Dr. Bani Yadav - The Woman Behind the Wheel
“While others my age would start to plan about their retirement; here I was, preparing for my first ever race on the track. ‘How is she going to compete with people half her age? Will her age catch up with the speed?’ said my fellow racers while they made fun of me on the track.
Little did they know that racing wasn’t a ‘hobby’ I picked up in my early 40’s. It was a passion that had driven me since I was 13. As a child, I loved going on drives with my father. He’d pace up the speed to give me that adrenaline rush. And that’s what ignited the spunk in me. So, at 13 I went and told him – ‘I want to be a racer.’ But, Dad was pertinent. ‘Racing is a men’s sport in India at the moment. It is too expensive a sport for a middle-class person. I don’t have the finances to send you abroad’ he said.
I wasn’t aggrieved. Rather I challenged Dad saying ‘One day I will beat you and many others on the tracks’. Entering Motorsports has been my dream since day 1. But, with every passing day, this dream of mine only took a setback. While the finances hampered me at first; marrying into an orthodox family and having kids diverted me further.
My in-laws followed the purdah system; they were never in support of my dream. But Suresh (my husband) held my back. Be it the injuries or the questions raised at my abilities, he was always there by my side. If it weren’t for his support I’d never find myself racing in the rally circuit at 43.
Initially, I did get a lot of ‘I’m sure it’s just a hobby. Let her race. She’ll stick around’. However, my performance on the field was the perfect answer to all those backlashes. I wasn’t there to stick around; I was in it for the long run.
From a 13-year-old who anticipated becoming a racer, to going on track at 43; it took me 30 long years to get there. Indeed, a lot of hurdles came my way. But, they couldn’t stop me. Because, there’s only one rule in the world of racing – Once you get behind the steering wheel, no matter what the odds are, you’ve gotta finish strong.”