CHENNAI: Ever met a bike racer who's never owned a bike? Shruthi Nagarajan is 22. She's been riding since she was 12. And a couple of weeks ago, she placed second in the Formula Junior Racing Series. But the engineering grad tells us, "My parents only allow me to take the bus or train when I'm travelling around the city. They are always worried I'll have an accident!"
Thankfully, despite sneaking out her uncle's Passion Pro even before she hit her teens, she's never had so much as a skid or scrape. City Express catches up with Chennai's newest female face on race track who talks about everything from how to swerve around overly protective parents to putting the brakes on any prospective grooms that take the buzz out of her Vroom...
If you don't own a bike, how did convince your parents to let you race?
A friend of mine told me about this one-day course with the Honda Ten 10 Racing Academy and I really wanted to go. So I spent a long time convincing my dad that this was something I wanted to do. And in the end, they both said okay because after all it was just a one day thing. The same weekend I took part in my first race (Smiles)
What's your dream bike?
A Kawasaki Ninja 300 cc.
You've been riding for a decade, but racing only two months. What have you learned so far?
Oh so much - how to skillfully take a turn, gear and braking techniques... I've also started spending some time in the garage because every racer needs to understand the mechanics of his or her machine.
How does it feel to be a woman on the racing circuit?
It feels great. I've received so many Facebook messages from guys who have told me they wanted to do this but couldn't, wishing me all the best for my career. Plus all credit goes to my coaches Sarath Kumar, Vinoth Kanan, Srikandharaja and Ramji Govindarajan, who are all male.
It must be limiting to practise without a bike of your own though...
No I think it depends on the rider. My days off the Sriperambadur race track are spent doing other things to build up my abilities. I swim so I can be weigh less and fly faster, and I gym to up my strength so I can handle my machine with more control. I'm planning to introduce cycling into my exercise routine as well.
Everyone knows that racing is an uber expensive sport. Can you break it down for us?
It's crazy expensive - low-end helmet (Rs 20,000), gloves (Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000), riding suit (Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000), boots (Rs 20,000) and let's not forget training sessions — each one costs Rs 15,000.
Also, did I mention the entry fee for every round in a race costs Rs 2,000?
So yes, any kind sponsorship would be a huge help!
So zeroes don't scare you. Speed doesn't scare you. What does?
Marriage. Racing is my dream. I could never give it up for a husband or in-laws that don't support me.