Why is Joginder Singh such a timeless legend in the world of motorsport?

April 04, 2021 at 02:13
Why is Joginder Singh such a timeless legend in the world of motorsport?

Joginder Singh.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, and evoke pleasant Easter memories, well, you missed out on exciting exploits of a motoring sport legend.

Joginder Singh (file image)

Joginder Singh (file image)

Joginder is non-arguably the greatest driver to cast in the now-defunct Safari Rally, mid-60’s to late mid-70’s.

The Safari Rally was traditionally set over the Easter weekend, and for good reason – it’s the rainy season.

It was an endurance rally, and only the best in terms of driving skills, hands-on engine tinkering experience and physical endurance could hope to complete it.

Joginder, who later earned the moniker ‘The Flying Sikh’, proved his mettle in all aspects.

The legend had started out as a spanner boy in his father’s garage, and this greatly inspired his exploits behind the wheel.

The Flying Sikh grabbed his first victory in 1965, in a Volvo PV544, with his brother as the co-driver. He later switched to a Mitsubishe Colt Lancer 1600 GSR to clinch victory in 1974, and 1976.

It’s in this Colt Lancer that Joginder’s feats made him world famous.

For instance, the 1968 Safari Rally was planned to run the entirety of the Great Rift Valley, and end in Nairobi.

Joginder got the No.1 car tag – which, in rallying circles, is considered jinxed. And it proved so, halfway in the rally.

He was flagged off the ramp first, but, halfway, his Mitsubishi Colt developed clutch problems.

It was rainy and getting stuck was normal.

Somewhere on Mau Escarpment, he watched around 20 of his competitors zoom past in a spray of muddy water, as he tried fixing his transmission.

His Colt couldn’t engage forward gears, just the reverse gear.

Joginder, being Joginder, turned his Colt around and started playing catch up, in reverse.

Subsequently, he managed to overtake almost all of them, stuck in the mud along the route – in reverse gear!

In that rally, he finished 3rd – having driven the last half in reverse gear – in extremely muddy conditions.

Easter hasn’t always been so boring, and slow. It was a season of adrenaline-filled rally fiesta.

The menu was two-way: Either extremely muddy, or extremely dusty.

Motoring was raw. The rally cars were pretty basic – none of the fancy bells and electronic assists in modern cars. To triumph, you had to be in the game.

Easter would find us hogging cattle ruts in the route picked by the rally organisers. If beyond the region, it was a favorite past time following the live reports of the rally via the national broadcaster.

That’s how Joginder Singh gained immortality, and genesis of the saying: He drives like Joginder…

This year, Easter has been ruined by the ravaging pandemic that has resulted in curfews and lockdowns. There’s not much to choose from, in terms of marking Easter with your family.

However, while observing the measures, one can still have an Easter break in select restaurants, outdoor camp grounds and some bit of travel.

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You’ll have fun with family shopping for gifts, paying for fuel or food and accommodation – and still get to save a lot of money.

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Happy Easter!


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