EXPERIENCE THE THRILL
MOTORSPORTS IN MUSCAT
After spending a few years in Oman, I’ve realised that Omanis have an incessant passion towards vehicles — whether it is driving long hours, or even doing things that you’re not legally not allowed to do with vehicles. There is a certain amount of craze that could be attributed to the fact that Oman’s roads are lovely and are at most times traffic free, or because of the nation’s scenic landscape that forces you to go on long road trips. Even the challenging terrains beckon the adventurous riders and drivers.
Hence the popularity of motorsports and the craving for a venue that could satisfy all these enthusiasts’ needs comes as no surprise at all. The Oman Automobile Association founded in 1979 is Oman’s ultimate venue for all kinds of motorsports. It is directly affiliated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and hosts and promotes various activities including Rally, GoKart, Moto Cross, Classic Bike, and Racing Bike.
Oman’s gift is its terrain and hence rallying is one of the oldest motorsports in Oman that the OAA has tried to promote. The wadis, the rugged plains, the hilly patches and everything in between proves to be ideal for rallying, which is a form of motorsport that takes place on unpaved roads with modified and specially-built cars. According to records, rallying in Oman unofficially started back in 1970s when a bunch of enthusiasts took to the rugged roads of Oman but soon grew to become an organised motorsport to such an extent that the first Oman International Rally took place in 1979. Today Oman has a number of skilled rally drivers who have been participating in international and local competitions.
Drifting is possibly the most popular form of motorsport in Oman. The thrill, the rush, and the skills is what has lured Omanis towards taking it up professionally (which is legal) and otherwise (which is illegal) too. Drifting in a competition is not just about burning the tyres or letting your car skid randomly but involves a skilled set of repertoires that takes years of practice to perfect. In a usual drifting arena professional drifting has however skyrocketed in Oman after Omani racers and drivers started participating in the world-renowned RedBull Car Park Drift and especially after the prestigious competition was hosted in Oman. Omanis have flaunted their drifting skills and won the top positions in the contest. Some of the known Omani drifters include Ali Al Balushi, and Refaat Al Yahyai who will represent Oman in the Car Park Drift taking place in Kuwait this year.
Many of you who are into adventure and recreational activities would’ve definitely tried go-karting in Oman. However, the Oman Automobile Association is also home to professional gokarting and hosts a number of championships during the course of the season. There are races for various age categories and expertise levels and the tracks at the OAA allows people to train there. The Sodi World Series Endurance and the Rotax Max Challenge are the kart races that the Omanis participate in on a regular basis here in Oman.
Some of the stars that have emerged out of the Oman Automobile Association and made the nation proud include:
AHMAD AL HARTHY
This 36-year-old driver whose relationship with the OAA started at the age of seven when he was taken for go-karting has turned out to be a national hero who has held Oman’s flag up high on multiple championships in multiple countries. He set foot in professional motor racing in 2006 in Bahrain where he broke new ground as the first Omani driver to compete in formula racing. From them on, there was no stopping him. From single seaters to sports car competitions to endurance races, his career graph kept moving upward. Earlier this year, he won the coveted Pro-Am title along with his partner Jonny Adam making history and bringing Oman in the world map in the most prestigious way.
HAITHAM AL HADIDI
This young lad who won the RedBull Car Park Drift 2016 that was held in Oman at just 18 years of age, became a superstar that gained fans and admirers as soon as he started his career. The fact that he received his driver’s licence just months prior to his glorious victory amused crowds and on-lookers. The young drifter always loved cars and made sure he’d put his skills to test at the Oman Automobile Association by participating in the events he would be allowed to be a part of from a younger age. He has consistently proven himself as an ace drifter by securing strong positions in every championship after his first victory.
AL FAISAL AL ZUBAIR
Another young driver Al Faisal Al Zubair has already started making a mark in the world of motor racing. Like most young drivers he started with karts in both Oman and the UK and as soon as it was time stepped into the professional motor racing realm with prestigious British Formula 3 championship. He then went on to start racing in the Porsche Supercup in Europe and Porsche GT3 Middle East Championship for the FZ Racing team in 2017. —[email protected]sofoman.com
Ahmad Al Harthy
Haitham Al Hadidi
Al Faisal Al Zubair