Tata Motors officials were unavailable for comment, but president of Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI) Vicky Chandhok gave a sneak peek of the initiative. (Agencies)
"It has been my longtime goal that we have all the popular racing series in India. And that is why I am happy that Tata has decided to enter the world of truck racing. It is something which is popular in America and Europe, I hope the fans here connect with it too. I consider myself fortunate to be part of the project from day one," Chandhok said.
Chandhok, who has been working on the project with Tata's, said the one-off race in 2014 will take place at India's sole Formula 1 track, the Buddh International Circuit (BIC). Though a formal announcement is expected soon, the FMSCI boss said 12 modified Tata Prima heavy trucks will careen around the BIC with experienced international drivers behind its wheels.
Though called a truck race, the vehicles deployed are six-wheeled prime movers to which longer trailers are attached. Truck racing began in America in the late 1970s and is popular in parts of Europe. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which is run on pick-up trucks, is one of the most popular events in North America.
FIA, the world governing body for motorsports, organises a heavy truck competition in Europe. Though Tata Motors has fielded teams in national rallies in the past, it is the first time it is pushing one of its best selling products into the racing arena.
It can be said that it has taken long for the fifth largest truck maker in the world to enter this space. Volkswagen and Toyota are the other major auto manufacturers which have a presence in Indian motorsports.
"The idea was conceived about a year and a half ago. The plan is to have a single round in the opening year. Depending on its success, the future course of the series will be decided. The aim is to make it a multi-make series by year three. What about the drivers and the bulky machines? It looks we will have a 12-truck grid in the first year comprising experienced Indian and international drivers. The truck will have basic safety features such as the roll cage, fire extinguisher, fuel tank, brake coolers etc," said Chandhok adding that testing was done in Jamshedpur last month and the results of which were satisfactory.
The event will be listed on the FIA and FMSCI calendar, he said. The truck's top speed will be around 100 kmph, a far cry from the F1 cars which zoom around at 300 kmph with ease.
The BIC officials, however, are excited to host the first ever truck race in India. "It is something we are looking forward to. We are told that we will have it by mid-March. There won't be any track changes required for the event but we will need some bigger recovery equipment," BIC race operations in-charge Farhan Vora said.
Tata Motors officials were unavailable for comment, but president of Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI) Vicky Chandhok gave a sneak peek of the initiative.