Motor racing at night in India is set to become a reality. The venue will be the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) circuit, previously known as Irungattukottai race track, in the automotive hub of Chennai.
Confirming that night races – the first in India – at the MMRT circuit are definitely on, Vicky Chandhok, the chairman of the MRF MMSC (FMSCI Indian National Car Racing Championship and vice-president of MMSC (Madras Motor Sports Club), said the club has earmarked funds to install floodlights at the FIA-certified Grade 2 track.
MMRT, which was built in the late 1980s, opened for racing in 1990 and is the first permanent racing circuit in India.
MMRT's main circuit is 3.717 kilometres long with 12 turns and three straights, with the longest one being 250 metres (820 feet). The club circuit is 2.067 long and has seven turns. Both the tracks are 11 metres (36 feet) wide on average with 12 metres (39 feet) at the start line and operate in a clockwise direction.
Test run planned for August 7
Speaking at the sidelines of the third round of the National Car Racing Championship in Chennai today, Chandhok said: “A very professional lighting expert has given us a quote of Rs16 crore to do up the lights just like the Singapore circuit. But we are going for a low lighting just like they have at Le Mans. We are planning to install basic lighting that can help the marshals and officials see the incidents on track so that they make sure that `no one is injured’. Safety is one aspect which I and everyone at the Club, are very particular,”
MMSC has scheduled a test run on August 7 between 6pm and 11pm to evaluate the possibility of full-fledged night races in the near future, he affirmed.
“At MMSC, we have always set the standards. But we will be very conscious of safety. On August 7, we have night testing and once the evaluation process goes through, we will decide if we need more lighting and we will definitely have night races starting with saloon cars,’’ he added.
Chandhok, the former president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs in India (FMSCI), said the Club plans to upgrade many facilities at the MMRT and is keen on eco-friendly measures including a solar park to generate electricity.
“In the long run, we would like to host a lot of Endurance races and we are also planning to upgrade the track to support racing in the anti-clockwise direction, which needs about 56 changes to the track,’’ the veteran administrator who brought F1 to India, said.