| It’s Team India at the helm of the Bhowanipore Gujarati Stree Mandal Car Rally on Sunday. Picture by Amit Datta
The weather was hot, with the temperatures above a scorching 30 degrees Celsius. But participants at the two women’s car rallies in town on Sunday were all revved up and ready to go.
“It was a wonderful experience,” gushed a tired but happy Nupur Menon, a contestant of the ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ race from Clown Town to Ibiza, that began at 10 am and ended around 3.30 pm. “There were lots of people cheering us along the way, which was lovely, especially on the city’s fringes, where the children kept running behind the cars. Things went smoothly, so we had a good time,” she smiled.
The annual event organised by Disha and the Bengal Motor Sports Club spanned 100 km, and had surprise checkpoints along the way recording the time each car passed by. The Tulip Chart detailed the distance and time required in each phase. Every participant had to calculate the speed. Minus three points for an early crossing and minus one for being late. Plus one for being on time. No speeding was the key for the 38 contestants, with one driver and one navigator per vehicle. The car steered by Soma Sarkar, with Amit Das as navigator, sustained the steadiest speed to score the highest points and lift the trophy.
“The first one to cross the finish line was at 2 pm, and the last car was in by about 3.30 pm,” explained Kishaloy Goswami, an organiser. “In all, 19 cars finished, one dropped out and three cars broke down on the way, but there were no mishaps.”
Actress Shatabdi Roy had to back out of the contest, following technical trouble with her car. But that didn’t stop the onlookers from enjoying the sights and sounds of women at the wheel.
It was the Jungle Book team that emerged victors in the costume category, in the fancy dress Bhowanipore Gujarati Stree Mandal Car Rally. The 24-km race from the Lakshimnarayan Hospital in Bhowanipore to the Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society was organised by the Mandal, for the first time, but “hopefully not the last”, this year. Flagged off by mayor Subrata Mukherjee and cheered on by danseuse Tanushree Shankar among others, the 14 teams had decorated their cars and dressed up on themes like Hare Rama Hare Krishna, terrorism, Gujarat and Sourav’s boys — or in this case, girls — in blue. Parina Jagani, 20, first year B.Com student at J.D. Birla, was the driver of the ‘cricket team’ navy blue Maruti 800, all decked up to celebrate India’s victory over Pakistan.
“It was great fun,” laughs Parina. “We made the Cup out of thermocol and stuck it on the bonnet, alongside a pitch made of green velvet paper with cut-outs of the players pasted on and the Tricolour at the back of our car.” The cricket craze won them the Best Decorated Car and Best Performance prizes.
“There were over 1,000 people to watch the start of the race, and plenty more to clap them on at the checkposts along the way,” said Induben Joshi of the Mandal. “At the Calcutta Swimming Club, one of the checkposts, the members turned out to cheer the 56 participants (two drivers and two navigators per car).”
The winners were awarded Rs 1,500. The second and third prizes were Rs 1,000 and Rs 750, respectively. Two consolation prizes of Rs 500 each were also handed out. “But we gave Rs 250 and a watch to all the contestants, because we wanted to encourage them. That was the main aim of the rally,” added Joshi.