A drive through Malaysia’s second capital and race track

I have long been a classic car enthusiast. As a Malaysian, I have often enjoyed the all-year tropical climate that comes with living in an equatorial nation as it is conducive to long-distance cruises and drives. My father and I made one such drive, visiting Sepang International Race Circuit, and the city of Putrajaya. 

Putra Mosque.

The two landmarks of this drive included two places that played a somewhat key role in my life: the Malaysian administrative capital of Putrajaya, where I once lived as a child with my family, and the Sepang International Race Circuit, which was meaningful to me as a car enthusiast. 

Replica of 1954 Jaguar D-Type. Last of its kind in Malaysia.

In the early 2000s, growing up in Malaysia, Formula 1 motor racing was a major attraction to me, and it was somewhat electrifying to know that our nation played host to the legends of the game. This included legendary drivers, such as Michael Schumacher, and Mika Häkkinen, as well as legendary race teams like Scuderia Ferrari.

Model T Ford.

We passed through the administrative center of Putrajaya City, past several key governmental agencies, on a long avenue up to the Prime Minister’s Office. Putrajaya, my dad informed me, was conceived to fulfill a similar role to Bonn in West Germany or Canberra in Australia, extricating government agencies from the extremely crowded capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The Prime Minister’s Office, known in Malaysia as the “Perdana Putra,” is a majestic and lofty green-domed building located across from the man-made Putrajaya Lake and the unique pink-domed Putra Mosque. The Putrajaya Lake was a sight to behold in itself, for the mere scale of its construction. I had the opportunity to cruise across the lake around 15 years ago, and certainly it provides for an immersive tourist experience. 

The Prime Minister’s Office, Perdana Putra.

The next stop on this trip was the township of Sepang, home to Malaysia’s premier race circuit. As an automotive enthusiast in Malaysia, the Sepang International Race Circuit has remained at the forefront of my mind in the time that this sport has been hosted here. I attended a race with my dad roughly a decade ago, and it was a remarkable contrast to be there on a quiet weekend when there was no incredible crowd from the race years ago.

British MGTD Roadster.

Arriving at Sepang was somewhat anticlimactic. In recent years, the Formula 1 sport left Malaysia, and Sepang Circuit lost a key defining hallmark, but still hosts auto and motorcycle races.

Austin Healey.

We headed into the visitor center and the Sepang Automobile Museum, which held a number of classic cars. Britain’s automotive legacy was well-represented, with a 1949 MG TD, a 1932 Alvis Firefly Tourer, an Austin Healey, and a replica Jaguar D-Type among the exhibits. As a classic car enthusiast, I was impressed by the high level of preservation at the exhibits.

Bufori Roadster.

  The museum was also dedicated to showcasing Malaysia’s contribution to motoring, including information on the domestic Proton and Perodua. It also showcased interesting Bufori models of cars, with a bright red retro roadster model. 

Outside of the museum.

Overall, I was glad that my dad and I made this trip, and it was nice to drive on the other side of the road after two years in the U.S. We left Sepang for home around the early afternoon. I was happy to see the home of Malaysian motorsport once again. Although Formula 1 may not return to Sepang, I still hope to see other races there in the future and even participate in a track day there with my classic Mercedes-Benz. Sepang remains the candle that will re-illuminate the chandelier of Malaysian motorsport. 

Entrance to the National Automotive Museum.

Mohnish Kananathan, Terriers Abroad Blogger

Mohnish Kananathan is a Terriers Abroad Blogger for The COMmunicator, writing about his experience as a graduate student studying remotely from his home in Malaysia. As an M.S Advertising graduate student, Mohnish has served in project management and account management roles in advertising internships. A passionate car enthusiast, he hopes to pursue a career related to advertising in the automotive industry. His hobbies include driving his classic 80s Mercedes-Benz 300SEL and watching Star Trek. He also has a beginner’s understanding of German.

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