As a banker at ABN-Amro, Ashish Gupta, co-founder of Cougar Motorsport remembers craving for adventure a lot of the time. “I was always passionate about motor sports, but I wasn’t able to pursue it while I was working. So, we decided to fill the gap by starting something for people who enjoy driving but are never able to execute their plans.”
Cougar Motorsport, which was started six years ago in 2009, creates adventure trips for those having all-terrain friendly cars, at a cost of ₹100,000 per head. The cost includes food, drink, entertainment, safety and the works. Each of the trips – also known as ‘dashes’ – span across terrains within India that are the top of any road junkie’s bucket list. The Himalayan Dash, lasting 11 nights, starts in Delhi and traverses through Shimla, Manali, Leh, Khardungla Pass, Dras, Kargil and ends at Srinagar. The Desert Dash sees enthusiasts making their way through the sands of Rajasthan for four to five nights. During the course of the trip, the road trippers network amongst themselves and entertainment such as folk musicians and dancers are arranged for the end of the day when they rest in hotels.
That said, the aim of the trip is not sightseeing or fulfilling tourist wishes. Gupta says, “Our target audience, who are between 40 and 60 years are not the kind who want to go to these places for sightseeing or travelling. Our audience takes motorsports seriously. We spend most of our time on the road and plan our routes in a way that the drivers end up travelling on roads they have never been on.” Besides this, the team from Cougar Motorsport escorts the drivers along the planned route and it’s not just a matter of ‘getting from point A to point B’ for them, according to Gupta.
Besides the aforementioned dashes, they also offer a run through some of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the country. It is for those who like to live their life on the edge but spend the night in a Taj Safari lodge. One route that is on Cougar's wish list is a trip across India’s west coast. But, that’s still some time away as Gupta says the appeal for a Konkan trip is still not as much as that of the roads of the Himalayas or the rugged terrain up-north. The main challenge that remains is that there is no repeat value to the trip, so they’re always looking for the next journey to take their adrenaline junkies on.