NOORIABAD: As many as 15,000 spectators traveled from Karachi and Hyderabad to enjoy the third Hub Rally, Nooriabad, organized by Toyota Highway Motors in conjunction with Sherwani Motors here on Sunday.
The newest, shortest and fastest track for rally racing in Nooriabad is a welcome change as rally racing connoisseurs are more accustomed to watching top rally drivers here including Nadir Magsi, Mukesh Chawla and Tushna Patel and those visiting here from Turkey, Qatar and Japan showcase their skills on longer tracks at Hub or Jhal Magsi which cover some 200 kilometers or more. But the new specially prepared 32 km off-road track in Nooriabad meets international standards with rugged terrain, including sandy, muddy, rocky and mountainous areas, thus adding to the adventure.
Although still named ‘Hub Rally’, this was the second such rally race held in Nooriabad. Of the people drawn to the sport and coming from the big cities to enjoy the action in their fast cars, several locals stood out in the crowd. Dressed in simple shalwars and kameez, they had their heads and faces covered in mufflers instead of the caps or surgical masks worn by other spectators as they watched the powerful automobiles lined up to be flagged down in awe.
“We noticed some activity in our village, so we came with friends and family to see for ourselves what was happening here,” Mumtaz Ali said. “It’s a desert land. Nothing really happens here, so we’re happy to see that it’s all happening. It’s ronak,” he added, looking around at the capitals, railings in wood with the names of the sponsors, etc., at the various stages of the track and at the entrances, of course.
When asked if he also helped put up the tents and gates, the local quickly shook his head. “No, he said, I’m a worker, I’m looking for this kind of work for my daily existence, but no one has offered me or anyone here a job. I wish that had happened,” he smiles.
Another local spectator, who introduced himself as Gul Bahar, said he was from a slightly remote area. “I come from Jhimpir where I work in a roadside dhabba. I was here last year as well when the races first came here. I like everything about them except the trash. After everything is done, we have so much trash here and plastic bags stuck to the small plantation we have here,” he said.
“Most of the waste consists of plastic lunch boxes, cold drinks and mineral water bottles, not to mention plastic bags. I want people who hold their events here to explore the surrounding area and hire local restaurants here to provide them with hot and tasty meals,” he said.
“We can also help clean up the area later,” said Hassan, another local resident listening to the conversation.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Sajjad, a carpenter from Karachi, said he and his team of 17 had installed four timber frame gates at various locations on the rally track. “We arrived here by van the day before yesterday and were taken care of almost immediately, as was the other team, also from Karachi, who put up the marquees,” he said. “For our work, we earned between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000 a day. Frankly, I have to wonder if the journey and work in this dry, windy and muddy region was worth it,” he added.
The start of powerful engines caught everyone’s attention on the starting grid as another race was announced. Powerful engines roared as each vehicle was flagged off in turn, leaving behind clouds of dust that blew away the cheering people…until the dust returned.
Posted in Dawn, February 1, 2016