As a kid, I didn’t know what I aspired to be. However, since childhood, I loved cars and speed,” says Mira Erda, the first Indian woman driver to have contested in the Euro JK series-FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India) National Racing Championship, one of India’s premier formula races.
Born to Vadodara-based businessman Kirit Erda (53) and homemaker Nima Erda (45), the 16-year-old was introduced to go-karting by her father at the age of eight. Upset on seeing a track shutdown in his city, he decided to take it on lease. “I desperately wanted to do something about the track as I’ve always loved speed,” says Kirit, a self-proclaimed ‘learner’, who picked up the nitty gritties of karting in a year. Soon he began teaching Mira. “She has good grasping power, you just have to tell her once or twice. Then she does it by herself,” says Kirit.
Post school, at 2pm is when she practises. “As there’s no race track in Gujarat, I train on a racing simulator,” says the teen whose role model is Lewis Hamilton. Then it’s gym time, followed by two hours of studies. When she’s free, Mira loves to read and play football. Mira’s brother, Vrajesh, loves racing too, but couldn’t get into it, “so he makes sure I live our dream,” says the twelfth grader.
In the initial days, Mira recalls finding it very difficult to get used to the formula car. “However, now I keep experimenting with and learning about cars, so it’s easy to adapt to different race cars,” she says.
Being the only girl in motorsport is expectedly a bit tough on Mira.But things have changed. “Drivers don’t see me as a female racer now. They’ve started seeing me as a racer,” says Mira, who was last year’s F4 Rookie Champion in the LGB class. For her father, though, the most memorable race was the 2012 JK tyre series, where Mira was leading in the first round even though she got disqualified on technical grounds. “She had to start from the last position in the next round, but finished.first! Motor sport is associated with boys. They don’t like being defeated by girls. But my daughter has been giving them tough competition,” chuckles the proud father. Of the 80 races she’s participated in, she has acquired podiums in 60.
Ten minutes before every race, she shuts herself off from her surroundings. “I meditate for sometime and then tell my kart, ‘let’s give our best’. I go to the track for the race after praying to God,” says the teen, admitting she has a lot of people to be grateful to. “My Malaysian mechanic; Richard Raj who’s always on stand-by; Akbar Ebrahim, my mentor for formula racing...they always make sure, I’m in top form and push me to give my best.”
The Euro JK series has four rounds, each comprising of four races. In the first round, last month, Mira stood 10th, 11th, 8th and 7th respectively. But despite having driven different cars in other competitions, she finds BMW’s FBO2 car series, used in the race, very different. In the next round, she says, “it’s going to be tough competition.” An experienced driver, we’re told by her father, finishes with this car in 1.00.6 seconds. “Driving it for the first time, Mira managed in 1.01.9 seconds.” She’s practising intensely for the other rounds - the second and third will be hosted at Coimbatore in August and September, and the finale’s in Delhi, in November. They expect to get podium.
Next year, she plans to participate at Asia-level or in European championships.
Source: DNA-6th August,2017