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     Volume 4 Issue 34 | February 18, 2005 |

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Auto Mania

Imran H. Khan

Last Friday, the grounds of Gulshan Youth Club Field rocked as vehicles circled, swirled and spun from all over Bangladesh, into the dusty field to participate in the F1 Auto Fair 2005. F1, a new event management company, arranged this event for the second time in two years after receiving much kudos for their prior effort. The event lasted eight hours from 12 noon to 8:00 at night.

F1 showcased about 70 cars categorised into two groups: the classic, with its debonair taste, and the 'souped-up', formally known as the modified section. From the very beginning, the event was in top-gear as it was graced with the presence of US ambassador Harry K. Thomas. As the cars started to breeze in, there were ecstatic gasps as members of the audience spotted their dream cars. Private participants as well as companies boasted their modified cars, some preferring the classy, sophisticated look, while others went for the youthful, sporty look.

In the Classic corner of the ring, there were superstars in the arena such as 'the' 1924 Rolls Royce, Mercedes 1962, Mercedes 1973, Mustang and many more. Other participants included the high-end Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes, while the Japanese giant Toyota was also present with their top-of-the-line automobiles.

Among other cars that had the spotlight on them were the Mazda RX 7, BMW Z4, S500 Benz and the Jaguar S-class. There was also a F1 showcase, which featured some of the 'coolest' cars around, including the Nissan Skyline, Mitsubishi Evolution and VW Beetle.

On the creative side, there was the Modified section, represented by the proud owners as well as some automobile dealers. These cars had been 'upgraded' to suit the unique style and outlook of the owner. The outcome: to switch the riders into hyper-drive.

The show had a dusty start as car after car started to pour into the field. Through the "dust-screen", tantalising shapes of cars were visible. It was like being a child inside a candy shop. Every car lover that "one car" they fantasize about and most of them were there at the event. Tire and Rim shops were strategically placed around the field to brag about the latest and the coolest. There were also a handful of car stalls, with their latest imports to catch the craving eyes of the car fanatics. Volkswagen Club also had their little corner and their line of mini-cars.

A fun addition to the event was a Performance Factor event organised by Mitsubishi. This was a track at one corner, somewhat resembling a 'driving test' arena, where participants took turns to test their road skills. What was being tested here was not speed but skill. In other words, not how fast you got to your destination but how smoothly and carefully you got there. The winner of the event was Islam, who took home the prize money of Tk.5,000 and a T-shirt. He received his prize to the thundering applause of the audience.

To increase audience participation, each entry ticket included a voting token and the ticket holder was required to vote for his/her favourite car under each category. As evening set in, the winners were made public. The winner of the Modified section was the Ferrari F-71. This car was a modified look-alike of the Ferrari F50 that had been built on a Honda Prelude. The owner received a crest and a prize money of Tk.10,000. Under the Classic emblem, the winner was the Ford Mustang and the owner bagged Tk.15,000 along with the crest.

In the concluding part of the ceremony, Professor Md. Rezaul Karim, State Minister, Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, made an appearance as the chief guest and distributed the prizes.

Stalls from Navana CNG, Orion CNG, Haq's Bay, Ideal Auto, Mobil, Jamuna Lubricants and many other brands surrounded the field. Other services, including car accessories, CNG conversion and auto-loan facilities, were available on the fair premises.

The F1 Auto Fair 2005 was jointly sponsored by Prime Bank Ltd and Mobil, who also had stalls displaying information about their latest schemes and products. The Performance Factor part of the event was sponsored by Mitsubishi while the ticket sponsor, Nescafe, gave away free coffee (a nice break from all the dust) to the members of the audience who voted. Unlike political voting, there was no opportunity for casting more than one vote, so members of the audience had to make do with one shot of coffee. The Daily Star and ntv were the media partners of this glamorous show.

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