Thiruvananthapuram-based Deepa S John one of three Indian participants in motorsport event Formula Woman
Formula Woman is a UK-based initiative that aims to bring more women into the sport
For many of us, kart racing or karting is a weekend activity. But for any motorsport enthusiast, it paves baby steps towards the world of racing and speed. Ask Thiruvananthapuram native Deepa S John, who entered the dynamic world of motorsport in 2020. Now, she’s one of the three participants selected from India to compete at Formula Woman, a UK-based initiative that aims to bring more women into the sport. Earlier, Deepa finished first in the women’s category and third in the open expert category on the national level.
An automobile engineer by profession, Deepa’s interest in hot wheels began while skimming through automobile magazines when she was 12 years old. She used to look up jargon and ponder over car reviews, company history and more.
“My father’s interest in cars influenced me to explore my interest, which might have gone unnoticed otherwise. My family supports my decision to join motorsports. More than racing, I was always intrigued by the technical aspects of an automobile. Frequenting go-kart tracks made got me hooked to the speed as well,” says Deepa.
Deepa started kart racing during weekends while studying in Chennai. “That is where I got to test out the concepts I studied in class. Professional racing never crossed my mind during those days,” she quips. Soon, Deepa and her friend, an aspiring racer, registered to compete at a kart racing event in Mumbai.
“It was just fun for me at that point. But soon, I decided to pursue racing seriously. I understood that I had a long way to go, but had faith that I could do well if I invest time,” says Deepa.
She started exploring high octane races and learned the unpredictability of motorsport from there. Slowly, she sped up, polishing her racing skill along with technical expertise. “Being good at kart racing will help with motorsports. Though it’s considered a fun activity, one needs to have control and patience to win a kart race. One of the competitions I attended in Vadodara was a big learning curve for me, though I finished third,” explains Deepa, who trained in two-stroke karting.
The international competition Formula Woman had over 800 entries. Only 50 got short-listed for the finals and Deepa is one of the three participants from India. “The top two finalists will receive sponsored training to race the McLaren GT4 car,” beams Deepa.
Let’s go, Kerala
Deepa has been practising basic kart racing strategies — the four strokes and two strokes — with her friends. “From what I know, though Kerala is a state with many automobile enthusiasts, it is difficult to get professional training in motorsports here. The state lacks facilities. But lately, a few kart racing centres have started surfacing. Changes are happening but slowly. Kerala has a long way to go,” says Deepa, who will be training at the Madras Motor Race Track.
Did you know?
Art Ingels, an American, is widely regarded as the father of karting. He constructed the first kart in Southern California in 1956 as a veteran hot rodder and race car function at Kurtis Kraft. The Rose Bowl Stadium parking lot hosted the first karting competitions, first step of a legacy.