A team of American experts is preparing the EKA Arena in Maninagar for its first dirt bike racing event on Sunday, to be held under the aegis of the newly formed CEAT Indian Supercross Racing League (ISRL). This will be the second of a three-part series of ISRL races, the first of which was held in Pune last week and drew a crowd of over 9,000 spectators. The third race will be at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.
“We expect a crowd of at least 12,000 for the Ahmedabad race and we promise to provide an adrenalin-fueled spectacle,” says ISRL co-founder Veer Patel and a supercross champion himself. “Our aim is to put India on the map of global supercross racing. The success of the first race in Pune has generated interest from sports broadcasters from around the world.”
Dirt bike racing is considered an elite sport in India since the bikes are imported and the infrastructure required is expensive. At the EKA Arena, the team is currently unloading truckloads of soil on top of a plywood race track to prepare it for the event.
A total of 14 Indian players, in the 17 to 25 age group, will be competing in the Ahmedabad race, for a prize of Rs 41 lakh. International players are from Australia, France, South Africa, Thailand, Switzerland and the USA. They will be competing in four categories: 450 cc international, 250 cc international, 250 cc India-Asia and the fiercely contested 85 cc junior class. Tickets have been priced at Rs 250 and Sports 18 will be broadcasting the event live, with an Australian commentator.
To be inaugurated by chief minister Bhupendra Patel, the races are being positioned as an evening of entertainment as much as a sports event. “We will have an hour of live music and there will be stunt shows where spectators will witness riders flying 100 feet into the air. The ISRL also provides a platform for brand promotion in the motor industry,” says ISRL’s Veer Patel, who is also founding managing director of Vadodara’s Lilleria Group, which is in the business of real estate and hospitality.
Modelled on IPL in cricket, ISRL currently consists of six franchisees, selected through a Rs 6 crore auction. They include BB Racing (owned by Atul Chordia of Pune’s Panchshil Realty); SG Speed Racers (owned by Sanjay Gupta of APL Apollo Steel, Delhi) and Gujarat Trailblazers (owned by Dhrumil Patel and Gaurav Gill of Vadodara).