Joginder Singh was already lionised as The Flying Sikh and Simba wa Kenya (the lion of Kenya) during his lifetime. Patrick Njiru, probably Kenya’s most talented African rally driver was once asked by a journalist who his earliest inspirations were and he swiftly replied: “Joginder Singh.”
Joginder was a rare breed whose appeal lay in a sublime neutrality so that the millions who loved him – people who lived in mental ethnic and racial cocoons – didn’t see a Sikh or an Asian; just a motoring superman. The profundity of this quality was such that it needed no words to propagate and few of the multitudes who were enamoured of the Flying Sikh ever heard him speak.
He let his driving do all the talking, winning the Safari Rally three times. His most memorable run was a 16th place finish (but third on the road) in 1971 after he had dropped back to position 115 after a losing and repairing a gearbox.
Ashok Bhalla, who once navigated him said: “Joginder never forgot a bend.” He drove around it once and memorised its details – sharpness of angle, gradient of terrain, type of surface and all that. Next time we went there, he took it at the maximum speed possible. He combined the roles of driver and navigator.”