Harpal Singh Bedi / New Delhi

Chief of Army Staff, General MM Naravane on Monday flagged off the Nazir Hossein Memorial Drive on Monday from Greater Noida.

 The first car to be flagged off was a retro-fitted Mahindra Thar driven by Col (Retd) SS Sekhon. 

  A second, a similarly retro-fitted car commemorating the original Himalayan Rally was driven by Surinder Thatthi, Vice President for Sport, FIA. Mahindra has also provided 15 support vehicles for the drive.

  The Nazir Hoosein Memorial Drive, a tribute to the legendary motorsport pioneer Nazir Hoosein, will see over 100 participants trace the original route of the 1981 Himalayan Rally.

  Manjeev Bhalla, a former winner along with Flory Roothaert in the original Himalayan Rally, praised the care taken to put together an event that is a ‘ fitting tribute to a man who revolutionized motorsport in this country.

   “The organizers and participants must be commended equally, for their zeal and determination to create this event,” he said. 

  “The level of dedication and hours it must have taken to survey roads, create easy to navigate routes, and clear all permissions, especially in a time when travel is becoming a tough thing to do, is hugely admirable.”
“One of the toughest parts of organising the event was ensuring firstly that all participants felt safe to attend it. 

 Secondly, the protocols across different states needed to be negotiated, but I’m proud that everyone involved with Team Firefox has pulled together to get it going.”
NHMD has put in place strict Covid-19 protocols for participants and support crews alike, in what is a first of its kind ‘travelling bip-bubble’. 

All participants were required to produce a negative RT-PCr test regardless of their vaccination status, and only then allowed for registration. 

Additionally, participants will drive in groups, sequestered to ensure minimum contact with those outside of the event through the day’s journey. 

Preceding the flag off, competitors were briefed on the specific drivers as well as safety protocols, followed by a gala dinner to commemorate the career of Nazir Hoosein.
Last evening at the dinner, Hoosein was inducted into the FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) Heritage Hall of Fame awards. 

Speaking on behalf of FIVA, Gautam Sen said that ‘there were few more deserving of an award which commemorates those who have expanded the culture of motorsport across the world.
It was a sentiment echoed by the Chief Guest for the evening, Deepa Malik, President of the Paralympic Committee of India. 

Malik, a Paralympic medallist, recalled her introduction to motorsport because of her participation in the 2010 Raid de Himalaya — an event that was a forerunner of the Himalayan Rally — and how it opened her eyes to what she could do with sport.