In Pursuit of Wheels

Pune-based Khodu Irani's tryst with motor sporting events date back to the '50s. There used to be a motorcycle race at Pune's Lohegaon aerodrome, and Irani used to compere the event. Though after the 1962 war, when such events were stopped at the aerodrome, Irani's passion for wheels didn't stop. Since then, he has compered all the major motor racing events in the city. From the Rodil Trophy ó an international motorcycle racing event ó to the Asia Pacific car rally's Pune leg, Irani has witnessed it all first hand. Vintage car owners and enthusiasts in the city may not know everything about the cars they own, but Irani does.

"Now, the sport has changed a lot. We have Formula 1 circuits in India. The sport has grown in a big way in the country. I don't do motor sports anymore," says the 79-year-old, who will be seen compering the vintage and classic car rally, organised by Vintage and Classic Car Club of India (VCCCI), on February 17 at Flora Fountain, Mumbai.

The cars may change, but Irani has been a constant at the VCCCI vintage rallies organised in the city every year. He was also the compere for Maharashtra Automobile Sports Association's rally, which was organised during the Ganesh Utsav.

But it is not just motor vehicles that he is interested in. He is the founder president of the Poona Gliding Society and had a gliding license in 1956, even before he had his motorcycle license.

"Gliders don't have an engine; they fly as per air current. I have flown in a glider for more than five hours and 300 km from Pune. I also hold a international gold badge called Gold C, which is a certification from an international body, for excellence in gliding," said Irani, who is the senior-most Lions Club member of the district and has completed as many as 55 years of active participation at the VCCCI.

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