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Car Rallyist Bani Yadav Breaks All The Speed Limits That The Society Sets For Her

  • IWB Post
  •  January 30, 2017


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!

Bani Mathur Yadav, is proving everyone wrong. A car rallyist, Bani is amongst India’s fastest women drivers and the only woman In India to win all major Rally Titles in a year in India. She is also a Motorsports promoter and is an active social rights activist.

Bani recently completed the 6th round of National Autocross Championship 2016-17 held in Mumbai as the “Fastest Lady Driver” of the event in the qualifying rounds.

And, now she’s all set for the Desert Storm 2017 in which 200 rally enthusiasts from India and abroad will be participating. It’s a seven-day extreme event under which the rallyists have to cover a distance of 2,100 km from the National Capital Region to Jodhpur.

Here’s a throwback to our exclusive conversation with Bani Yadav where she talked about passions, hobbies, family, and much more:

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.

IWB: 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 considered 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.

IWB: Then, how did you resolve the opposition from the family?

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

IWB: Amazing! Tell us about your first car rally!

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!’




IWB: What inspired you to take up this “manly” sport?

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 of women driving is. *laughs* So, along with driving good, I thought, “Why not prove people wrong.” I wanted to tell them that women were not bad drivers. They just panic too easily.


IWB: True! This is a general perception. Have you faced sexism on the road tracks?

Bani: There is no enmity as such, but yes you receive different vibes from different people. You will find some men helping you, some will 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.

IWB: Who is your fiercest rival?

Bani: Everyone is my rival, men and women both. And the fiercest rival is ‘I.’  I always think of improving myself every day and setting new records for myself.



IWB: Tell us about your collection of motor vehicles. 

Bani: *laughs* I own a Pajero, a Gypsy, a Polo and a Swift.

IWB: Which is your favorite amongst them?

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. And, I call it the Red-Devil. 


IWB: What was the biggest roadblock you had to face? 

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 gain back my health.

IWB: Do you go on long drives, alone?

Bani: *laughs* Yes, every now and then. Well, I work in the Director’s Office at Airtel. Every weekend is a holiday. And, so, I schedule a trip for myself, every alternate weekend.


IWB: Three things you carry in your beauty kit for your trips?

BaniKajal, Kajal, and Kajal! Nothing else. Not into cosmetics! 

IWB: Do you have any secret talent that no-one knows?

Bani: Secret Talent! Ummm… Well, I love to stay quiet and explore myself. I love listening to people who knowingly unknowingly always help you with their advice.

IWB: What message would you like to convey to our readers, especially women readers?

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 may 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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(This article was first published on January 19, 2015.)

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