To Kari, WITH LOVE
"Kari always wanted Coimbatore to have a track and also impart racing in a professional manner. I see this as his dream coming true" - Vijayakumar
THE OCCASION brought back memories of the man.
The launch of the Kari Motor Speedway was more about the late race driver S. Karivardhan, in whose memory the modern racing circuit, Coimbatore's first and the country's second, is named after.
It was again memories of Kari, which saw race drivers and people connected with motor sport, both past and present, make it a point to be in Coimbatore on November 27 and 28.
And when a minute's silence was maintained before G.K. Sundaram, Chairman, The Lakshmi Mills Limited, unveiled the plaque of his late son, it was an emotion heartfelt by all those present.
Apart from being a top-drawer race driver, Kari developed cars and was keen on starting a racing school.
In fact, the FISSME class, which the FMSCI President, Vicky Chandok, rightly described as the backbone of Indian racing, was Kari's baby.
All these go to show the huge impact Kari had, and still has, on Indian motor sport.
"Motor sports and flying were Kari's passions," Sundaram told the gathering.
The Speedway is run by LG Sports, which is promoted by B. Vijayakumar, Managing Director, LGB Group, with former race ace Akbar Ebrahim as its Chief Executive, and has ambitious plans.
Built on what was Kari's micro light aircraft factory, the Speedway, built over 49 acres, has a 2.10-km racing circuit (built to FIA's F-3 specifications, awaiting certification) and two go-kart circuits of 1.20-km and 800 mts length (meeting CIK's Grade A and Grade B specifications, awaiting certification).
The racetrack has nine corners in all. The Speedway will also cater to two-wheelers.
The circuit was put together in three months and 15 days, which is probably a record of sorts.
Kari and Vijayakumar grew up together.
"Kari introduced me to car modifications. He always wanted Coimbatore to have a track and also impart racing in a professional manner. I see this as his dream coming true," said Vijayakumar, a race driver himself.
Vijayakumar, whose newly-built Formula LGB 1300 is to make its debut in the third round of the JK Tyre National championship in Chennai on December 7, continued, "I've always felt that Coimbatore needed a complete motor sports facility of its own. The city's association with motor sports goes a long way back, you see."
Organised racing here was last held in the Sulur airstrip way back in 1968.
Vijayakumar's ambitious plan is to later convert this facility into an all-in-one sports complex.
"Not now, later, much later. I want to introduce cricket, tennis, horse riding et al," he said.
For now, the Speedway plans to run four-wheeler and two-wheeler championships, karting races and championships, the LGS-ADCA Racing School (sponsored by JK Tyres), LGS-Pro-Am Karting School (sponsored by JK Tyres), LGS two-wheeler Racing School and drag racing apart from other corporate programmes.
The karts to be used in this circuit are high-speed two-stroke Rotax engine machines, the 100cc direct drive and the two-speed and six-speed shifter karts.
Sanjay Sharma, Head, Motor Sports Division, JK Tyres, said: "Viji has shown the way. If we have four to five more tracks like this in different parts of the country, we can take the sport to the masses. JK's programmes will be run here. Karting has gone a long way in upping the image of the sport. Better infrastructure will help the sport become more accessible and affordable to the masses. This is how it should be."
The track is to be integrated into the racing calendar in the fresh season, while the Speedway is certainly a tribute to Kari, who lives on in our hearts.
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