Mr and Mrs Racer: In a first, female drives in Cholistan rally

 

It started out with Tushna Patel being her husband’s navigator. But Roni Patel’s passion for car racing proved infectious and rubbed off on her too, eventually. This year, Tushna was the first female ever to participate in the 9th Cholistan Jeep Rally 2014.

675780-TushnaPatel-1393273727-175-640x480 This Parsi couple from Karachi enjoys the fast lane, literally. The couple has a 12-year-old son Meherwan and a 10-year-old daughter Dina.

Tushna, in an exclusive talk with The Express Tribune, commended her husband’s passion about driving jeeps. She said that her spouse had participated in several jeep rallies, and after their marriage this passion transferred to her through her husband.

This was not Tushna’s first race experience. In 2007, the 40-year-old racer had participated in a race held in Karachi in which she got the first position. She also competed in December 2013 in Jhal Magsi where she clinched the 4th position.

Tushna competed with several male drivers during the qualifying rounds this year, and got the 7th position in this year’s Cholistan Jeep Rally. She drives a Vigo 3000cc and competed in Category B.

For Tushna, this is just the beginning. She aims to prepare even more rigorously for next year’s jeep rally and is very confident. “By the grace of God, I will definitely get a position in the coming jeep rally,” she said. Roni seconds her ambition. He said that he was satisfied with her performance. “Watching her performance made me feel that in next year’s rally she will definitely get a position.”

675780-RoniPatel-1393273752-510-640x480Referring to a question about her life partner being her leader, she said, “He is not my team leader. I am. I help him out in every way. If anything happens to Roni’s car during the rally, I am the first to rush to my husband’s assistance, even without the administration’s help.” Tushna also manages the 40 men crew which was there along with them during the rally.

Praising her husband, Tushna added that Roni as a life partner is very humble, cool-headed and caring who takes care of his family. This explained how the couple is able to work amicably as a team and pursue their  passion, as well as balance their other responsibilities.

Apart from her passion for driving, Tushna is also running three branches of the “Wendy school system” as principal. “Despite a busy schedule, I manage my family responsibilities well. Roni is very satisfied,” she said.

Roni Patel, 50, told The Express Tribune that he is passionate about driving and has been driving since 1979. Roni shared that his wife being part of his team makes him very happy. “

According to him, Tushna is an active participant, and during his rallies she would view the track early morning before the race and give him advice and feedback. By doing all this, she developed the urge to participate in races too. “She wanted permission to participate in this year’s jeep rally which I happily gave and especially modified a Vigo 3000cc for her to compete in the rally,” said Roni.

Asked how Cholistan rally could be turned into an international event, Roni said, “We have to follow international rules and get rid of political involvements.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2014.