Interview: Actress Manisha Kelkar, 'I want to promote Motorsport so well, that if a girl has a dream she should get into it and she should know how to get into it.'
Ahura Racing made the headlines by deciding to enroll an all-women team for the JK Tyres National Racing Championship. They spread the word for a talent hunt and after careful contemplation, selected a bunch of six girls to represent them at the competition.
The six girls created history in India by entering the JK Tyre Racing Championship as an all-women’s team and they participated in the Formula LGB 4 class.
Indian actress, Manisha Kelkar, was one of the six chosen and has turned out to be the face of Ahura racing. Speaking to Sportskeeda, the celebrity driver spoke about the experience of racing a Formula car, female participation in motorsports and more.
Explaining the selection process for a seat at Ahura Racing, Manisha said, “There were entries from all over India, out of which sixty were selected. Those sixty were trained for just two days. From that six girls were selected and I am one of them.”
Kelkar further added, “The selection was held at the track in Coimbatore [Kari Motorsport Speedway]. The sixty of us had to race and the best-timed six got in.” The girls, then, underwent a three-day training which comprised of them just having a go straight away in the Formula LGB F4 cars.
Elaborating on her training plans after the race, the celebrity said, “I am still learning. We have four months of racing so whenever I’m going to get time, I’m gonna go-karting. There are some places in Bombay which these people are gonna tell me. There are two driver coaches, team owner, Sarosh Hataria, who is a three-time National Champion, and Rohit Khanna. They are pushing me.”
The Indian actress was ecstatic about the selection, terming ‘driving a Formula One car as a childhood dream’. However, the whole affair required Manisha to make a few changes in her busy schedule to be made possible. She elaborated, “I had a question in front of me, what to do about my shoots and dubbing? I called my producers, directors, please give me these dates [for the race]. It’s a lifetime opportunity.”
The celebrity driver admitted to having no prior racing experience, even going so far as to say she had never been to a racetrack before the whole affair. She disclosed that, “My dad was very fond of cars, different race cars and he was a writer. Ram Kelkar. He was my inspiration to drive cars, and he taught me. I am doing this for him.”
When asked about the experience to drive in a national championship, Manisha responded, “Killer!, amazing, can’t express in words. I’m an adventure junkie but I don’t think anything has thrilled me so much.” She even expressed a desire to continue onto a higher formula championship, saying, “I’m dreaming right now, my eyes are on the BM( BMW powered Euro JK 18 cars).”
Kelkar revealed that she had racing jitters initially, stating, “I was nervous and excited at the same time. It’s like exams. Once the lights went off, it was easy. When we are in shoot, it’s the same.”
The Maharashtra based actress is looking forward to more female participation in motorsports. “I want to take this forward, get more girls involved. I want to promote this so well, that if a girl has a dream she should get into it and she should know how to get into it.”
She also confessed to cheering on for a fellow racer, Priyamvada Saradhi, claiming, “I call her my ‘priya vada’. She is a winner and I want her to win. She is a very good driver, she has been training for years now so I feel she deserves it.”