Khyati Mody : Racer with multiple hats

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Car Racer / Rally Driver

Major Accolades :
Representing INDIA in Asia Auto Gymkhana 2019.
Podium winner in South Korea round of AAGC 2019.
Multiple National Karting / Rotax Podium Winner.
Winner Of the Indian Leg of International Corporate Games.
Heat Stroke Rally Overall Champion.
Multiple category wins in Mumbai Autocross 2014,2015 and 2017.
Cross country rally winner.
Taj Agra Podium Winner.
Royal Rajasthan Rally Podium and SSS Champion.
Fastest Women in Karting Challenges & Mumbai Autocross.
Cross Country Rally Podium Winner.
Fastest Female In India for Rotax / Single seater and Rally Racing.
4 consistent Royal Rajasthan Rallies.
4th in StockClass and Winner of Coup de Dames in Desert Storm 2019.

Other experiences :
The only women to end the 50,000 mark to create an Indian National Record with Tata Motors.
Drifting in Rally cars.
Steward in Rally to Valley Womens TSD Rally.
Pan India Driving Instructor with Jaguar.
Track testing of Porsche 911 & Tata Motor cars.
Chief Guest and Flag off bearer of the Largest Women Rally in India.
National Level (Shotgun)Trap and Double Trap Shooter.

Some Questions:

You are the only woman from Mumbai to do cross country rallies. How can you describe your childhood and what personal inspiration led you to dream about racing? Tell us from the beginning.
I think it started from a young age probably when my first toy was a blue car or the feeling I would get even just sitting in a car with the windows down and feeling the gush of wind on my face and hair. My passion for cars was intensified through my young age when I would be watching F1 instead of discussing fashion or boys that girls my age were doing.
There was no looking back since the first time I sat in a go kart then progressing to rotax karts , single seater formula cars and now offroad cross country rallies.
I am one othe very few women in India and the only one from Mumbai to participate in extreme cross country rallies.

It all started when on a fine day I had bunked college once and gone to a local go karting track and learnt that the very next day there was a race. Without any racing knowledge I jumped to the opportunity and participated where I came 2nd on the podium. A national level
racer/team manager spotted me and he offered me a seat in national level karting. I participated in numerous national level gokarting , rotax races where I claimed multiple podiums and then I tried my hand at single seater formula cars.Due to work commitments I had to travel to UK and was off the circuit for almost 4-5 years.
The motorsport bug had never died in me. During one of the trip to India a friend who was organizing a rally suggested I should participate in it. Without any knowledge of rallies or terrain or even a car I went to Churu, Rajasthan. He organized a car for me and where I was the underdog and people were better that I would burn the clutch or get stuck. I proved
everyone wrong by winning the rally. Since then there had been no looking back. I have dominated the podiums in multiple rallies and autocrosses.

How did the first race feel like?
I was extremely nervous in my first race. I have claustrophobia so I hate
wearing a full face helmet. I had to beat that and wear a fullface helmet where I could barely breath. My heart was pounding so hard that I could feel every beat like a huge drumroll in my ear. I was a little overwhelmed during the line up so I had shifted all the focus on the red flag which once dropped would mean the start of the race. Once the flag dropped I started racing I don’t remember feeling claustrophobic and unable to breathe because I was so focused on getting the lines correct and apex that nothing else mattered. Those 15 -16 mins of the race I had blackened the whole world including my mind and focused on each corner as it was coming and then finally after the last lap board came the chequered flag. I still get goosebumps thinking of that first win and first chequered flag. I would give up anything to go back to that moment. Victory was well deserved. I could not stop smiling and being elated with pure joy.

You are only woman to cross the finish line of The Desert Storm 2019. What inspires your love for racing, cars and even Formula 1?
Yes , out of the 3 women I was the only one who managed to beat the terrain, heat and all the hurdles to cross the finish line. My inspiration during my younger days growing up was Michael Schumacher. My current rally inspiration is India’s best rally driver, Gaurav gill. It’s a treat to see him racing. I have sat with him for a few laps and he makes it look so easy and effortless that you automatically tend to do better.

You are the very first few professional female racer in India. What is like to be one in a billion?
It feels honored and yet a huge responsibility. Being a lady you are over judged and we need to put in double the efforts just to be taken seriously. Things are not always handed to us on a platter. From car setups , service ,protest we have to always be in the que.

How did your life change with racing tracks?
It gave me perspective. It made me realize what life is all about. I use to be a regular girl.
In early 20’s going to college, chilling with friend, parties , movies etc. But racing gave me a discipline and it changed my priorities. I started focusing on things that I truly wanted to achieve rather than just have a social life. It has taught me a lot about people,relationships , how to keep emotions under check and most importantly it’s made me the person I am today.

What did you learn from  racing ?
I have gained vision and a correct perspective. Given a chance I would have started racing right from my childhood but since I am not from a sporting background leave alone motorsports it took me a time to get into the sport. It taught me to keep my head high no matter how troubled the situation is. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes after every race. You have to celebrate the biggest of the victories and accept the gravest defeats which ensure further enlightenment. Racing has taught me to cherish every moment as it comes. It has taught me to hold on tightest to my dreams and let go of all the fears and insecurities.

How is the  racing  scene in India for women? Why isn’t it popular
among women here?

Participation of women has increased over the years which are applauding and a lot of credit goes to the women who love motorsports. It isn’t popular because of lack of sponsorships and the dangers associated with motorsports. We need government backing and more individual sponsors to come forward and support women.

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