Those magnificent women and their mean machines

Those magnificent women and their mean machines

Dressed in green driving suits, a group of 10 women smartly pose for the shutterbugs present at the Buddh International Circuit. They are doing exactly what the cameramen have been asking them to do – to jump in the air and shout or stand besides a track car just like in an advertisement shoot. They look and act like models, but they are ‘Lotus Ladies’- a one-of-its kind band of women drivers in the world.

Recently in the Capital to participate in the JK Tyre Ultima Cup event, these girls are bubbling with excitement and happiness after a wonderful performance in the Ultimate Queens Race. They are a team but when on the track they all are rivals. “We all are friends but things are different when we are on the track,” says Sheila Veeschuue of Netherlands, who won the first of the Queens Cup.

On her first visit to India, Sheila can’t stop talking about the Buddh Circuit tracks. “The track is beautiful but I have only one problem: In our country we sit on the left side while driving but here we have to be on the right side,” she says.

So, in preparation of her Indian sojourn she devised an easy way to get accustomed to it. “Whenever I went on a drive with my boyfriend, he would handle the steering and I would change the gears. I practised this for almost a week or two to get used to it,” says Sheila, who has been passionate about driving since she was sixteen.

 “I have grown up watching my father and brother who are also track drivers,” she says. But this wasn’t enough. She knew she had to mould herself differently, even be a more disciplined person. “I don’t drink alcohol except on occasions and only if it is a weekend. I have been strictly following the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ regimen, to ensure that I remain the best in my profession.

Her efforts no doubt have paid off in every race she has participated in. But she has bigger motto in life. “It’s always a pleasure to compete and win but more important for us is to show the world how serious we are in making a mark in a sport that has always been dominated by males,” she says.

Apparently, things were never easy when the group came into existence some three years ago. Adrienn Bend, the leader of the world’s sole women's only team says, “In 2011 when I put forth the idea of having a women’s driving team, people didn’t believe me. I knew that I had to prove myself.”

Adrienn, who is also a former Miss Hungary says, “when we can have a separate girls team in basketball, hockey and other sports then why can’t we have a women’s car racing team?”

“I formed a team of women who are not afraid of motor races. Initially, people did not take us seriously. But when we showed them our grit and got licence from the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body of motorsport worldwide, people’s outlook towards us changed.”

But Glory Fernandes, who has been a track driver for almost a decade says it is always a different experience to compete with males. “When it comes to competition, men’s ego is huge. Women are also competitive but the fight is restricted to the tracks, they don’t take it to a different level,” she says.

Sharing her experience, Glory says, “Men used to bully me. They used to say you cannot stand in front of us for a minute, forget about winning the race. But I knew I didn’t have to pay heed to their words. Every time I win a race, I feel it’s my reply to their male
chauvinistic attitude.”

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