Remembering our Dearly Departed

The first Mini Classic Rally this August is being held in memory of JS Vohra, who passed away during the most recent Safari Classic Rally in 2017.  Sadly, JS is not the only recent loss our close team has suffered in recent months.

Ashok Bhalla

Former Event Manager of the East African Safari Classic, Ashok Bhalla, passed away earlier this year following a long battle with cancer.

“Our lovely and kind Ashok passed away peacefully and without pain after a four-year, bravely-fought battle with cancer,” said Ashok’s family.  “He was a loyal, loving husband and a devoted, doting father and he will be dearly missed.

“Although we are so very sad he is gone, he leaves behind a multitude of beautiful memories that we will always treasure and a wonderful legacy in all that he did in his personal and working life, rallying adventures and through his many friends and his family – both immediate and extended.”

Ashok Bhalla first joined the Safari Classic Rally in 2007 as the rally manager.  A rally navigator in his younger days, Ashok won several championships in Kenyan rallying before moving into event management.

Through a career spanning more than four decades, Ashok oversaw some of Kenya’s most respected events.  He officiated as a FIA steward in all ARC rounds for more than thirty years and enjoyed a particularly strong bond with the Pearl Rally, in which he served as an FIA steward during the late ’90s and early 2000s.  Other career highlights included:

  • Chairman of Kenyan Rallies Commission
  • Clerk of Course Safari Rally
  • Event Manager at East African Safari Rally Ltd
  • Chief of Stewards Pearl Rally

Ashok’s passion for rallying played a significant part in establishing the East African Safari Classic Rally as a mainstay for international awareness of African motorsport.  “He was on top of everything that needed to be done and had a vast amount of knowledge in and around the industry, which he passed down during his time with us,” remembers Pipi Renu.  “We continue to benefit from his shared experience.”

“Mr Ashok knew how to maintain a balance between work and play,” says Darshna Shah.  “A strong personality, he commanded respect and gave the same in return.  We remember his strong presence and how his face would beam with pride when wearing his official rally shirt to the office.”

Ashok will be remembered fondly for his love of the sport and his commitment to cultivating a social and respectful environment.  We share our sympathies and send condolences to his family and many rallying friends.

Rushmi Bowry

We were devastated by the loss of our beloved Rushmi Bowry earlier this year (on right above, with Raju Kishinani, Henriette Jooste and JS Vohra).  Rushmi joined our group in 2007 and soon became the touchstone for all associated with the event.

Rushmi’s dedication to her work on the East African Safari Classic Rally came from a heartfelt passion for rallying.  Drawn to the sport by her father, she associated rally people with family; all of us felt as if we had been taken under her wing.

“Rushmi was more than a mother to all who worked with her,” remembers Darshna Shah.  “It is no surprise that rally officials and competitors often referred to her as ‘mama’.  Her warm loving nature was not restricted to her family; she dearly loved all who she connected with through the sport, especially her colleagues at Rally HQ. Their happy and sad moments were her happy and sad moments.”

Despite the pain of Rushmi’s illness, she always had a smile on her face.  Our rally mama loved life and lived it to the maximum, filling it with love and laughter.  We miss her warmth, the calm confidence in her voice and the comfort that her friendship brought, even when apart.  All of us at EASR cherish our memories of time spent with Rushmi and send deepest condolences to her friends and family.