Mira Erda: Motorsport for women still growing in India

Mira Erda, India's first woman racer in the Euro JK Series, spoke on a variety of topics in a freewheeling chat with Sportstar.

Mira Erda: Being consistent and always working on our driving skills is the most challenging part.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

One of the very few women racers in the circuit, Mira Erda, has taken giant strides in the sport. Last year, she became the first Indian woman to compete in the Euro JK Series, driving a BMW — the highest level of single-seater racing in India.

Ahead of the national racing season, Mira has her hands full. Her engagements this year include participating in the JK Tyre National Racing Championship, comprising five rounds in Coimbatore and Delhi along with testing in Europe or London. The Vadodara girl also plans to ply her trade in some off-road rallies and karting.

Mira, a Red Bull athlete, spoke on a variety of topics in a freewheeling chat with Sportstar.

How has it been climbing the professional ladder (from karting) in motorsport?

It has been a great learning experience. Initially, it was obviously, very tough, but I always took it in a positive manner and kept going and doing things to improve myself and change my driving techniques overall.

According to you, what is the most challenging part of motorsport?

I would say being consistent. Because once you start performing well, it becomes important to maintain that level and get better than that in the next race. Sometimes many of us do well in a few races and then, the performance suddenly drops. So, being consistent and always working on our driving skills is the most challenging part.

Share with us your experience of racing in the Euro JK series.

Driving the Euro JK series was fun overall. It's a dream come true because I saw the same car in Malaysia in my first year and told myself that one day I'll drive these cars. I worked hard for that and I got the results when I got to do a full season in that car. I would say it has been the best learning year for me.

Being the first woman racer from India in Euro JK Series was a proud feeling. I look forward to seeing more girls taking up racing. It does feel really good to become the first female racer in the Euro JK series, competing with the champions (the drivers here are winners of other championships) and that is something really really big for me.

Where does motorsport for women stand in the country?

Motorsport for women is still growing. Any sport needs a first person to take up that sport as a career plan and in India, parents want their children to be successful but in the right and conventional field of work.

It's all about the choices you make and adhere to. My father started a karting track and that's what led me into this sport. There are so many inquiries which I get about how to get into racing, there are many young girls and women who come to my track often to drive and enjoy the sport.

Are you happy with the support provided for women in the sport? What else can be done to improve and create more opportunities?

In the Indian context, I am both happy and sad as we can see very few women are interested in the sport. This can be attributed to lack of knowledge about the sport and also many of them don't get a chance to try because of less support from their families and less infrastructure.

Being a part of Red Bull Catch Up, I am really hoping that the women karters take this opportunity and come down to race. Such events need to be organised more often all over India, wherever there are tracks, so more women can get opportunities.

How far away are you from moving abroad for professional racing?

I always take it step by step. My target right now is to get as much experience as I can in India and then look at the South-East Asia Championships / British Championships and European Championships. Also according to the budget we have in future, we'll decide what's next.

How tough is the single-seater racing getting? What is the most important factor a racer needs to keep in mind before the race?

Physically, overall body strength is needed for a single seater race. Most importantly, our core is focused upon alongside our shoulders, neck and hands. But the body stamina is a must when it comes to racing as it requires consistency. All of it helps in improving driving and handling the car, especially while going into the corners at high speed.

How do you prepare yourself for a race?

I prepare my body by putting that extra mile while training - on the gym or on the track - but I always keep myself motivated by telling myself that I have come this far and I need to get better no matter what the situation is. Even while training, just to improve my strength and mental fitness, I keep pushing myself even when I'm not in the best mood.

Is there any routine you follow to increase your endurance? Do diet and nutrition play a role in your fitness plan?

Yes, to increase endurance, I do work a lot on my stamina and do a lot of high altitude cardio sessions. The diet, of course, plays an important role in my fitness plan because that's what helps my body to catch up with the workouts I do.

How difficult or easy is to get sponsorship for testing? What is the main point that sponsors look for when agreeing to a deal?

In India, it's very difficult to get sponsors for racing because of people's mindset - they think motorsport is only about street racing. But we're slowing starting to get exposure and people are getting more knowledge about racing, so it's a good sign. The sponsor, for sure, looks at the potential in the racer too.