There is always a first-time, and for the first time ever, Kashmir now has its first woman driver participating in Kashmir’s Snow Car Rally.
Sharmeen Mushtaq Nizami is set to become the first female driver from Kashmir to compete in ‘Frozen Rush 2’, the country’s only snow auto-cross.
Sharmeen, 40, a doctor by profession and mother of two, has been driving for the past 20 years, and aims to become a source of inspiration to other aspiring women in the valley.
“If you have it in you, and you are provided with a well-structured platform to show your skills, then you must give it a try at least. Perhaps in the future we will have a team of Kashmiri female racers too.”
The rally will take place on January 20 and 21, and would be held in Gulmarg in north Kashmir, around 53 km from Srinagar.
Located at an altitude of above 8000 ft, Gulmarg is a popular destination for skiing lovers and temperatures can dip as low as minus 10 degrees. The region receives about 10-12 feet snowfall every year, making driving around the hilly area a risky job.
Sharmeen, however, is confident about the event as she has been practising during her off duty hours, and has support pouring in from all corners.
“My friends, family have been very supportive of me and are excited about the event,” she says.
Farah Zaidi, organiser of the rally, said that this year, 50 car drivers will participate in the event, and so far Sharmeen is the only female participant who has registered for the event.
It will be a time-based lap race, and the track circuit is 1.25 km. Each car is allowed two laps, and the races will be held from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Sharmeen says she is optimistic about the event, and adds participating in the race is a dream come true for her. She adds that if one has a passion for something, they shouldn’t miss an opportunity to pursue it.
“Getting behind the wheel gives me a thrill, and participating in this event is like a dream come true for me,” says Sharmeen.
The first edition of the Frozen Rush took place last year on January 21, and had 38 participants competing. The event is being organised by Kashmir Off Road.
Sharmeen says a many of her close friends and relatives have been associated with the Kashmir Off Road Club, Kashmir’s off-road, adventure and motor-sport outfit, and she has been following the motor sporting activities of the group since its inception.
“If you have it in you, and you are provided with a well-structured platform to show your skills, then you must give it a try at least.”
Sharmeen is hopeful that in future more Kashmiri female racers would break stereotypes and participate in such events.