New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) India's brush with classic automobiles will complete a historic journey when 28 vintage and classic automobiles dating from 1920-70 take the roll of honour at the F1 Drivers' Parade Friday.
The vehicles, registerred with the Heritage Motoring Club of India, will carry 24 F1 racers from 12 teams, including Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, N. Karthikeyan and Adrian Sutil.
Auto-collector and restorer Awini Ambuj Shankar will drive Ferrari racer Fernando Alonso in his 1930 Studebaker Commander - a family heirloom - that drove Mahatma Gandhi from an area behind Birla Temple to a house in Daryaganj, an old Delhi neighbourhood.
'Considering that Gandhiji rode in my car, Alonso is a lesser celebrity. The car belongs to my great-grandfather. I even have an autograph of Mahatma Gandhi that my father collected,' Shanker told IANS.
Each vehicle will be driven by an expert driver experienced in restoring and driving vintage and classic cars.
The F1 Drivers' Parade - a traditional kick-off ritual - is a pre-race parade of racers in the fray. It allows viewers to get a dekko of their favourite man on the circuit. F1 is being held in India for the first time at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.
In India, the parade will host the fleet of old automobiles which will do the inaugural lap of 5.137 km track at 20 kmph per hour.
Diljeet Titus, the general secretary of Heritage Motoring Club of India, will drive Mercedes champion racer Michael Schumacher in his 1931 sparkling black-and-silver Stutz Speedster - which wrested top slots at the Indianapolis race in the US and Le Mans race in Europe in its heyday.
'The track at the Buddh International Circuit is one of the fastest in the world where you can notch up to 310 km per hour. It is a dream to drive on the lap,' Titus told IANS.
The Delhi-based auto-connoisseur owns a private vintage and classic automobiles museum in south Delhi's Mehrauli neighbourhood with nearly 100 vehicles spanning a little over a century.
Club president K.T.S. Tulsi will drive Renault racer Sebastian Vettel in his 1947 Buick Convertible.
Tulsi, a senior lawyer known for his passion for automobiles, said: 'The drivers' parade at the F1 race was the best representation of the journey of human ingenuity and a visual history of the industrial revolution.'
'It is a contrast between what we have been and what we are in our automotive history. I had never imagined that the Formula One race will come to India,' Tulsi told IANS.
Tulsi, the driving force behind the pool of more than 2,500 vintage and classic automobiles and 250 members at the club, owns two vehicles - a Buick Convertible and a 1934 Austin 10.
Vintage auto-collector and restorer Vikram Singh will drive Force India racer Paul Di Resta in a 1951 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster.
'The XK can easily work up 120 miles per hour though it is not a racing car,' Singh said.
The Jaguar has a cult following in India in the 1940-1950s - in demand at the erstwhile Bombay-Pune racing circuits. But post-Independence, not many cars have come to the country.
Automobile collector and Rajya Sabha MP Vijayendra Pal Singh will ferry racing ace N. Karthikeyan - a Cosworth (tech major) driver - in his 1964 Mustang Convertible.
The car lover, who has never been to any F1 race before, said 'being a part of the parade is historic'.
The classic red vehicle owned by Singh was built in the middle of 1964.
The Mustang has raced in several stock car races - run on oval tracks - in the US where it has been used as a pace car, a safety pilot car to limit the speed of the racing vehicles in the sixties.
'The Mustang was later replaced by Chevrolet Corvette as a pace car,' Singh told IANS.
Ranjit Malik will drive Renault racer Mark Webber in his 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom 1.
'My automobile, unlike all other Rolls Royce models, is not royal in origin. It belonged to a British captain who worked for Balmer Lawrie. The 7,700 CC engine can churn up to 120 BHP (horse power) even after 100 years,' he told IANS.
It is one of the oldest and grandest cars in the parade.
-Indo-Asian News Service