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Speed Racer Bani Yadav: I love my Red-Devil

  • JWB Post
  •  January 19, 2015


Talking of the hard-core races where mean machines are throttling up and down the tracks, we think ‘Can a woman do this’? Women are always imagined being delicate, clearing chores or decorating the living room.

But NO! There are audacious women like Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick who put such stereotypes aside and set milestones for men to keep them wondering. Our Jaipur’s Janet is Mrs Bani Yadav, mother of two sons and winner of the multiple Desert-Storm Motor rallies, including 2015 one.

At the recent event ‘Royal Rajasthan Rally’, she shared her experience and told us how she left men gasping while leaving them behind on the race course.

JWB – What brought you to the Motor-Sports?

Bani – I always liked speed-racing, and I got my first experience when I was merely 13 years old. Being a girl, I used to get scolded by parents as it was a ‘Manly’ sport.  They were scared of crashes and injuries. But I never let go of my passion. After I got married my in-laws carried on my parent’s duty of restricting me from pursuing my dream.

JWB – Then?

Bani – My Husband! The credit purely goes to my husband. He motivated me to chase my dream. He pushed me when I was afraid. The sole support was and is my husband, and now my kids Karan Rao and Arjun Rao, who have also grown up to be speed-racers.

Bani Yadav and her son Arjun Rao

Bani Yadav and her son Arjun Rao

JWB – Amazing! So you were ready to rock on, where did you show your skills?

Bani – At Jaipur Speed Sprint in 2013! I started as an amateur and ended at 2nd place in the rally. The first win at my first race got me thrilled. And I knew ‘This is it.’


JWB – So this wasn’t just the hobby as they said, it was your Passion.

Bani – Yes! Totally.


JWB – Who was your inspiration behind this?

Bani – As a child I had fun driving fast, but eventually I got to know it must be a safe drive too. To me inspiration is all about improvising yourself. And you know how the perception about women driving is. (laughs) So, along with better driving I thought to prove people wrong. I wanted to tell them that women were not bad drivers. They just panic too easily.


JWB – True! This is a general perception. But how does it appear on the race track? How do men look at you behind the seat?

Bani – There is no enmity as such, but yes you receive different vibes. You will find some men help you, or probably show some sympathy thinking you are lesser than them at the competition. But then again some will encourage you; applaud you for your efforts. So, generally there is always a healthy competition.

JWB – Who is your fiercest rival?

Bani – Everyone is my rival, men and women both. And the fiercest rival is ‘I’.  I always think of bettering the past me and setting records for myself.




JWB – And your companions for your record?

Bani – I own a Pajero, a Gypsy, a Polo and a Swift.

JWB – Which one is your Mean-Machine?

Bani – I love all of them. But I really, really and really love my gypsy. She has been my buddy forever and has never ever let me down.


JWB – And you call her?

Bani – The Red-Devil. (Smiles).

JWB – It’s a die-hard sport. Have you ever got injuries?

Bani – The toughest time of my life when I got spine injury in October 2013. I went through two back surgeries. Minor surgery was in October, and then major one was in December. It took me 6 months to get back to the healthy body. As soon as I thought it was all good, I got back on the track.

JWB – You are so zealous about driving. Ever thought of going on a long drive alone?

Bani – Every now and then. Well, I work in the Director’s Office at Airtel. Every weekend is a holiday for me. And every alternate weekend a trip is scheduled for me.


JWB – What’s your next stop?

Bani – Ummm! Well I am always confused between the Himalayas and Rajasthan for travelling. I have explored almost every part of both the places, and still I am not finished with it. Next destination could be Dakshin Dare or Raid de Himalayas.


JWB – And three things you carry in your beauty kit for your trips?

Bani – Kajal, Kajal and Kajal! Nothing else. Not into cosmetics (smiles)

JWB – And apart from driving, what else you love doing? Do you have any secret talent that no-one knows?

Bani – (laughs) Secret Talent? Well, I love to stay quiet, exploring myself, like how to be a better me. I love listening to people who knowingly unknowingly always help you with their advice. For me, it is always best – to get and learn from piers and seniors whatever they have experienced in their life.

JWB – This is a great advice too. We must try to be good listeners. Any message for our ladies?

Bani – The biggest lesson in my life was my surgery. So, I would suggest that women must listen to their body. Please do not ignore your health by just taking a Penicillin or Saridon. Respect your body and stay blessed. And for female-drivers and racers, people get bugged out watching you drive. So, it’s fine. Even if you are short of support, keep the spark alive. Don’t be scared just be confident.

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