Bani Yadav got into Motorsport racing in the year 2013 and owns the crowns of multiple track events and cross country rallies. She has been doing various formats of rallies including Circuit Races, Cross Country Extreme Races, TSD events and IRC rallies. Holding the coveted title of the fastest woman driver in IRC Asia cup in the year 2015, Bani is an inspiration to women empowerment, equal rights and gender equality enthusiasts. Read her delivering words of wisdom to our folks at ScoutMyTrip.
How did it all start? Where did Bani and Biking first meet?
Racing is a passion which runs deep in my blood. My inspiration has been my father who was a really good & fast driver in his young days. I grew up watching him and picked up the nuances by seeing him. My motivation has been my husband who pushed me against all odds to achieve my dreams. The support of my two sons in my journey has been unconditional. The men in my life have been instrumental in my reaching out to fulfil my passion. My mother has been my Rock of Gibraltar who has unflinchingly been my support system and has always inculcated in me, the power to believe in myself.
What were the obstacles faced by you in pursuing this passion?
Most Indian parents are typically paranoid of their daughter’s marriage and mine were no different. Racing is a dangerous sport and accidents do happen. The very idea that it is not safe made my parents keep me off the racing scene, although I never had the restrictions on driving or driving fast but racing or rallying was really not the most common or popular as a sport 30 years back. So I really never got to kick off my racing side. Marriage happened and it came with its own share of responsibilities. My Husband Suresh made sky the limit for me. I have been able to soar because he was grounded and was taking care of the responsibilities. They say that once you become a mother, even if you are 80 year old, a mother will always be concerned about her children, as a mother responsibilities never end, but my sons have been extremely supportive and are completely hands on, they have ensured that they can manage everything on their own. My children gave me the freedom as a mother to pursue my childhood dream.
How does it feel to be where you are today and what do you see when you look back?
I believe in an old saying “Have a life which is well lived, when you go away, leave your impressions on the sands of time”. A sense of achievement is definitely there, very few people actually get to live their dreams. I am one of the few lucky ones who is living her dream. The past has been a teacher, I have learned and evolved as a person and become stronger, resilient and determined to explore myself and what life has to offer. Each day is a new beginning and I am eager to explore it.
How have these achievements helped you in your life?
Achievements are just a benchmark to perform better, to improvise and to evolve. The learning process never stops, it has to be continuous. There is still a lot to achieve, life is too short to sit down and relax. One has to keep moving on at a breakneck speed or life will pass you by. I always want to keep the door open when opportunity knocks. Till you take the first step, the journey will not start. I want to be running and not walking in this journey called life.
Being a wife, a mother of 2 and a corporate employee; how do you manage all of this and yet find time for your passion?
Time is always at a premium. I try to take out 48hrs from a day and not live by the 24hrs routine. I start my day early and juggle between the priorities. I am driven by my need to do more and more. There is never a dull moment. Even relaxation comes in bits & pieces. I still have so many things to achieve that whenever I go away, it will be with my boots on! I am yet to open a driving school especially for women, am yet to open an animal farm for the stray, deprived and sick animals, have to keep empowering women through the NGOs that I am part of. I am passionate about what I want to do and that keeps me going full blast, juggling between my roles of a daughter, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, corporate professional, a rallyist, an animal rights supporter, a women’s right supporter and the most important one being me.
What message would you like to send out to all the women out there?
You have one life, live it well, so that when you look back there are no regrets of missed opportunities. A lot of women get bogged down by responsibilities, social taboos, family life, but remember, till you make an effort to actually believe in what you want to do or be what you want to be, nobody else will support you or help you. A woman has to first learn to believe in herself and her power to change, only then the family, society and the world will start looking at things from her perspective. Nothing comes on a platter and neither are we all born with a silver spoon. We have to rise from the grassroots and prove our identity. It is never too late to start. In the Indian motorsports, there are very few people who would be my age or elder to me who are still actively driving, so age is never a factor or an excuse to not start living your dream. Grab your opportunities with both hands as they don’t come every day. Women specially need to start the process of exploring themselves, and living their life, nothing will change till they take the first steps and show their determination. We might falter but if we are willing to stand up again and make the effort, things will start falling into place and then it is a blank canvas for us to paint.
Also check out our interview with D K Chauhan about the All India Road Trip with his friend where they covered 46,000+ kms in 500+ days.