Ten rally dynasties in Kenya
Monday, May 3rd, 2021
Aged 22 years, Hamza Anwar last week managed a commendable fifth position finish against some established rally drivers in the country during the ARC Equator Rally in Naivasha. The fact that Hamza is the son of Azar Anwar, a Kenyan motorsports legend, send Edwin Otieno on a quest to unearth other rallying dynasties in the country.
Phineas Kimathi was a celebrity in his own right during his rallying days. In 1999, he gave Hyundai Motors of South Korea its first world title, the Safari Rally Formula 2 title.
Kimathi later spearheaded a campaign that regained Kenya its longstanding lost WRC status. His son McRae Kimathi, named after the fallen British legend Colin McRae, has already started showing promise.
He finished eighth overall during the recent ARC Equator Rally in Naivasha. Two years ago in Meru, he savoured his career best fifth in the KNRC.
McRae has also has a stint in the Autocross Championship. He currently leads the KNRC Division 1.
Kenyan rally history could actually not be complete minus a mention of the Rai family. Onkar Rai and his elder brother Tejveer Rai are currently calling the shots on the KNRC front with podium positions.
Onkar Rai became the first man to register a hat trick of wins at Nakuru Rally . Their cousins Rajbir Rai and Amaanraj Rai (who took part in Equator event for Uganda) have also captivated the racing scene.
Rajbir father Sarbi Rai won the Kenya National Rally Championship twice in the early 90s.
Azar Anwar is the most prominent of the Anwars. Azar is a three times Kenya Champion and an outright Safari Rally winner in 2006 with his navigator George Mwangi.
His younger brother Asad Anwar was also a driver of national repute. Asad was revered for his antics on twisty sections and indeed a master of special stages.
Shazar, son of Azar is the most prominent Quad bike rider in the country after winning a multitude of Autocross and Rally Raid titles.
Hamza, another son finished fourth at the Tanzania Guru Nanak Rally last year and fifth on ARC Equator Rally last week.
In 2006, Asad Anwar racked up his maiden victory on KCB Mavuno Loans Rally in Nanyuki, toppling his elder brother Azar from the top of the KNRC table which Azar had virtually made his own.
Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo is the most prominent of the Tundos. He won five Safari Rally titles between 2004 to-date equaling Shekhar Mehta’s record of five wins.
Carl’s dad Frank Tundo has been rallying from 1972 to date, while Carl’s sister Natasha Tundo became the second ever woman to win a rally after Sylvia King. Carl’s mum Lynn Tundo was the first ever woman clerk of the course.
Lee Rose is the most accomplished driver in Kenya. The son of rally driver John Rose, he learned the ropes from their family farming background.
Lee was a motocross champion and eventually a Kenya National Rally Championships (KNRC) Champion.
Baldev Chager, the reigning Safari Champion and a multiple Kenya Rally Champion, is one of the four Flying Sikhs after Joginder Singh, Sarbi Rai and Manvir Baryan.
Chager is son of Daljit Chager who was motorbike circuit racer. Baldev’s sister Avinder navigated in the Safari Rally with Boldy’s very own good friend Kuku Sagoo. Avinder also tried her hand at go-kart racing at Solai track.
The late Washington Nteere (Wosh) was a regular in the KNRC. His son Ken Nteere who currently drives for Nanyuki Rally Team, hopes to keep the family fire burning.
The Pandyas of Mombasa
Pandyas of Mombasa have long been associated with Mombasa rallying and Corner Garage. Kamlesh and Paras Pandya are cousins and have seen rally technology morph through the years.
Kamlesh’s dad was a rally driver way back in the 70s and he was always there to give moral support to his son.
The Pandya siblings used to go to the African Safari Club in Shimo La Tewa to view rally cars . But Kamlesh’s involvement proper was with their youngest uncle Rajni Pandya from 1981.
Rajni started off his rallying career with John Gardner as his navigator in 1981 and then with legendary Supee Soin’s elder brother Jaswinder (Jessy). Paras is currently a KNRC Division One driver.
Don Smith is an experienced rally driver. He is best remembered for being the FIA African Rally Championship regulars together with his partner Bob Kaugi.
Don’s two boys Rio and Sean Smith are aspiring to follow in dad’s legacy. The Smith juniors participate in autocross.
The late Ben Muchemi, aka Baba Ciru, was a KNRC regular. His son Andrew followed in his footsteps. But Andrew Muchemi wasn’t as prominent as his dad.