The youngest Indian female formula car racer talks of how she found her calling
At 16, her love for speed and passion for racing has catapulted her to the status of being the youngest Indian female formula car racer. She stepped into the world of motor sports at the tender age of 9 and now, she has already completed 75 races including national championships. As she prepares for her twelfth standard board exams, she is also gearing up for her big dream, the Formula BMW races! RITZ is in conversation with the young and fearless Mira Erda, who is determined to set new benchmarks for women in motor sports!
Interview: Riya Sonny Datson
As a child, she loved going for long drives with her dad so when he built a go karting track in Vadodara, (her home town), she couldn’t wait to try her hand at driving. She was just 9 when her father noticed her deep interest for the sport and asked her if she wanted to take it up professionally. She was thrilled beyond words! Together they travelled to Pune and saw one of the national karting championship, after which, they went to Kolhapur to get professionally trained. “I had no idea that it was a male dominated sport but when I realised that I was the only girl, I wanted to go for it!”
From day one, her family always cheered for their young champ. “My mom and dad have always accompanied me for all the races and my entire family has been very supportive. They are very proud of my achievements and never miss any of my races!” she says fondly. “My friends however, never had any idea about what racing was all about. In fact, initially, they used to make fun of me but I was unperturbed. Gradually, when they started to understand the sport and realised that I was the only girl competing, they were excited for me and now, they don’t miss my races and they wait for me to share my experiences with them,” she says proudly.
Mira makes it a point to train on the simulator for two hours and work out at the gym for another two to two and half hours every day. “My biggest challenge would be to work on my strength and stamina. That’s very important as I need to compete with boys to complete 15 laps of racing. I tend to grow tired after eight laps and I am aware that I need to work on that aspect.” Mira says that meditation helps her to control her mind and stay calm. While in Vadodara, she always makes a visit to the Swami Vivekananda ashram, where she likes to spend time meditating.
“I am not scared of aggressive racing anymore. Over the last years, I have learnt when to be aggressive, when not to panic and to be in control.”
When asked about how she balances school and racing, she quickly replies, “It is tough handling both. I take my books with me when I am traveling. When I was younger, my mom used to help me with my studies. But now I manage on my own. If I miss classes during a race, I always make sure that I go for extra classes and make up for it. My school has also been very supportive. It is important for me that I score at least 60 – 70% for my exams. Since I am preparing for my 12thboard exams this year, I am working extra hard.”
“It feels really great to be the youngest Indian female racer!When I started racing, no other girl was into motor sports. So the guys would try to demotivate me, push me off the track and try to defeat me but I was determined to prove them wrong! I knew I had to focus on the race to perform well. I would try to fight back as I wanted them to understand that I meant to compete. Gradually, once I started winning, they started to see me as ‘one of them’! Sometimes it does get aggressive while on the track but off track we are good friends,” she explains. She admits that she has had a couple of instances when her peers hit her car, she went spinning and lost the race. “I am not scared of aggressive racing anymore. Over the last years, I have learnt when to be aggressive, when not to panic and to be in control. I am not scared to overtaking either, I think that’s my biggest strength,” she says confidently.
After winning the National and Rookie championships, her biggest dream, the Formula BMW cars has come true. “It is best feeling ever to be able to drive the formula BMW cars. I started dreaming about those cars from the time I started racing. I have worked very hard for this.” Her dad is her biggest inspiration. She says it was his dream to be a racer and when he knew that she had a passion for the sport, he motivated her to chase her dreams and reach this far. “I look upto Lewis Hamilton, I love the way he drives and the way he controls his mind and takes everything in a positive way.” Any fears? “When I get in the car, I forget everything else. Initially, yes I had my apprehensions about how my racing would turn out but now, I have overcome it and I really have fun and give it my best,” she smiles.
“It is best feeling ever to be able to drive the formula BMW cars. I started dreaming about those cars from the time I started racing. I have worked very hard for this.”
On the wish list? “I think I need to go step by step. Right now, I want to improve, compete with the guys and do my best. I am looking forward to National level racing and the South East Asian Championships or the Formula 4 championship – that’s where I want to go next.”
- Star Sign: Scorpion
- Interests: Soccer, reading, love sports!
- Favourite Holiday: Explore the world!
- Fashion Mantra: Cool yet stylish
- Favourite Cuisine: Chinese
- Favourite Colour: Blue