• Love for speed & flying: Meet F4 driver Sneha Sharma

    A commercial pilot by profession and a Formula Four racer by vocation, 25 year old Sneha Sharma has the best of both worlds. Although all that did not come easy. She had to face her own set of challenges and roadblocks before she could be accepted at an arena that is seen as a predominantly male territory.

    “They did not like the fact of me racing. I had created lot of ruckus at home and eventually they came around because they have seen my performances,” said Sneha in an interview during a championship match in Coimbatore to NDTV. She also had to make initial investments in her passion, before her talent got recognized beyond her gender and she received sponsorships from her employers Indigo and JK Tyres.

    Sneha Sharma is one of the only 4 female racers in India at the moment. She has added 6 wins and 9 runner up positions to her credit in a short career span, which officially began in 2009. Before that, she trained with mechanics as she couldn’t find any trainers who would be interested in coaching a ‘girl’.

    The challenges of being the first woman in the profession in a patriarchal country like India was not easy. Not just to her contemporaries in the tracks, but also her own friends and family. “I have jumped walls, lied at home. Initially I carried a lot of books on the track, you also have to put extra efforts being a girl. I wasn’t allowed to go to a race once and lost some points in the championship,” she says to indianexpress

    Sneha Sharma is one of the only 4 female racers in India at the moment. She has added 6 wins and 9 runner up positions to her credit in a short career span, which officially began in 2009. 

    Even after being let in, her woes didn’t really come to an end. Managing the switch between her full time career that let her win her bread and butter and a passion that drove her was not an easy task. She had to give up all her weekly offs for the races. She hardly had any time to practice due to which she lost half of the races that she contested. It is one thing for a man to lose in a similar situation, but for a woman, she was sure that her already low chances of being accepted in this terrain were further reduced.

    She also had to keep up with the strong sexist intimidation by the men in the field. “A lot of drivers don’t like to lose to a female counterpart. There are quite a few incidents where they have passed me comments like you don’t know how to drive, just go back you are wasting your money. I wouldn’t take any names though, but very good drivers were among them,” says Sneha in her media interviews.

    But nothing was going to hold her down. From getting in to being accepted to being noticed, Sneha Sharma has come a long way. In the cockpit and the race car, she is not her gender anymore as nobody can see what that is. She inspires the women of our times to be strong and to never let a man show us what spaces we are ‘allowed’ to access and what spaces we aren’t. The earth belongs to us as much as it belongs to men, or dogs, or birds.

    Feature Image Credit: IndianExpress