Anukraman Singh is Founder and President of Western Motorsports, which organizes one of the premiere TSD rallies in all of India, the JK Tyre Monsoon Ride. This isn’t your typical, gimmick rally, either. This is a story of passion, teamwork, and adventure. Read on!
Where are you located? What do you do for a living?
I am Anukraman Singh from Jaipur, Rajasthan the land of kings, myself also belonging to a landlord family. I am the Founder President of Western Motorsports. I am into Finance but right now it’s Western Motorsports which is taking most of my time.
What got you interested in organizing rally events?
I have always been a sport guy, used to represent school in almost all the sports and played cricket and equestrian sport at national level (junior). We had track adjoining to our horse riding school and always fancied the bikes jumping and dirt flying. But could never get into motor sport as was doing well in other sports and they used to eat up my time.
From 2006, I started volunteering for motorsport events. In 2008, in an all women rally, which was a three day event where the organizers and the chief marshall messed it up and I had to take over. After seeing me handle the rally, one of the participants who was running a NGO offered me to do a event for them which was a five day event with 4 days and 2000 kms (1242 miles) of rallying on TSD format. We did it successfully without a single protest and professional participants also praised us for our performance. Here were laid the foundations for Western Motorsports.
After this event, other big events started asking for help in organizing. In 2009, a group of likeminded youth (age group of 20 to 32) came together and thought of forming a motorsport organization and start doing events of our own. In July 2009 we did our first event and first under the banner of Western Motorsports.
What event(s) do you organize? How long have you been running it/them?
We have an annual event called JK Tyre The Monsoon Ride; this is a TSD rally for both 2 and 4 wheelers. We have been organizing this since 2009 and this year it will be organized from 29th to 31st July. We have been doing other events also, though they are not annual. In 2009, we did our first ever ATV rally of India called Polaris ATV Challenge and a 10 day expedition across Rajasthan called Chalchitra Expedition with participants from Film Television Institute of India and some renowned short film makers. In 2009 and 2010 we executed 1st and 2nd editions of Ford & Willyz Rally. In 2011 we have executed 3rd Cankids Women’s Car Rally.
We have been helping other organizations with execution of their events from finding routes, finalizing stages, equipment and trained marshals.
Share a bit of trivia about your event? Something interesting not everyone would know?
JK Tyre The Monsoon Ride was basically organized to keep a word!! The first event announced by Western Motorsports was for a school alumni association which got cancelled and just to keep the announcement the event was organized on the same dates. And here it is, now our flagship event, and yes we can say a major event in northern India which gets participation from all over India.
Why do people go rally? Why do they stop?
People take up rally for the adrenalin rush and, yes, to check vehicles’ and their endurance. The areas generally through which rallies go are not on the beaten track which gives them an opportunity to see the unseen.
What’s the most challenging part of being a rally organizer? The most rewarding?
In a rally there are too many ends and you have keep everything in place and have to be precise on time schedule. The route you choose has to be challenging and safe as there are even female as well as first time participants on the rally.
Finish of the rally without any incidents and results without any protests are the most rewarding and satisfying parts of the rally. Fortunately none of our events we have organized or executed faced any protests against results.
Tell us about a time something went wrong during the rally and how you resolved the issue.
In JK Tyre The Monsoon Ride 2010, due to unexpected heavy rains, as Rajasthan is a desert state, the off-road sections of the route were washed off many a times and we had to do road books till the last moment. Six road books were made.
Still, on the rally day, out of the two off-road sections left, one in the first due to continuous rains the previous night got logged due to heavy slush and was such that even 4 wheel drive vehicles found it difficult to cross and the section had to be called off. Immediately, a tulip was made for an alternate route which rejoined the rally route and the restart was given to the rally.
To overcome such issues, we decided to never use off-road sections for Monsoon Ride in future, but realized all the fun would be gone. The alternate was found for this and from now on we are going to implement this. Off road sections will be there, but pre-printed tulips for the alternate route will be made with CIB and will be there with charge of the section.
How many entries did your event have last year? Is that trending up or down? Why?
We last year had 88 entries and in 2009 we had 52 entries. The growth has been due to hard team work and the performance in previous events. There has been a rise generally in number of motorsport events and also participation, but there have been events which were called off due to not getting substantial entries. Another aspect which I would give credit to is the social media networking, which has spread awareness and publicized such events.
Do you limit the number of entries? Why?
No organizer would like to limit the number of entries, but then it becomes difficult to organize logistics, merchandise, etc..
How might a change in the number of entries help or hurt your event?
If you get fewer entries it definitely puts a question mark on your capabilities as an organizer. Interest of sponsor cannot be justified which is a big negative for the future of the event. If you get fewer entries for consecutive events you might end up losing the sponsors, which would make it very difficult to organize an event.
Should rallies be run as for-profit corporations? How much money should an organizer make?
It’s not a great idea to run motorsport as non-profit as the motivation to organize will be gone, as money is needed to develop and survive. Especially rallies, which are time consuming and have a lot of wear and tear on the equipment, vehicles, and marshals. Getting regular volunteers, if they are not taken care of, would be difficult. Rallies are very time consuming and require huge manpower, which managing on non-profit basis would be very difficult.
Aside from entry fees, do you have any other means of funding the event? (Merchandising, advertising, etc.)
Yes we do have a sponsor JK Tyre. JK Tyre is the biggest sponsor right now. They have stood with us since day one and have assured us continued support for coming years.
How important are [vehicle] classes?
Vehicle classes are very instrumental in motivating participation in motorsport, as chances of varied participation is there and does not leave anybody behind and also the chances of wining a trophy is higher.
How does (or might) recce affect your event?
Intensive recce is the root of success in rallies. You get the best of routes and alternate routes and improves communication between locals and organizers. Tulips also improve with number and intensity with which recce is carried out.
What are your thoughts on spectators?
In India, rallies have very few spectators. There is not much following for motorsport, though it surely growing,
Does your event provide for organized spectating? Why/Why not?
As there is not much following, there is nothing as organized spectating in practice. People interested in the sport from the region are involved with the event otherwise. We keep our event live on the net which has been instrumental in generating distant audience and following of the sport.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone looking to get into rally?
People should be patient and definitely listen to the advice of people who have been in the sport for some time. Especially with vehicle modifications, they should not go for only cosmetic changes, but first it should be with performance of vehicle and that also which you can handle and not just following what others are doing.
What’s the biggest problem with rally today and how would you solve it?
The biggest problem rally circuit faces in India is sponsorship, may it be an organizer or participant. Surprisingly we have not been able to figure this problem. This is what has been holding Western Motorsports back. I myself have been funding the event other than JK Tyre who is the lead sponsor for our event. We have some great plans, maybe we will be able to figure the sponsorship issue as we age in this field and make a mark.
How do you mitigate environmental concerns about land use for rallies at your events?
We are doing only TSD rallies right now, so the land use problem is not that great. We organize plantation drives which in the future may balance our abuse towards environment.
How do you build/maintain a relationship with local land use authorities (city/state/national)?
We invite the authorities to our events and also inform them about TSD format as it is not going to be abusive and in a way these are good for building traffic sense, as we do not permit any offence towards traffic laws, and our rallies are not abusive towards nature. TSD rallies also promote tourism, so for TSD rallies, the administrative authorities are helpful.
How do you involve the local community with your event?
We involve them as volunteers and not marshals as that is a technical job. They are involved in helping with different offices of the rally as Document Scrutiny, Vehicle Scrutiny, Kit Distribution, etc..
How do you involve the global rally community online?
Our events are the first to go live over social media in India. There is a dedicated team with a plan for every event.
Which WRC event is most like your rally?
Truly saying, we stand no comparison to WRC rallies as we are running single day TSD Rally, but yes we do dream of organizing something which would be on WRC lines if not at par.
We’ve all got a rally hero. Who’s yours?
Would like to talk about Indian Rallyists as HERO, Gaurav Gill, Moosa Sheriff, Karamjit Singh and Jagat Nanjappa, we have grown up reading and watching them perform. Gaurav has many stories linked to his rallying how he used to fuel his practice session,s etc.. Moosa, the ace Navigator, everyday you get up to see a new update about him winning some or the other trophy. Jagat is the real hero to me who used to rally on bike with his wife as a pillion [riding on the back of the bike – Ed.].
Do you have a local rally club? Tell us about it! (If not, why not?)
I am myself running a Motor Sport Club, Western Motorsports. We formed Western Motorsports in 2009, though foundation of it was laid in 2008. In such a short time we have been able to become a major motorsport club in northern India. We already have some first’s to our name as Polaris ATV Challenge ’09, which was the first ever ATV Rally in India.
Tell us about some people who have made your rally dream a reality.
There is big team behind my dreams turning into reality all coming from different walks of life.
Aazaad – He believed in my dream and supported me financially by paying up his share when nobody believed and people even backed out at the last moment.
Yatin – Who joined me when he was a student and looked after all the nitty gritties of event, computer and internet related issues etc. without even asking for travel expenses.
Anirban – Made the websites without charging a penny and giving crucial inputs.
Shalini – Holds the fort for document scrutiny and finalizing things and making the work flow.
Mahaveer Singh Nathawat – He has always lent us his property and charging only for whatever we consumed and that also in parts and without any schedule.
Sanjay Sharma – Motor Sport head of JK Tyre, without his support organizing Monsoon Ride would not have been possible.
Who are your sponsors and how have they helped rally in your region?
JK Tyre has been with us from day one and has promised to be with us for as long as possible. They supported us with merchandise, media and yes financially also.
What’s your favorite memory, looking back at the time you’ve spent organizing this event?
In JK Tyre The Monsoon Ride 2009 we had created a loop an placed an eye candy TC an almost every participant went wrong and ended up losing direction. We had some senior officials from the federation and members of some other clubs who were amazed to see the trap laid by us in our very first event. This incident became talk of Indian Rally circuit for quite sometime and was even discussed on forums.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your time in the rally community?
Keep giving your best and don’t get bothered by what others do or speak, just keep grasping the good things others do in event and keep learning.
May the GOD SPEED bless us all!!
Thank you to Anukraman for the story, to Yatin for pointing us to the pictures, and to Sandeep Gupta Photography and Eshan Shetty for the incredible images which grace this page.
If you like the idea of a motorsport adventure, be sure to visit the Western Motorsports website (or on Facebook) for more information and pictures from their many exciting events. You might just find something to add to your bucket list!
Gearheads: Where would YOU find motorsport adventure?