Motorsports glamour in unexpected places
The setting is the 11th Auto Expo in New Delhi. Yes, THAT Auto Expo. The one because of which there have been, ironically, horrific traffic snarls in the capital. And this is the scene that is playing out.
Energetic dancers and blonde electric violinists in short skirts are creating an almighty ruckus and getting photographers and TV cameramen all hot and bothered. In the background are two production-based Toyota racing cars waiting to be revealed to the world. In the age of Formula One teams returning to the austere car launches of the 1970s and 1980s, it seems that that the centre of launch glamour has shifted from the pinnacle of motorsports.
One has to look no further than the start of Force India’s first two seasons to notice the stark contrast in how F1 unveils its cars. 2008 involved a grand spectacle at Mumbai’s Gateway of India followed by a no-expenses-spared party at the Taj. 2009’s launch was held online with images of the car making its track debut at Silverstone being released. This low profile modus operandi had already become the norm with teams like Red Bull in 2008.
The global recession is definitely one reason for F1 teams opting to do no more than just bring their brand new car to the track at which they intend to race. The other reason is the complete (except for Ferrari) disappearance of tobacco sponsorship in the sport. Hence the reason a predominantly midfield team like Benetton could afford to launch its 2001 challenger in Venice’s St. Marks Square.
Those were heady, and for the sake of common sense, brief times when F1 made such a big deal of unveiling a racing car. However, if stuff like dancing women and blonde electric violinists are your thing, then you can have a piece of glamour much closer to home.
By Vinayak Pande