For a venture which started out as being little more than a group of friends who decided to take their cars off Kuwait’s roads and down to Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit, the Gulf Run has matured into an annual event that has touched more than just the motoring world and its participants.
Having this year moved from its traditional timing towards the end of the year and to a new slot towards the end of January, preparations for the sixth edition of the Gulf Run are now well under way. We met with Gulf Run founder Ahmed Al-Mudhaf to look back over the first five years, and to get a small taste of what lies in store for 2011.
It’s likely that the entry list will be capped at around a level of fifty cars once again, according to Ahmed “It’s around this level that we can balance the spectacle of these great cars and still guarantee that there is enough track time for everyone to have fun”.
Gulf Run isn’t (officially) all about racing. Ahmed and his fellow Gulf Run organisers have been keen to keep the competitive element to a minimum. But as we know, when you get two guys in fast cars next to each other at a set of traffic lights there’s bound to be a rise in testosterone levels. Imagine dozens of cars and drivers on track in Bahrain.
Ahmed accepts this, and knows it would be foolish not to, so instead the organisers take a different approach and have ensured that all driving is undertaken in a fully-informed and as-safe-as-possible manner.
Around the world every ticket you buy to a motor sports event has the words ‘Motor Racing Is Dangerous’ stamped on it. It is likely that the two guys at the traffic lights will think that the same thing doesn’t apply to them. There is little doubt that an experience at the Gulf Run brings an improvement in awareness to all of the entrants - to experience speed and to understand the responsibility which this speed brings with it is a liberating sensation.
That the Gulf Run has truly taken on board a passion for responsibility is visible also in its support of local charities.
Earlier this year the Gulf Run - its entrants and members of the public who visited their car show at 360 Mall - raised several thousand dinars for the Hayat for Helping Cancer Patients Charity.
This form of social responsibility is an element Ahmed is keen to continue. “For sure we’ll continue supporting local charities, perhaps we’ll spread our net a little wider and take in newer charities too for 2011”.
The Gulf Run has become about so much more than the track days in Bahrain. Not only is there the public car show, but there are also get-togethers for the drivers prior to the event in Bahrain, and also a gathering and prize-giving event post-Bahrain.
“In all the event lasts more than three months from start to finish”, explains Ahmed, “and people with a shared passion meet each other under circumstances that wouldn’t normally arise”.
The first five years have established the Gulf Run firmly in the psyche of the Kuwait public and with careful management this is an event that will continue to grow.
There is ample demand for more places, and it is now for Ahmed and his team to carefully develop a plan for expanding the Gulf Run without losing the essential essence of fun, camaraderie and (whisper it) competition.
Ahmed has plans for the expansion of the event - plans that he is not quite ready to divulge - but when he does we’ll make sure that Men’s Passion readers are amongst the first to know.
A mark of the status the Gulf Run has attained is visible through the number of cars being driven on the roads of Kuwait with fake ‘Gulf Run’ stickers adorning their bodywork. Whereas bootlegging of Versace, Louis Vuitton and Burberry is to be expected these days - the counterfeiting of Gulf Run stickers comes across as slightly more surprising. Nonetheless Ahmed takes this as a compliment. Well, what else could he do?
The logistics of organising such an event are not easy. Taking fifty cars from one Gulf country to another requires an inordinate amount of paperwork. Getting them there and back - undamaged - is a challenge not lightly undertaken.
That the fifty drivers can do this without giving a thought to the effort involved is a credit to Ahmed and his team. For Ahmed the key to the Gulf Run’s success has been two-fold: attention to detail while organising the event, and every entrant’s passion for the sport and dedication to having fun.
Another vital element, and one without which the Gulf Run could not continue, is the generosity of their sponsors. The Gulf Run has been solidly supported by Wataniya Telecom, Wataniya Airways, Agility, CCC, Dentexpress, Slider Station, Al Sawan Travel, Credit One, and Watan TV.