How it feels to be India’s fastest woman racer? Ask pilot Sneha Sharma
She loves speed, and that love brought her to the racing track. Meet India’s fastest woman racer Sneha Sharma, who is also a pilot with Indigo Airlines. Sneha’s love for the sport developed at the age of 16, and it was then itself, she was sure about the career she will choose.
My mother took me go-karting when I was 16 to a local track in Mumbai called Hakone (it no longer exists). I remember that she was worried about my safety. I wasn’t. I like speed, always have, said Sneha Sharma.
Sneha’s initial journey through the track was not at all a smooth one. Even her parents were not convinced about her career choice. But Sneha never gave up and continued pursuing her dream career. She used to carry her schoolbooks along with her, to the karting track. It just took two weeks for her to have the quickest times at the karting centre. When Sneha could not find a trainer, Sneha paid her pocket money to the marshall (mechanic), in exchange for some education on cars. Eventually her hard work paid off. In a sponsored race, where she secured a podium finish, she was asked to join the Rayo Racing national championship team. It was again a tough decision for her since she was in 12th standard, but Sneha decided to join them.
People in the country are more focused on cricket, but I am seeing a change, and more appreciation for racing.
Sneha hopes to travel to Germany next year (under 60 per cent sponsorship) for the ADAC Cup. She was invited this year, but could not make it because of her job. She believes the drivers abroad are (comparatively) far superior in terms of experience, facilities and support, and it is essential for an Indian driver to travel to gain some ground.
Sneha Sharma earned the tag of India’s fastest woman racer in the Mercedes Young star driver program in 2009. Sneha was one of the two women competing at the Formula 4 event, held earlier this year, where she secured the 11th position. She will also be participating at Formula 4 on November 26 at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida.
People don’t like a girl on track, they hate losing to one and they don’t like your presence there. If there are two or three racers involved in a crash, then other racers would pass sexist comments and discourage you. When somebody tells me you cannot do something, it pushes me to do it even more, says Sneha Sharma.
Since racing is an expensive sport, it is very difficult to get sponsors. Sneha remembers when she cleaned cars to earn some extra cash, because the money she gets from her parents was not sufficient. Today, she is the only Indian driver to be sponsored by JK Tyres and by Indigo Airlines. Moreover, being a pilot, she can now finance herself very well.
Sneha’s fitness regime includes swimming, badminton, running and power yoga, apart from the gym. Sneha wakes up as early as 3 am and avoids any forms of sugar or aerated drinks. Sneha Sharma has learned a lot from the track and never to forget the lessons life has taught. But the most important lesson she learned is – success always happens outside the comfort zone.
Image Credit: deccan