WIAA women’s car rally: 87 participants awarded

Awards ceremony of the 'Women's Rally to the Valley' in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Express photo by Dilip Kagda)

Three days after the 'Women's Rally to the Valley', a women's car rally that saw over 400 participants, 87 participants were awarded during a ceremony at a suburban hotel on Wednesday. The rally is hosted annually by the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA).

The rally from Worli to Aamby Valley near Pune, which was held on April 7, saw more than 400 women participate, driving 127 cars and taking up the roles of race officials and marshals.

"Our first ever rally was hosted in 1904 from New Delhi to Mumbai. We had entries from even the army, navy, airforce and police," said chairperson of the rally Smita Dandekar, adding that the next edition would be held on March 8, 2020. She said it would be a national championship, with the rally starting from five cities.

A buoyant cultural performance was spearheaded by Indo-fusion violinist and vocalist Sunita Bhuyan. WIAA executive chairman Nitin Dossa was present at the event.

A team led by Deepa Damodaran and Ptiyanka Videsh won the prize money of Rs 1 lakh, while the first runner-up - a team led by Pradnya Chavarkar and Parul Shah - bagged Rs 50,000. Prize money of Rs 25,000 went to the team of Vinisha Singh Sawant and Ayoshmita Biswas, the second runner-ups. Manisha Gaind and Malu Gupta's team was the third runner-up, while the team led by Kala Chandrakant Soni and Himani Sharma emerged the fourth runner-up. Mallika Rai and Neha Khendelwal's team was the fifth runner-up.

The teams 'Bina Shah', 'Butterfly' and 'Army' won the first, second and third prize respectively for the best-decorated car. The teams which won for the 'best message on a car' were 'Stop acid sale', 'oral health' and 'women helpline'. 'Protectors', 'Virangana' and 'Muse foundation' scored prizes for the best theme on a car.

Prizes for best slogan on a car went to 'Find your wings', 'Bahut ho gaya sehen' and 'Am rough, I'm tough, I'm enough'. The prize for youngest driver participant was won by 19-year-old Anvita Sabnis. The oldest rally participant was 80-year-old Katie Bathena. The award for most popular team on Facebook went to 'Sheroes'.

Sneha Sharma, a racing driver who competes in Formula 4 National Racing Championship, addressing the women, said, "Each woman is a superhero as they have to juggle so many roles including a mother, daughter, wife and professional driver. When I started racing, I faced hurdles such as gender bias, lack of family support and financial constraints. I'd like to urge women to pursue the field of their choice."