Motor racing legend Priya remembered | Daily News

Motor racing legend Priya remembered

Kandy’s motor sports community remembers, Priya Munasinghe who was a Sri Lankan Motor Racing champion,who dominated the regional Motor Sports scene of Sri Lanka and Malaysia from mid 1960s to 1977. A product of Ananda College where he excelled in cricket and long distance running, he held the public school 110 metre hurdles record for nine years. He died on 29 November 2001 (aged 60 years).

Priya Munasinghe functioned as the Secretary of Sri Lanka Association of Motor Sports at the time of his death; he was a past President and Vice President of Sri Lanka Motor Cycle Club and Up country Motor Sports Club on several occasions throughout the last 18 years. After retiring from active participation in 1977, he worked in the administration side of Motor Sports. Priya Munasinghe was a founder member of Sri Lanka Association of Racing Drivers and Riders in 1983. In 2008 the Annual Nuwara Eliya Road Races organized by the Sri Lanka Motor Cycle Club was held in association with the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council. That year there was a trophy in memory of late Priya Munasinghe.. It must be recalled he was one of the best exponents in Mini racing in Sri Lanka and he thrilled the crowds in the nineteen sixties and seventies and later played a major role in organising motor racing events and also in an administrative capacity as the secretary of the Sri Lanka Association for Motor Sports.

The Mini racing in Sri Lanka began in 1964 when Priya Munasinghe raced a standard Mini 850 in Katukurunda. At the time it would have been a curiosity to see this diminutive car dwarfed by the Ford Anglias, Peugeot 203’s, Fiat 1100 and Hansa Borgwards which were seen regularly on the race track at the time. Then, Priya made his Modified Production Car debut in the Mini Cooper S in 1969 at the Asian Road Race, which by the way was the only time they had a race meet at Galle Face - before the Colombo Night Races.

This was the race where the little Mini comprehensively beat its competitors; despite it being airborne after clipping a sandbag in the final lap Priya Munasinghe became a household name in the 1293 cc Mini Cooper beating cars that were way much more powerful than the Mini. Many of Priya’s challengers had cars with an engine capacity that was2 or 3 times the engine capacity of the Mini. He was born in Negombo, and at one time was a resident of Kandy at Aniewatte, During that time he gave a big hand for Up-Country Motor Sports Club and Kandy Motor Sports Club, with this writer as his secretary The other persons who gave a big hand were Maurice Perera., Ananda Krishnaratne, Donald Fernando, later Janaka Pathirane and few others gave good support.