am as we did not have any crowds on the previous days. But we are on the way and we shall reach in 10 mins."
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I was a little upset with the mismanagement and left to see the Pelican migration that happens every year. The birds spend time on the bridge built over river Mahisagar. This is also a famous hangout place for couples and youngsters as itís on the outskirts of the city. Itís near to the venue. Reaching there, enjoying the sunrise on a cozy winter morning and birds having breakfast on the river is a sight one cannot miss. But, I got bored and in 30 mins, left back for the venue.
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Old 12th March 2019, 09:55   #2
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I reached to see that still, no one had come. After sometime, they came and then I went in. It was about 8:30 am. Now, what to do next? Yes! Loiter around is the right guess and I did the same for 3 hours. All I observed was that there was a place for some snacks and the track was of dust (plot which they have purchased recently) and tarmac. Meanwhile, a few cars showed up. Observing everyone interacting with the organisers - there was no doubt that everyone were either their cousins or family members or friends. Only I and a guy - Vishal Rai driving a Safari were the ones apart from the flock. Forms were filled and we were good to go. The only document(s) required for participation were only a driving licence number and a car with a valid registration. The briefing started at 12 pm.

Rules and Regulations:
1. Wearing helmet and seatbelts were mandatory.
2. Hitting bamboo sticks (off road track), cones on tarmac, tyre barricades or running away from the track would result in a 5 second time penalty.
3. No penalty if the caution ribbon was touched (off road track).
4. No one held the right to argue with the organizers regarding the time. Else face disqualification!
5. Causing damage to the property would also result in disqualification.
6. Practice round was cancelled and directly race would start after a track walk. Out of 3 drives the best one would be selected as the winner.
7. Anyone willing to take the extra effort to beat the winning competitor would have to pay Rs. 500 extra for each extra drive (this was quite unfair).
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After this, a group track walk was done in order to memorize the track. It was about 800 m from start to end. Starting & ending points were same. The time keeper was allotted a tent. There was just a tree and a cement pole was used for fencing the boundary lines of lands - acted as a mental satisfaction for the contender waiting to start would not be rammed by anyone trying to finish with the fastest time.
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Looking at the cars, it was clear that mostly all the family members of the organisers were participating. All the cars were bearing the same number plate and the same design pattern: - side mirrors, door handles and spoiler were painted in light blue colour. The cars were Hyundai i10 Grand, Hyundai i20, Ertiga and XUV 500. It was time to start.

The race was categorised in 3 classification of cars - Hatchback, Sedan and SUV. First, the hatchbacks were lined up. The cars which showed up included Swift, i10 Grand, Honda WR-V, Honda Jazz and WagonR. Sedans - Amaze , Swift Dzire, Ford Aspire and Ciaz. SUVs - Fortuner, Safari, Gypsy, XUV500, Ford EcoSport, Ertiga and Renault Duster. WHAT?! Considering MPV and crossover segments as SUV was not a smart move! Instead EcoSport, Ertiga and Duster should have been put in the sedan class in order to maintain fair competition. It was also mentioned that only stock (in terms of engine and exhaust) cars were permitted, but a Gypsy was tuned and had a loud exhaust. Yet, they allowed it race as they did not have more participants and crowds. Also, the driver was a friend of organisers. This was the start of nepotism.

Last edited by Aditya : 12th March 2019 at 10:01.
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Old 12th March 2019, 09:55   #3
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The race was then started. The hatchbacks managed to finish at 1 minute 30 seconds on an average, the sedans at 1:45, while the fastest in the SUV segment was the Gypsy at 1:35. The time chart displayed the time for the SUV segment. Mira drove an i10 Grand and her time was recorded at the bottom of the list and my guess 'Kirit uncle' is her father - he drove an Ertiga and scrubbed the doors in the area where the ambulance was parked. Overall, there were some with penalties with some were just neglected for penalty points. These were the clear observations of the bystanders. Sadly, no one would expect this to happen when one was competing in the presence of the event organised by one of the most famous sportspersons of the same field. It was not a fair game play with true sportsman spirit. Some of them did not show up for the second and third rounds as they backed out scared of damaging their cars.
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Locally made dirt bikers were also given a chance to check their calibre. This group was classified in geared and non-geared categories. The vehicles included Impulse, RX100, Pulsar, Activa, Access and Aprillia SR150. One biker crashed on the tarmac, while the rest managed to complete without incident. Riding gear was compulsory, so the rider walked away unhurt.

Last edited by Aditya : 12th March 2019 at 09:56.
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Old 12th March 2019, 09:55   #4
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Here are some pictures of my car in action
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Last edited by Aditya : 12th March 2019 at 09:57.
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Old 12th March 2019, 09:59   #5
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Here are some videos of the event.






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Old 12th March 2019, 09:59   #6
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Time to talk about what everyone is waiting to hear - "Kitne log thuke? (how many crashed?)" Well, about seven cars were damaged out of 10 Ė 11 that participated. To begin with, the major one was with the i20. This guy failed to handle the car while avoiding hitting the cones on the zig-zag path and rammed into the tyre barricade. A marshal was injured and had to be walked to the ambulance with a leg injury! He was given first aid. It was his first near death experience. He was still stumbling to speak properly even after the end of the race. Vishal and I spoke to him and advised him to take proper care of the bleeding. Well, the driver was disqualified. A foglight and the fender lining of the car came off and bumper was damaged.
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Adding to the list Ė the Duster. This one broke the concrete pillar and nearly missed banging into an opponentís car that was waiting to start. Others had undergone some scrubbing. The Ciaz and Gypsy hit the bamboo poles on the dirt track, XUX and Ertiga suffered major scrubbing on both side doors and the Ford Aspire had underbody damage on the run and also hit the tree during the exit of the track resulting in breaking a side mirror and a visible dent on the C-pillar. The Safari survived the impact taken on the underbody while joining the paved terrain from the dirt track. During the recess, two of the organisersí friends got their cars (BMW 320D & Mercedes C-Class) to test their driving skills on the paved track. Unfortunately, both ended up kissing the tyre barricades. Later they did not take the risk to damage their cars any more.
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On closer observation of videos and photographs, my Fortuner was seen on 3 wheels on the tarmac. And at another point, the front right tyre almost lost grip from the alloy wheel and would have had come off if it had stayed in that particular position for a little longer. That would be my biggest nightmare - being a sitting duck in the middle of the race track. Moreover, I would have had definitely broken the locks of my front bumper if it was O.E. while approaching the paved surface.
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It was a 6 hour-long event. The prize distribution was done at 6:30 pm. Only trophies and participation certificates were given, but sadly no money prizes were awarded as advertised. There was only one female participant in the sedan class and she was given a second prize trophy to boost her morale and encourage her.
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My phone ran out of charge, so I could not record the podium ceremony. Still, I managed to record Mira's drive in a silver i20 after the race was over and the obstacles were removed.


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All in all it can be commented that it was good initiative to start this type of an event by the hosts. The lack of promotions and the venue being far away from the city center turned out be a disaster. They failed to get more participants and so, did not succeed in gathering a huge number of spectators. Yet, participants did manage to put up a good show and good sportsmanship was seen. Encouraging and praising the drivers by other competitors where the cars were lined up was the best part. It was a good platform to test the skills and get a taste of racing in an autocross.

It was a good day overall, overloaded with excitement and adrenaline rushing through the veins. I hope to see it again on a bigger platform in a more organised way.

Note: This report contains negative points to a major extent. It is not intended to defame any person or firm. This is an exact narration of what exactly happened on that day. Viewers can get exact idea of the difference between a locally organised event vs. a nationally organised event like Desert Storm, Raid-de-Himalaya, Dakshin Dare and more.

Now I feel more confident and am looking forward to take part in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm and Raid-de-Himalaya. Unfortunately, I have no knowledge about where to start from. This is where it gets difficult. I want leads and some information on how to enter rally racing. If someone can help me with this I would be highly obliged. To be the best rally driver was and will always be my dream.
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Old 12th March 2019, 10:02   #7
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Old 12th March 2019, 10:52   #8
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I have been to this Erda Speedway many times. I did karting here many times. Last time I did barefooted as GTO insists to feel the vehicle.

It's strange that we Vadodara-Anand BHPins wasn't aware of this event. Normally I try to follow most of the motorsports events happen in India. Somehow I missed this event which took place just 35 km from my hometown.

Thanks, Raj Patel for this report. Now onwards, I "lL keep a close eye on Erda Speedway.
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