CHECKERED FLAG IN NEPAL | ASHISH SINHAPosted On: August 5, 2018 By : AutoLife Team
Invented around the late 1800’s, the exact birthday of the motorcycle is a bit blurry. However, what we do know is that someone, somewhere decided to strap an internal combustion engine to an already fast (for the time) bicycle, put on a leather helmet, and test the laws of physics. By the early 1900’s, enthusiasts of this contraption, now called a motorcycle, began clearing land and building board tracks to push the limits of both man and machine; thus, the culture of motorcycle racing was born.
While countless fads have come and gone, the motorcycles, the racers, and the fans are here to stay. In fact, motorcycle racing survived both World War I and II; and over the past century, the motorcycle racing culture has given birth to various kinds of circuits. Whether we speak of the dirt tracks at NCM Motorsport Park in Kentucky, the magnificent Misano Circuit in Italy, or the pop-up Supercross race setups at temporary venues, racers and fans alike have evolved into various sub-segments of the culture. It has become a true testing ground for motorcycle manufacturers to showcase their engineering marvels in front of thousands of spectators. So why hasn’t this sport officially made its way into our country that claims to be full of adrenaline junkies?
THE CURRENT SCENE
With international brands like KTM and Ducati entering our market and our neighbors from India producing race inspired machines like the recently launched TVS Apache 310RR and RTR 200 4V, the Nepalese market has already seen a shift towards highlighting the would-be fans and hopeful racers.
Events such as Racemandu and Moto Flat Track have given a great platform for young riders and race enthusiasts to showcase their machines and riding abilities. Yet, there is a major void that needs to be filled. The lack of proper tracks, equipment, track officials and the overall knowledge alone has limited the potential of these events.
While optimists might disagree, let’s face it, Nepal is poor! Decades of governing instability and the political tug of war has held back the socio-economic growth and progress of this great nation. Considered one of the poorest in the world, our country has bigger things to worry about than paving circles in the middle of the forest on which weekend warriors can burn expensive fuel and rubber.
The social structure of our society is another major factor. With a big gap between the wealthy and poor, only a small percentage of the population can dream of dragging knee around a corner while the sun’s rays glisten off a Panigale’s immaculate paintjob. For the majority, two wheels and a motor are just an economical way to get to work and make ends meet. Besides, Hajur-maa wouldn’t approve of your obnoxious Termignoni exhaust, would she? In short, our society, and even some local governments see most of these gorgeous machines as a public nuisance that must be highly taxed and muffled quiet.
Regardless of these challenges and many more that we don’t have column space to mention, Nepal has the potential to be the ideal playground for the most avid motorcycle racers and enthusiasts from around the world.
PROSPECT IN NEPAL
Motor racing is rare among sports for the simple fact that each track or closed-off public road holds its own challenges and excitement. While other sports such as football and cricket boast their own challenges at various venues, they are built according to specific guidelines that meet regulation and bring a certain level of uniformity across the board. Race circuits on the other hand, contour to the surrounding landscape, evolving some of the best-known hairpin corners and backstretches that bring thousands of fans from across the world to venues each year.
Due to its geographical location and cultural diversity, Nepal certainly boasts an enormous level of attraction. Each year hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to our tiny nation, whether in search of Zen in the mountains, or to indulge in our diverse culture preserved within the ancient cities and villages. Add an international level racetrack and related events to this equation, and the sport is bound to attract many more that might not have had Nepal on their travel bucket list.
The pinnacle in motorcycle racing is MOTO GP. Each year fans bounce from one circuit to another across the world, following their favorite manufacturers and racers with hopes of bringing home trophies and titles, telling the world that they are the best in the business. It is estimated that, annually, just the stop at the three race locations in the United States generates over $25 million in economic impact for the country.
A recent study by the Statesman estimated that with over 1,50,000 fans expected at Austin, Texas, just one of the locations in the U.S.—the fans would book over 40 percent of the city’s hotel rooms to attend the race. While many attendees travel from other states, a considerable percentage even attend from neighboring countries. With millions of dollars coming in from all directions, this money doesn’t simply go to the winners of the race, but is also spent on hotels, airfares, restaurants, tourist attractions and in the local markets. That means higher earnings for the whole state due to sales and related taxes. The study expects over 80 percent of the money spent by the fans will stay in the city of Austin at the end of the event. Even if we consider a fraction of these numbers and calculations for Nepal, where 1 USD purchases 110 NPR, this would be a great boost to the struggling economy and the federal government.
Nepal is in dire need of an economic boost, however small or large it may be. The ever-increasing taxes only put a small dent in the state’s struggle to create jobs and generate revenue with the limited wealth that is floating around within our nation’s borders. Perhaps a move to promoting and establishing proper circuits could not only help find the apex through the terrifying corner known as the ‘economic crisis’, but also give the future generation of Nepal-bred racers and engineers a glimpse of the finish line known as progress.
Contributed by Ashish Sinha, Founder at Iron Monk Works:
In addition to being an avid motorcyclist, moto-journalist and track enthusiast, he also holds a degree in Marketing and Public Relations. He aims to bring exciting content to our readers issue after issue.