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Battle Royale

Ryan Lee

Be it life, be it motorsports, be it cars or bikes, be it school, be it work – there is this imaginary ladder one seems to be climbing, no idea where it will end or when it will end, but one keeps climbing up one step at a time. Same is the story with Mahindra Adventure and off-roading as a sport in the country – if I may dare to say they are synonymous with each other to a great extent. Over a decade or so, Mahindra Adventure has been pushing the boundaries and testing the limits of both man and machine in the off-road arena – in turn, building and recognising a crop of good off-roaders in the country and also taking off-roading from being a recreational activity and hobby to being a hardcore motorsport event – off-road competitions.

Mahindra Adventure came to be in 2011 – an experiential marketing arm of Mahindra & Mahindra Auto Division. Bijoy a.k.a Chief of Mahindra Adventure put together a team of passionate off-roaders and adventure hungry enthusiasts. The idea on the drawing board (since we are an auto company- its cool terminology to use) was to give customers a taste of off-roading, so that they could understand the tough and rugged DNA Mahindra SUVs are made off. This led to the birth of ‘Off-Road Trail Drives’ – a short drive on naturally challenging terrain outside the city – this model was successful and traveled to over 20 cities across the country – since then it’s been 10 years and till date, we organise trail drives it the most exotic locations in the country and see participation of over 50 Mahindra SUVs at each event.

Once the bug had bitten, our job was successful. Customers then wanted to further explore their vehicle capabilities, hone their skills of off-roading, and delve into this new world called – Off-Roading. Back to the brainstorming sessions, countless cups of caffeine – the idea of the ‘Off-Roading Trophy’ was born – it may seem like ideas come that easy to us, but let me assure you – it’s pandemonium in Chief cabin during these sessions – temperatures do rise – but after all Mahindra Adventure is a way of life. Off-Roading Trophy – this is where things got serious and off-roading itself changed course from a leisure activity to a competition – a dedicated sport.

Just like Trail Drives, we held a special category called Off-Roading Trophy at the same locations, customers with their 4x4 Mahindra SUVs could participate. Like every other competition – participants had to complete a series of technically made obstacles – points were secured based on a judging system (judges being us – we are fair – don’t raise your eyebrows) and 5 winners (2 from stock car category and 2 from modified category and 1 from women’s category) from each location won a seat (fully paid trip including airfare and lodging and boarding) to take part in the grand finale of the Off-Roading Trophy at our Off-Road Training Academy at Igatpuri and the overall winner would get the keys to a new Thar – yes the Off-Roading Trophy has the highest value in terms of prize money – a new Thar CRDe 4x4. The Off-Roading Trophy helped take the sport a few steps up the imaginary ladder and developed the sport further and motivated customers to compete professionally – this is what led to the birth of a lot of Off-Road Clubs across the country (you won’t believe there are over 50 clubs across the country).

The Off-Roading Trophy was and still is a great success and a platform for newbies to participate and compete with the creme-de-la-crème of off-roaders from across the country. The Trophy also paved the path for off-roaders to modify their cars giving them more off-road prowess. Once again customers wanted something different, something more challenging, something that will put man and their machines to the ultimate test – this very thought led to the rise to a one-of-its-kind event – the ‘Club Challenge.’

As the name suggests – ‘Club Challenge’ changed the format of off-roading in the country, from participating as an individual member, now you have to compete as a team against teams from different parts of the country – and do you remember the first idea on the drawing board – building community – Club Challenge was the fruit of that idea.

Club Challenge is easily one of the most sought-after off-roading competitions in the country. Registrations open for a limited time only – entries are based on first come first serve basis – 15 teams maximum. Each team consists of 6 members and 3 Mahindra 4x4 vehicles (each vehicle is part of a special category – Stock, Modified, and Pro-Modified). Like the Off-Roading Trophy, here as well the teams had to battle against each other tackling a series of obstacles – these obstacles are a treat to watch – driving through steep trenches, ploughing through slush, pulling 5-tonne trucks, tug of war, driving over buses and cars – don’t believe me – click this link and watch - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu_87ZgxZ9s. Club Challenge took off-roading to the next level. Clubs started building cars and practicing especially for this event – to be crowned the ‘Best Off-Road Club in India’ and a cash prize of 5 lakhs.

Club Challenge has finished 5 successful years and the battle is not yet over. We are still filling ourselves on caffeine trying to get something more challenging, grueling and spectacular to watch each year to the competition. So, while the clubs build their cars and practice, we build ideas on how to get the better of them – a never-ending story – just like the chicken and egg – this one is here to stay.