New Delhi, Oct 11: An annual rally of vintage automobiles, including motorised beauties with royal histories, organised by a private heritage trust may soon be scaled up with government backing to promote India as a preferred motoring tourism destination.Calling it an “untapped tourism potential”, the tourism ministry is currently considering a proposal from the Gurgaon -based trust to support its ’21 Gun Salute International Vintage Car Rally’ scheduled for February 6-7 next year.(Also Read: The latest Incredible India Ad will make you feel proud and with numb eyes!)Also Read - Delhi CM's Free Pilgrimage Scheme: Kejriwal Govt Includes Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. Details Here

“India had one of the largest numbers of these cars thanks to the maharajas and their love for automobiles. Events like these vintage rallies are a great opportunity to also promote India as a preferred motoring tourism destination, which is yet untapped,” Joint Secretary, Tourism Ministry, Suman Billa told PTI.”So, we are considering lending our logo and ‘Incredible India’ brand to this event, since through these platforms we seek to bring all like-minded stakeholders under one roof, which would eventually help in promoting tourism and conservation of such vintage automobiles,” says Billa. Also Read - Delhi Govt to Hold Meeting With DDMA Over New Covid Variant Found in African Countries: CM Kejriwal

Madan Mohan, founder of the rally, which began in 2011, says, “125 hand-picked cars” from home and abroad will be the primary attraction of the rally, during which these beauties will be paraded from the Red Fort to the Buddha F1 Racing Circuit.Mohan who is also the Chairman and Managing Trustee of the 21 Gun Salute Heritage and Cultural Trust that helms the rally says cars both classic and royal — dating from period 1925 to 1950s besides 50 vintage motorbikes would be the cynosure of all eyes. Also Read - Kushinagar Airport: First Domestic Flight to Take Off on Nov 26; Check Time Schedule, Other Details

“Another attraction would be a controlled speed racing on the Buddha Circuit. Two special Porsche cars, factory prototypes of 1950s vintage, brought from abroad, will race on it with full speed,” he says.”And, this year we have truly gone international, with cars coming to participate from countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, the UK, the US, France, Germany, China, besides royal beauties that once adorned the stables of Maharajas in India,” adds Mohan.

“Our idea of seeking support of the Tourism Ministry is also to promote India as a motoring tourism destination, which attracts huge number of tourists in some of the other countries,” he says.According to Billa, besides logo support, “the trust has also asked for some fund, we are looking into that as well. Though, we are yet to make it official, but we are also asking other states to come and participate in the rally next year.”

The two-day vintage car rally is also set to feature a day-long cultural programme on February 6, showcasing the cultural heritage on the country in the various dance forms, from Bihu of Assam to Bharatnatyam of Tamil Nadu.”These Maharajas, besides being lovers of cars were also great patrons of arts and music, and therefore, it is only fitting to display the two heritage of the country together in a grand celebration,” says Billa.Some automobile beauties lined up to participate in the event include rare models like Bugatti Royale (France), Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes Benz, two Duesenberg from the US (one of which is owned by American comedian Jay Leno), all from the 1930s.

A royal car that once belonged to the Dumraon Raj of Bihar, but now owned by proprietor of ‘Bombay Samachar’ Hormusji Cama, would also be part of the grand event.”This year, the focus is on quality of the cars and not numbers and we will present some of the rarest beauties, I can assure that,” says Mohan who is a car aficionado, who commands an impressive fleets of over 250 cars, rare motorbikes, old phaetons, locomotives and even steam-driven road-rollers.The 2015 rally in February was attended by the then Tourism Secretary Lalit K Panwar, who had shown keen interest in using the event as a platform to showcase India’s potential as a motoring tourism destination.

“The tourism ministry believes in our vision and, if not millions but at least a few thousands or a lakh of tourists, we can think of attracting through this endeavour,” says Mohan.The rally’s founder also said that as part of the vision to go global with the event, a few months ago, the brochure of the 2016 rally was released at the premiere Pebble Beach Concours d?Elegance, in California in the US, in the presence of Hollywood icon and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olympics gymnast legend Nadia Comaneci and business tycoon Ratan Tata.

“They all extended their wishes to this event and Mr Tata has even said that he would try to attend the event on both the days. Besides, this year, our judges would also be drawn from a number of experts and people who have achieved eminence in their field,” he adds.
In the fifth edition earlier this year, vintage automobiles including the 1886 vintage first petrol-fuelled car ‘Motorwagen’, flown in specially from Malaysia, Ford Galaxy, 1929 Morris, 1936 Daimler Sports Coupe, 1947 Cadillac, besides rare Lambretta, BSA, Norton and Indian bicycles were showcased, before the motor enthusiasts took the beauties out for a spin on a 52-km stretch from the Red Fort to Gurgaon.”This year, as well we will be hosting rare Norton, Indian, Harley Davidson, among other brands in the motorbike category,” says Mohan.