Four Americans developed nerves of steel as they powered through India on autorickshaws to raise money for charity.

It is hard to believe that four twenty-something American finance executives would abandon their luxurious Dubai lifestyle and sleek tailoring in favour of racing through India's harsh summer climate, dressed in red boiler suits. Yet, that is precisely what Nate Ushio, OE Starnes IV, Jeff McMahan and Flynn Moffitt did, not only completing but winning the Rickshaw Run charity race, in aid of Mercy Corps, Frank Water Projects and Carolina for Kibera.

"Even the Indians we work with told us we were crazy," laughs McMahan, one member of the aptly named Winner Winner Chicken Dinner team, who travelled from Kathmandu to Pondicherry.

"The adventure, challenge and ability to creatively see India sounded like something that would take us out of our element," says Starnes. "The charity aspect, being able to give something back to the country that would give us such an unforgettable experience, was also a tremendous draw."

To generate attention for the campaign and raise money for the sponsored charities, the team held weekly 'curry training' sessions at Ravi's in Satwa.

"We had a big mailing list of people and everyone was invited to attend. At our last 'curry training' session there were over 30 people," says Ushio. To date, the team have raised in excess of Dh50,000, with large donations coming from their Dubai-based sponsors, which included UAE Exchange, Adventity and

Each team participating in the event had absolute freedom over the route they drove and the pace of their journey. "Basically we all wanted to do it [the race] as fast as possible," says Ushio.

Starnes says, "We decided to go straight down the middle of the Indian Peninsula, passing through Lucknow, Sagar, Nagpur and Hyderabad en route.

But this did mean driving on single-lane roads with potholes and trucks that seemed to drive straight at us. We did get two pieces of advice though; not to drive at night and not to use secondary roads and we ignored both!"

Listening to the team, it seems that navigating an auto rickshaw requires nerves of steel. "The main frustration was the total lack of traffic regulations," says Moffitt. "Every time we would become comfortable driving, something would happen to shock us into super-aware mode, such as a cow being hit by an oncoming bus right in front of our noses." While driving a tuk tuk, an abundance of patience is also essential. "With the constant stream of repairs to the rickshaws, we would not start driving until one or two in the afternoon" explains McMahan. "During the race, we replaced three mufflers, four batteries, two windshields, two roof racks and two transmissions."

"Of course, people were incredibly helpful," says Ushio. "En route to Jhansi, one of our rickshaws broke down at the side of the road. I drove the other one into the nearest town for help. By the time I returned, someone had already pulled over and rebuilt the carburettor for us." But even these frustrating events did not dampen the team's fervent spirit during their ten-day adventure in June of this year. "It was amazing the attention we experienced. SUVs would slow down and camera phones would be thrust out the window to take photographs as they passed us," smiles Ushio, shaking his head in disbelief.

"I can't believe that the police found it so funny that time we blasted them with the air horn," laughs Moffitt.

So would they repeat the trip? "Absolutely," they all declare resolutely. "Next time though, instead of racing and getting there a day ahead of everyone else with only 4,000km on the clock, I think we should zigzag our way across 6,000km," says McMahan while the others nod in agreement. "I have spoken to other friends who are now eager to do it also," says Starnes.

Somehow, I doubt this is the last we'll hear of the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner team. Perhaps, the waiters at Ravi's should be on stand-by.