Society

Giving boys a tough time

Sneha Sharma

Sneha Sharma   | Photo Credit: 27dmc Sneha1

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Professional racer Sneha Sharma has proved that gender plays no part in success

Paradoxically she does not fear what others would on the racing track – death. On the contrary the Mumbai-based car racer Sneha Sharma states: “My biggest fear is not death but DNF: do not finish.” The fact that she was named as India’s fastest lady in Mercedes Young Star Driver programme speaks volumes about the lady’s grit, determination and confidence. Becoming the only youngster to qualify for the final round of the KCT of the MAI National Karting and get a spot as the only girl on the grid in the senior category at the JK Tyre Karting Championship has added feathers to her cap. She now is a regular contestant at different motor racing events and is at ease with competing with her male counterparts, shoulder to shoulder, pace to pace.

Having started young, Sharma has not kept herself confined to zooming on the track but hit the skies too. A trained pilot, who at present flies for Indigo Airlines, put her heart and soul in both her passions – driving and flying.

Edited excerpts from an email interaction:

What attracted you to racing?

I have always grown up around machines. My dad was in merchant navy so I used to sail with him as a child in the ship which was full of radars and machines, and that’s how my love for all these machines came. I did to go go-karting at an young age to a local track in Mumbai and driving a racing car came very naturally to me. I asked one of the mechanics to train me a bit as I did not have any background in it and started working on braking techniques. I started participating in all the events that happened on the track and the races organised by various companies. In one of the races organised by a media group, I was approached by National Karting Racing to participate in the National Racing Championship and that is how I came into this ring of championship.

How did your parents react to it?

My parents were not very keen initially because of the injuries but over time they realised my passion for racing. They wanted me to have a good career but now they understand that ultimately racing will be my career and my dream is to bring laurels for the country and fly the Indian Tricolour at the international level.

How do you cope with both flying and racing?

It sometimes becomes quite difficult. I had to plan a lot but it all depends on time management. I have my races and then flights lined up. Besides I have to practice a lot. I basically have no social life. Racing is physically demanding. The current kart which I am driving is 160 kilograms and there is no hydraulic, so everything needs to be done manually which requires a lot of physical as well as mental strength. I do power yoga to keep my mental balance and focus straight. I need good hand and eye coordination so I do rope skipping.

What challenges have you faced till now?

Being a girl I have been taunted a lot on tracks and been given a hard time by my fellow competitors. People don’t have that confidence in you because you are a woman and generally say you shouldn’t be here. Also, because it is really expensive sport, raising money and getting sponsorships is tough. At one time I even used to work part time with my team to earn a bit. Injuries are of course always a part of racing but I believe once the helmet is on I am nothing but a racer. When I am on the track I only see the finishing line and nothing else.

How do manage in the chaotic traffic on Delhi/Mumbai roads considering that you are racer?

One thing racing teaches us is that high speeds can be thrilling but only on race tracks. One has to be safe on roads. I exercise high level of road discipline because with high speed comes responsibility.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:51:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/professional-racer-sneha-sharma-giving-boys-a-tough-time/article7467080.ece

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