S’porean engineer stays the course for 30 hours to win a Nissan in car challenge
About 17 hours into the Tan Chong Car Challenge, service engineer Chan Kok Seng nearly gave up, but he won out by keeping his hand on a car for 30 hours with the help of love and meditation.
It was not easy to stand in the sweltering heat for so long without losing contact with the car except during the stipulated five-minute breaks – and completing a raft of mini challenges that were part of the challenge. Only the love for his wife kept him from throwing in the towel.
Said Mr Chan, 56: “I was very close to giving up but I waited for my wife. I wanted her to see me. When my wife arrived at about 11am on day two, I felt rejuvenated and energetic again.”
When he felt his spirits flagging, he would meditate by slowing down his breathing and counting to 100. “It helped me to stay calm and focused,” said Mr Chan, who works in the ultrasonic product industry.
His efforts eventually paid off, and he took home a Nissan Kicks e-Power Premium Adventure Series car worth $105,300 without the certificate of entitlement. His wife was so happy that she cried, said Mr Chan, who has a 27-year-old son and a 24-year-old daughter.
He is the second-oldest person to win in the challenge since it started in 2002, when it was called the Subaru Car Challenge. The oldest winner was 58 years old.
The annual challenge – which was last held in 2019 – kicked off at 1pm on Saturday at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza.
In the past, participants were required to keep one hand on a car for as long as possible, and the last person standing would win the car. The record for the challenge in Singapore is 82 hours and 16 minutes.
This year, a series of mini challenges and a sudden-death round were thrown in for good measure, but the participants’ right hand had to maintain contact with the car.
One mini challenge called the “unicorn squat” required participants to keep their left arm raised straight while squatting at 45 degrees. Lose balance, lower the arm or fail to keep it straight, and they were out.
Mr Chan said he wanted to give up while doing the unicorn squat challenge. In the 30-hour span of the challenge, there were about eight mini challenges and six car swops, which required participants to switch positions in seconds.
Mr Glenn Tan, deputy chairman and managing director at car company Tan Chong International, said: “These games enhance the overall experience by testing not only endurance but also agility, flexibility and focus, creating a more comprehensive assessment of the participants’ abilities.
“Also, eliminating the monotonous aspects of the challenge ensures that it remains captivating and holds the spectators’ attention throughout the two-day event.”
Tan Chong International is the organiser of the challenge.
This is Mr Chan’s fourth time taking part in the challenge. His best record until now was 34 hours in 2018, when the challenge did not include mini challenges.
“While the previous years’ challenges needed very high endurance and participants lasted for days, the surprise element for this time round was very high because I did not know what games they would test us with,” he said.
Mr Chan said he practises taiji, a form of Chinese martial arts, every day, and sometimes does yoga and in-line skating.
This year, there were a total of 174 participants, mostly from Singapore, but also from places like Malaysia and Hong Kong.
In the first 12 hours, half the participants put up their hands to surrender or were eliminated in mini challenges and car swops.
After 24 hours – at 1pm on Sunday – there were just 40 participants left. By 5.30pm, only four men were left to duke it out – Mr Chan and Mr Qi Ji Tan from Singapore, and Mr Nguyen Doan Tho and Mr Do Dang Hoang Trung from Vietnam.
A make-or-break moment to decide the winner came when the four men were thrown the “bottle cap ballet” sudden death challenge at 6.47pm. They were asked to grip a 1-litre bottle of coconut water by the cap for as long as possible, with the left arm and wrist kept straight at shoulder height while the right palm stayed glued to the car.
Mr Chan eked out a win by lasting a few seconds longer than Mr Nguyen, 33, who held on for 100 seconds and came in second to win $5,000.
Mr Chan said the car he drives now has a little more than a year left before it hits the 10-year mark, so the unexpected win came at the perfect time.
He said: “This is a dream come true. After all, I did not manage to win during my first three tries. I’m so happy to get this Nissan and I am looking forward to driving it. I’m also very excited to share this with my family. My children can also drive it.”