AS THE Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) put finishing touches to preparations for the Women’s Car Rally on Sunday, participant Sneha Sharma looks to deliver a strong message. “I want women to feel confident and empowered after this rally and I look forward to more and more women participating in it every year,” she says.
Sharma (28) is a race driver and pilot by profession. “I was just about 14 years of age when I used to love riding my sports bicycle really fast,” recalls Sharma, who then graduated to go-karting at age 16. “I would save pocket money to race on the go-karting track and go as often as possible,” she adds.
Her career in aviation has helped her fund her motor-sports career. “Flying, too, is an expensive career option and nothing came easy for me,” explains Sharma. “I took loans to pursue flying lessons in the United States after which I was lucky to get a job at a major airline,” she adds.
Having never received any formal training in racing and motor-sports, Sharma learnt from the mechanics on the go-karting track, going from strength to strength, finding sponsors to further accelerate her journey.
On the way, she faced many hurdles. Sharma recalls being told to give up the sport. Many male racers even told her she didn’t know how to drive. “I face this even today,” she says.
One of the first woman racers to break into the international racing circuit, Sharma, known as India’s fastest woman racer, finished second in the opening round of the highly competitive MSF Series at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia last month. On Sunday’s car rally, Sharma says, “I am going to be the lead car to be flagged off at the rally and I look forward to seeing all the other woman participants and officials at the venue.”
The WIAA Women’s Car Rally will be flagged off from Worli in Mumbai and end at Aamby Valley near Pune.