Back in the fifties, rallying always meant adventure. However, between mid-sixties and early seventies those long épreuves began a process of transformation in adopting the Scandinavian rally model, which led to the scenario we know nowadays – the event is divided in legs, each of them composed by a certain number of timed special stages on closed roads. But, even when this system prevailed, there were some rallies that maintained most of the elements of the “old system” on them – the most famous one was the East African Safari. It was a contest of endurance and skill on the East African savanna, battered by a scorching sun or demential rains, men and machine alone against the elements on open roads… And it was in that onstage that one driver excelled – Shekhar Mehta.
Chandrashekhar Mehta was born in his family’s farm near Lugazi, more or less 50 kilometers east of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, on the 20th June of 1945. As his name implies, Shekhar was from Indian ascent (more precisely, from Punjab), and his family had a wide range of affairs both in India and East Africa, mainly sugar and tea plantations, but also a BMW dealership for the British Colonies on the region. So, as it was natural for a son of a very rich family, Shekhar was sent with just five years old to an exclusive Swiss College and then proceeded to the renowned St.Paul’s School in London. And, as soon as he finished his studies, Mehta worked for a year on the London Stock Exchange and in a cement business owned by some relatives, before returning to Uganda with 20 years old, in 1965, to help his father Knimji with the family business, beginning with sugar, and only later reaching a position on the car dealership. Continue reading