For 23-year-old Nilasha Das, who is the youngest driver of the Himalayan Drive 8 sponsored by JK Tyre, racing is something that happened organically. A post-graduate student of English Literature in Shri Shikshayatan College, Kolkata, she started driving just a year ago.
Participating in three races before this, which by her admission, is not a lot, Nilasha finds herself navigating the challenging terrains of the Eastern Himalayan Region. Accompanying her is her mother, Ipsita Das, who is playing the vital role of the navigator, which is the final round of the (Indian National Regularity Run Championship (INRRC) 2021.
Participating in the all-Ladies category of the Himalayan Drive (A special category introduced to promote the participation of women in rallies), Ipsita and Nilasha qualified for the race after finishing first in the Eastern Zonal qualifiers.
Sportstar had the chance of catching up with the mother-daughter duo as they compete as a pair for the first time in the Himalayan Drive.
What prompted you to take up racing?
Nilasha: My father, Nirmalya Das is a veteran racer. So, racing has always been a part of our family. I have grown up seeing my dad participate in many rallies. I got my license just a month before taking part in the Haldia Rally (third round of the Eastern Zone qualifiers).
Which specific factor about rallying do you find the most difficult to cope with?
Nilasha: The driver and the navigator always need to be in tandem with each other. The Himalayan Rally is a TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) where the navigator needs to be constantly communicating. So it is important to maintain a very good connection between each other. Listening to her instructions while driving, then comprehending them and applying them to the terrain is something that I find challenging. Maintaining the time also becomes tricky at times.
Does the job get easier competing as a family? Also, are there any cons to it?
Ipsita: The good thing about competing with my daughter is that communication is effortless at times. Also, her [Nilasha] knowing me personally, makes it easier for her to react in tense situations because she knows how I am or how I might react in certain situations.
Have you ever had a scary encounter in your racing career?
Ipsita: I can’t recall having anything of that seriousness in my career. I started navigating with my husband. I can remember one time in the Koviguru Rally in Kolkata I was navigating my husband and the back of the car skid and we went off the course for some time.
So maybe that but that is nothing much. However, now when I navigate with my daughter at the wheel, there is a fear that I always have about her safety. Be it when she is racing or practising on the various types of terrains, as a mother I can't help but worry.
From learning to drive just a year ago to professional rallying- how did the transformation happen?
Nilasha: My father is the main reason. “ Babar khub support ache” (My dad supports me a lot in everything). He is the person I look up to and is my main inspiration behind deciding that I want to rally.
Is it tough sometimes dividing between the personal and the professional given the nature of your relationship?
Nilasha: No, we have never had the problem of mixing our professional and personal relationships. We have a very clear-cut understanding of that.
Ipsita: We keep having our squabbles- the kind mother and daughters usually have. However, our understanding is so clear, that if we have a disagreement in our personal life even a day before a rally, that won’t come between us when we are racing. So that is very important I feel.
The writer is in Murti by the invitation of JK Tyre.
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