A New Di­men­sion

The story of how an F1 track be­came an ad film stu­dio for car brands.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL / CONTENTS - By Abid Hus­sain Bar­laskar abid.bar­laskar@afaqs.comw

How an F1 track be­came an ad film stu­dio for car brands.

“As ser­vice providers, we ex­pose all pos­si­ble op­tions like on-track/ off-track spa­ces, spe­cial re­quire­ments such as drift­ing, stunt lo­ca­tions, high­speed races, and over­all co­or­di­na­tion from the teams like safety and se­cu­rity.”


Of late, while shuf­fling through the many re­cent au­to­mo­bile com­mer­cials, we found a com­mon thread link­ing quite a few. What caught our at­ten­tion was not the ve­hi­cles in the ads, but the lo­ca­tion/back­drop/ ‘stu­dio’ the films were shot at. These were not ran­dom places, rather a well-off des­ti­na­tion, renowned as In­dia’s first For­mula One (F1) mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit — the Buddh In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit (BIC) — lo­cated at Greater Noida.

afaqs! Re­porter got in touch with the folks at BIC to get a lit­tle more in­sight into what was re­ally drawing the au­to­mo­bile brands to the lo­ca­tion.

Of­fi­cially in­au­gu­rated in Oc­to­ber 2011, the prime at­trac­tion of this mo­tor­sport in­fra­struc­ture is the 5.14 km-long F1 race track that has no speed limit. The In­dian Grand Prix was first held at the BIC in 2011. Fol­low­ing this, For­mula 1 re­turned to In­dia in 2012-13 be­fore run­ning into tax trou­bles with the gov­ern­ment.

Ad agen­cies first set their eyes on the lo­ca­tion in 2012-13 with the man­age­ment open­ing up pe­riph­eral roads and other sec­tions and later, the main track it­self for non-rac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.


The rac­ing in­fra­struc­ture is spread out across 550 acres, aimed at spe­cialised track ac­tiv­i­ties. The man­age­ment at BIC is of the point that it is mainly the vis­ual im­pact of the track and the sta­dium that draw eye­balls.

Ac­cord­ing to BIC man­age­ment, ad­ver­tis­ers who shoot their ads at the cir­cuit mainly in­clude au­to­mo­bile, rac­ing gear, tyre, bi­cy­cles, and high-end watch brands which find com­mon ground with rac­ing in tech­nol­ogy, pre­ci­sion and tim­ing. Brands show­ing them­selves off at the track in­clude TATA, Mercedes, Pirelli, Nis­san, Re­nault, Ford, Audi, Suzuki, and TVS Mo­tors among many oth­ers. In­ter­est­ingly, vehicle classifications range from the bud­get fam­ily cars to heavy-duty trucks.

Usu­ally, an agency or line­pro­ducer in­ter­ested in shoot­ing an ad ap­proaches BIC with the de­tails on be­half of the brand. The de­tails in­clude spe­cific re­quire­ments such as — num­ber of ve­hi­cles on the track, re­quired part of the track/com­pound, tim­ings, du­ra­tion of the shoot, type of shoot — stills or video and stunts. Re­quire­ments oc­ca­sion­ally in­clude other ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties such as food, ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­port, vehicle stor­age, and emer­gency med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

Ra­jiv Murishwar, head of busi­ness at BIC, shares from his ex­pe­ri­ence at the cir­cuit, “As ser­vice providers, we ex­pose all pos­si­ble op­tions such as on/ off-track spa­ces, spe­cial re­quire­ments like drift­ing, stunt lo­ca­tions, high­speed races, over­all co­or­di­na­tion from the teams like safety and se­cu­rity. For sug­ges­tions, we might of­fer up lo­ca­tions and shoot­ing spots on the track, but re­frain from get­ting into the creative part.”


Var­i­ous au­to­mo­bile brands have unique de­mands de­pend­ing on their make and seg­ment. A fam­ily-vehicle like a hatch­back or a bud­get vehicle like the Re­nault Kwid would want to have a clean road with­out bumps or pot-holes, with build­ings around (houses/ of­fices) and with­out too many peo­ple in the vicin­ity. On the other hand, a high-end mus­cle car like the Ford Mus­tang would con­cen­trate on dis­play­ing its per­for­mance and speed on the track along with its looks, how it be­haves at high speeds, on sharp turns, and on el­e­va­tions.

Off-road­ers and SUVs would specif­i­cally ask for a sep­a­rate of­froad mud track laden with ob­sta­cles and wa­ter bod­ies that are pre­pared ac­cord­ing to re­quire­ments.

A sedan, with more of a cor­po­rate feel, would ask for a smooth road with a back­drop of an of­fice or driv­ing into a garage. The cir­cuit’s team build­ings, cov­ered in glass panes, dou­ble up as of­fice build­ings for such shoots. Mo­tor­cy­cles tend to pre­fer su­per­vised stunts cou­pled with on-track per­for­mance and high speeds.

Al­though the cir­cuit has been a set for ads of al­most all classes of au­to­mo­biles, it is yet to see its first pocket-friendly elec­tric vehicle. Many times track ac­tiv­i­ties also end up be­ing part of a full-scale ad film. Mercedes’ AMG GTR con­ducted a time-keep­ing ex­er­cise. The record lap of the vehicle on the track was shot as an ad film.

The man­age­ment team at the cir­cuit points out that most brands pre­fer early morn­ings and late af­ter­noons for shoots mainly be­cause of the light­ing con­di­tions and ve­hi­cles priced over `11-12 lakh tend to stick to the race-track while oth­ers use the pe­riph­eral roads. Team mem­bers, how­ever, main­tain that some­times show­ing a lower range vehicle on a pro­fes­sional race track adds a whole new edge to it.


Al­though the cir­cuit does not have spe­cific charges for ad shoots, rates de­pend on book­ing du­ra­tions of the fea­tures of the in­fra­struc­ture as a whole. Track charges are slightly higher for week­ends with the rate be­ing `12 lakh for eight hours (sin­gle day) and `10 lakh per eight hours for week­days. Rates de­crease with the re­duc­tion in book­ing du­ra­tion with the low­est be­ing `1 lakh for an hour on week­days. Apart from the track, the pe­riph­eral prac­tice roads, the cir­cu­lar road, garages, and other fea­tures come at rates vary­ing from `5 lakh to `50,000.

We also got in touch with Moon­rise Pro­duc­tions, a pro­duc­tion house which has been as­so­ci­ated with BIC for over six years now. The team at Moon­rise opines that au­to­mo­bile ads re­quire a lot of shots on the road and the sets at BIC save them from the trou­ble of block­ing pub­lic roads for shoots while also be­ing away from the bus­tle of ac­tual city traf­fic. The lo­ca­tions are cho­sen ba­sis the mood of the ad.

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