With Chennai gearing up to host the first-ever inaugural night street race in the country this weekend with a round of the Indian Racing League and FIA Formula 4 India, there’s a cloud of uncertainty over the event.
Last week, Public Interest Litigations were filed in the Madras High Court questioning the use of public funds and the possible disturbances due to road closure near the Island Grounds for the December 9-10 weekend.
However, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu Member-Secretary J. Meghanatha Reddy revealed that the concerns raised in the PILs have been addressed for the race being organised by Racing Promotions Pvt. Ltd. with support from the TN government.
“We want to do this event inside the city to bring the sport closer to the people and create awareness. The races usually happen outside the city on a permanent track and not many know that it is even happening,” said Meghanatha Reddy in a chat with The Hindu.
Regarding road closures, he said, “It is a 3.5-km stretch and we have ensured there will be minimal disturbance as the area we have chosen is non-residential and non-commercial.
“The roads have been resurfaced and we have beautified the areas near the track and inside the Island Grounds which will be useful even after the race.” Street courses are not new, and the Monaco Grand Prix F1 race was one of the first to use motorsports as a platform to promote the Principality back in 1929. In 2008, Singapore came up with the first-ever night F1 race and it has boosted the profile of the country. Baku (Azerbaijan), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Las Vegas have joined the street race bandwagon.
Earlier this year, Hyderabad also hosted India’s first Formula E race in the heart of the city, and a study conducted by Nielsen Sports Analysis said there was a $83.7 million benefit to the local economy.
About the presence of defence establishments near the track, he said: “The army was taken on board a month ago while the Navy, Coast Guard and Port Trust had no issues. As for the noise levels near the multi-speciality hospital on Anna Salai, the track is 200m from the hospital. More importantly, with cars mostly coming one at a time at the closest point to the hospital, the noise level might even be less than during normal traffic hours.”