Driving forward: First woman racer to represent India at Malaysian rally event

Life in the fast lane brings Anitha Kholay many accolades

Updated - December 01, 2016 06:39 pm IST

Published - October 18, 2016 07:47 am IST - BENGALURU

: Bengaluru-based actor, stylist and fashion designer Anitha Kholay is all set to be the first Indian woman rallyist to represent the country at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in Johor, Malaysia, which is to be held from October 28-30.

Declared the fastest woman rally driver of the country at earlier events in Bengaluru, Ms. Kholay, an alumna of Bishop Cottons Girls School and Christ University, began her career in rallying as a navigator at the age of 16, and was instantly intrigued by the sport. The ‘Miss Bangalore 1998’, who has been an Indian national race and rally driver since 2003, said she was elated, and added: “This is a stepping stone to aspire for greater heights, a milestone in my career.” An MRU Motorsports team from Malaysia is preparing her car, a Proton NEO 1600 CC, which will touch speeds of up to 120 miles per hour in the 3-day championship.

Long road to success

Recalling her hard work for over two decades, Ms. Kholay said she is brimming with pride to be representing Karnataka and India at the international level. “My husband, Rupesh Kholay, discovered the potential of my proficiency behind the wheel in 1994. I haven’t looked back, and crave to steer and zoom. My favourite rallies have been the K-1000, which is the Bangalore Rally, because I enjoy the terrain the most,” she said.

Nearly 50 medals gleam in her residence in Koramangala. “I started with two wheelers, then enjoyed being a navigator, and then hopped on to full-time rallying and racing. I even love my drag racing, and the defined path in the autocross race!” says Ms. Kholay, who couldn’t have asked for a better start. She was also the first woman to lead a national rally championship with a woman’s team in 2003, and she gradually gathered experience in the inner workings of motor sports to become among the most awarded women rally drivers in the country.

Passion for speed

“I won most of my racing and rallying awards from 1994-2011 in the ladies category. I took a break when I had my two children, and have been constantly taking part in national rallies from 2003, travelling mostly to Nashik, Chikmagalur, Hyderabad and Cochin, amongst other cities,” she said. She added that she relies on a “perfect support system” of a workshop and tuners to mind her car’s health.

What does the fastest woman driver behind the wheel think of her pace on traffic-jammed Bengaluru roads? “My city driving is customised with music for relaxing, which I enjoy. Race and rally fulfil my passion for speed,” she said. “As a woman, I try my best to disentangle myself from negative criticisms and drive forward.”

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