International Women's Day Special: Celebrating India's first all women supercar club and the fabulous ladies behind the wheels
With International Women’s Day around the corner, we turn the spotlight on these dynamic women who are revving up the likes of Lambos and Bentleys, bringing much swag to this male dominated arena
Women behind the wheels of an automobile are not a novelty. However, if the vehicle in question is a purring red Ferrari or a growling black Bentley — then the dynamics change and we shift to a different gear. In this male-dominated hobby of driving and even collecting hypercars, we are indeed chuffed to change the narrative albeit with oodles of glamour and gumption added to the grease! In fact, with an exclusive all-women’s supercar club launched recently in Gurgaon, this Women’s Day we celebrate women from across the country who love their luxury wheels and have the likes of the Bugatti Chiron and The Rolls Royce Cullinan on their wish list. The ones who can take a Lamborghini from zero to 100 kmph speed in a jiffy on a dare or just for the sheer joy of it — or let’s admit it, just for the power of it! We talk to women from across the country who open up about their passion for super wheels and how the drives are priceless.
Delhi-based Ritika Jatin Ahuja launched the All Women Super Car Club (Queen’s Drive Club) last week, which saw 30 ladies from across the country participating. “This is to create a common platform for girls who love cars and to break stereotypes,” says Ritika, a self-taught driver, who has been driving since the age of 10. “My childhood also impacted this passion — in fact, we grew up in an environment where women were barely allowed to drive – or not encouraged to drive fast. My dad had an imported Toyota with butterfly wings and as a child I used to call it the flying car!” says Ritika. The Chief Operating Officer of an automobile company, Ritika cur rently drives a Bentley Continental GT and tells us that the Bugatti Chiron and The Rolls Royce Phantom VIII are on her wish list.
Chennai-based Vimmi Deepak Arjundas was invited to the Overdrive Winter Drive by Mercedes Benz in Gulmarg a few years ago. “It was a great experience — especially driving on snow. There were drag races too,” says the enthusiast who barely noticed that she was the only woman at the event that had 11 participants from across the country! “Besides the sheer driving pleasure, it is the beauty of these machines that has me hooked!” says Vimmi who is known for giving her time to numerous cancer awareness programmes while also running pharmacies and medical institutes. Brimming with positive energy and effervescence, Vimmi has often been spotted walking the ramp for luxury brands. However, this commerce graduate, who has a wide range of interests including water sports, travel, swimming and cycling, says that sports cars will always be at the top of her list. She reveals that her all-time favourite car is the Porsche Targa 4S. “In fact, I have tried driving the Ferrari but I thought that my Targa was smoother. The joy of taking out my Targa during the early mornings, down the East Coast Road in Chennai is priceless,” says the hypercar enthusiast who also admits that since she sold hers a while ago, it’s back on her wishlist. She currently owns a Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed W12, a Jaguar XF 3.0 litres, a Mercedes Benz e350d and a BMW 320d among others. Vimmi hopes that the supercar events will see more women participants this year.
Bringing glamour, skills and speed to this discourse is also Anitha Kholay, a well-known name in Bengaluru’s racing circuit. The rallyist and fashion designer — who stands out from the crowd thanks to her big, curly hair and easy smile — shares that cars have been a passion for as long as she can remember. “Even as a child, I loved speed and I loved cars. I admired fancy cars and often dreamt of them. During the initial days of my racing career, I was in awe of these amazing cars that I got to see and I somehow knew that someday I will own one of these high performance machines,” says Anitha. However, instead of one, she is the proud owner of three — the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Lamborghini Gallardo and Lexus SC 430. “The Subaru was my husband Rupesh’s dream car. It’s a pinnacle and any rally driver’s dream machine. It’s rare in India and we are very lucky to own one,” reveals the rallyist. “We bought the yellow Lamborghini because nothing can beat it, not just in terms of looks but also because it is the most powerful car I have driven. And the Lexus... I am in love with its pearl white body. It was chosen because it’s a hard-top convertible,” she adds. But what’s next on her list, we ask. “I am already living my dream with these cars, but the sky’s the limit and I feel my next one should be a red Ferrari Stradale, which would perfectly complement the cars currently in my collection,” shares Anitha, whose highest speed was 180kmph while participating in a drag race. Talking about her experience driving around the streets of Bengaluru, she says, “I drive my Lamborghini to the gym every day. We take our cars to the race track, drive them around like any street car, to attend parties and meet friends. We even take our friends for a spin regularly. They surely attract a lot of attention. People on the roads don’t really see who is driving them because they are busy taking pictures and videos.”
Director of a healthcare company in Hyderabad, Soniya Gilada discovered her love for cars quite early in life. She has been passionate about them ever since she was in college. “I loved driving cars even as a young girl. Driving to college everyday gave me a sense of independence and empowered me in a way. I remember it was a Swift Diesel, the first version of the car, before Suzuki did a facelift. Even after 15 years, it remains one of my favourites,” she shares. Speaking of the supercar community in Hyderabad, she reveals that it is actually a fun place to be. “The community, over the years, has become a safe space. Everyone is respectful about my opinions and what I bring to the table. I am glad that there has never been any kind of discrimination here. We are a bunch of car enthusiasts and all we want to do is talk about cars,” she adds. Soniya, who drives a Mercedes Benz AMG GT R, tells us that one day she wishes to own a Lamborghini Huracán Spyder and a GTS Spyder.
Meanwhile, another Hyderabad-based enthusiast, Sonam Klair’s love for supercars started more recently, thanks to her husband. He was the one to introduce her to this world of speed and exciting engineering. “Driving my BMW Z4 gives me the utmost happiness,” Sonam shares. She also shares a fond memory of visiting the Rajasthan Supercar Drive last year. “It was perhaps the most thrilling experience I ever had, to see so many hypercars!” Her wishlist includes a Lamborghini Aventador and Sonam adds, “Who knows? I might add a few more to this list in the future.”
We catch up with digital creator Prerna Gupta, also based in Delhi — who reveals that she would love to add The Rolls Royce Cullinan to her collection — tells us that supercars give her, “so much power!” She confesses that she loves driving around in her BMW Z4 and that it is high time we give up on the notion that only guys like driving fast cars. “We have to leave behind that stereotype! Work for it, girls! They are totally worth it. After all, why should boys have all the fun?” concludes the 31-year-old.
Inputs from — Rashmi Rajagopal & Suchitra Behara