Friday, December 29

Safely Swift

When we came up with the plan of organising India’s first ever ‘Swift Train’, we encountered - “Why are you organizing this event? What is the cause behind such a train? Oh, lots of jobless people having nothing to do; what else? All this only for fun, eh? What a waste of fuel!”

“When I spoke to some people about the event their first reaction was about the cost of petrol and who was going to pay for that” - Suneesh Simon

Most events today have an ‘in aid of’ or ‘proceeds to the cause of’ tag attached, either to get sponsors, to get the crowd or just to be ‘fashionable’. It’s become the norm to do an ‘event’ to raise funds either for a NGO or for a cause. Here at the Swift Club we just wanted to put a running train of fifty cars on Chennai roads, for the sheer beauty of the formation, for the sake of unlimited fun, for the wonderful car, for enjoying the long drive, for conveying road safety, for... Oh no! We’re also getting into the ‘cause’ factor now.

The Swift Club started as an online ‘community’ in Orkut (an Internet social network service run by Google) and slowly grew beyond the internet into an offline network of Swift owners. “I started the community hoping to network with some others who had bought the same car, hoping to understand the car better, I never knew what I had started,” says Aneesh Kumar Deepak.

The Chennai Swift Club is the baby of a few car enthusiasts, who felt the need for a car club in Chennai (to start with) and eventually create a presence all over India. There is an increasing need among car owners and driving enthusiasts for a forum or a club, where one can discuss topics like tyre rotations, safe driving practices, performance enhancement modifications, service, repair, anything and everything about cars.

The response to the Chennai Swift Club was slow and steady. In recent days thanks to the numerous posters that have been splashed all over the city announcing the The Swift Train, membership has skyrocketed.


The idea of the Swift Train started as a small concept two weeks ago and with less than half a dozen people playing an active part in the thought process, ended up as a runaway success with over thirty cars making it on the final day. Over 50 enthusiasts registered for the event, some got hit by the flu, other flew out of town... some just “dei! forgot machan!” Poor chaps have no idea what they missed.

Starting at ‘Coffee?’ in R.A. Puram with about five cars the train was to wind itself across the streets of Chennai and end at the Sriperambdur MMSC Race track with about 30 cars. To ease logistics we decided to stagger the train by adding cars as we went along the route - the snake game on Nokia phones best explains the concept. We thought this would give our club the visibility it needs to sustain momentum of the take off and grow further.

Prabha giving last-minute instructions to Team Leaders
Scheduled for Sunday, 24 Dec at 9 AM, the train was flagged off with 6 Swift cars from ‘Coffee?’ on Greenways Road. We had our stickers in place, grabbed a quick sandwich, took a few pictures for the record books and were on our way... bottles of Coke and Kinley loaded up in every car.

We started at 9:10 AM and it took us some time to ‘get the hang’ of the TRAIN.

It chugged along the length of the Adyar Bridge into the Sardar Patel Road, crossed Madhya Kailash Temple, and turned right to the second point at Kotturpuram. What started off as a fun drive; eventually progressed into a fourteen car train. Itwas beautiful to see one Swift tailing behind another, a real treat to watch. The Train picked more cars near SIET on Mount Road.

By this time the traffic police were so excited with the entire idea that one of them decided to escort us in the new flashy Police cars till Nungambakkam High Road.. sirens blaring and all!

The public were amazed to see this wonderful feast for the eye and cheered the train as it passed through other important city junctions like Sterling Road, Spurtank Road. The train moved down the subway at Egmore, and turned onto Poonamallee High Road, adding more cars, going past the Ega Theatre.

It then turned right, under Anna Arch adding the last set of Swifts and driving into Anna Nagar, then down 2nd Avenue, Thirumangalam, and back up to the Koyambedu Circle. The train did the entire stretch of the reminder on Poonamallee High Road.

When the city roads made space and gave way to the NH4, it was that time of the day, really smooth, wide roads, it curved beautifully, and you had to watch the Swift Train to see how beautiful the Swifts looked. The official event photographer was Arvind and his acrobatic skills. “The poor guy had to take my directions too on what to do... At one place, I looked into the rear view mirror and said..."Take that", and he got a jolt and said...what??”, says Pradeep

We were ‘energised’ by the Red Bull team of girls as soon as we reached the track. An absolutely refreshing feeling.


Nearly 30 Swifts as a train is bigger than even the Grand Trunk Express (arguably the longest train) which happens to have only 24 bogies” said Rishikesh Sreedhar, a participant.

Rishikesh had hardly used his car before the event. He had done just logged under a 1000 Kms since he bought the car few months ago. The event has bonded him so well with his car that he may even drive all the way to Pune for his wedding in a few weeks from now.

It was truly the most incredible moment of the train. We stepped on the pedal and headed into Sriperambdur Race Track in style and synchronization.

“All the variants, all the colours, Chennai Swift Club Truly, Colourfully rocks!!”, says Divya Kapoor, adding, “but, mine was the lone Mint Frappe... made me feel special.”

What we thought would be an end to the event became the start of the sequel. It was clear to everyone why the train ended here - at the heart of India’s racing - our very own Sriperambdur race track. The participants had quick pit stop and rushed to the viewing tower to cheer the Formula Swifts in the final race of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship The Swift Club was in for a surprise after this. Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) were so thrilled with the enthusiasm shown by us that they permitted us to drive the Train on the track.

All of us were so excited - we could hardly wait to get in.

“Before the event...
Have to wake up early on a sunday and be disciplined into falling in line for a slow, torturous drive to a race track to watch someother lucky few race on better wheels and better roads.
After the event...
Actually got a chance to push the car by racing(?) on the track!! Definitely not the least... met some very cool like minded people who know how to have a good time. All in all, I forgive you guys for waking me up early on a sunday. Count me in for future events (ceteris paribus). “
- Govind Bajaj


For most of us, this was the first time on a track. We were nervous, excited and it was indeed a dream come true. We assumed that it was just one lap that we would be allowed, and to our surprise, they asked us to keep going, and our happiness knew no bounds, so the young guns started reving and racing against each other. Just when we thought that we were done at the end of the 2nd lap, they let us do one last lap, we were literally in Heaven. When we got off the track, everyone in those Swifts were the happiest people in Chennai.

“Hey guys. It was just awesome!! The entire day was just super!! Mind-blowing, a great experience on the track… It was surreal!! Thanks for pullin’ me out of my bed. The next time I promise to do more than just turning up!!” said Ashwini, who drove a Black Swift.

“Thanks Pradeep, for driving the car cautiously so I could do my job of capturing those captivating moments!” - Arvind Ram

Organising this event single-handedly is no joke. We had some friends of ours help us to make this a huge success.

Zest, the latest product from Club Mahindra Holidays, sponsored a part of the event and printed the stickers for the cars. JK Tyres, always ever-willing to support such events, sponsored the food and beverage at the track and also gave all the participants T-shirts and caps. Radio City covered the event with their ‘Car Jockey’ Solomon, who hopped from one car to the other. MMSC helped organise the finale at the track, making sure that all the participants get back home with a full stomach!

“It was like attaining Moksha. 48hrs later all of us are still in a state of high ” - Pradeep

We have seen some success already; The Chennai Swift Club has already inspired the Swift owners to drive down from Bangalore and Kerala to be part of the Swift Train and start the Swift Clubs in Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. “Next time, give me just 3 days notice and I will be here,” said Anish Nath from Cochin. The biggest take away for all of us was “Fun can be safe too”... "quod erat demonstrandum" (literally, "which was to be demonstrated, has been") Here we had the cause for the event. The slow Swift Train was a test of patience, meant adhering to rules and co-ordination.

“The captions were captivating!” - Vivek C

The immediate contrasting experience - the adrenaline rush in the race track with the car controlling the driver (rather than the other way around), handling high revs, established the relationship between man and machine. And that’s what The Swift Club is all about.

The most captivating part of all the graphitti on the cars was the safe-driving slogans, customised, individual slogans for each of the cars, thought up by Divya Sriram and other members of the club. They were such a hit that people began to identify with them... some even realised that their personality reflected in their slogans!

The return journey was not a planned Train. But it was amazing to see smooth, controlled euphoria on the highway and just smiles, seatbelts and letting go on the city roads.

The Chennai Swift Club has just begun its work!

Thanks everyone for being there and making this happen!

Aneesh, Prabha, Harsha, Balaji, Divya

Photos from Pradeep


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