Sneha Sharma loves the sound of the engine. “It almost syncs with my heartbeat,” she says. “The negative g-force you feel while racing is amazing. Also, it’s one thing to push your own body to its limits -that’s what most sports are about. But when you are pushing a machine to its limits you have to become one with it.”Sharma, a race car driver as well as a professional airline pilot, is surrounded by fastpaced machines all year round. Even as a child, she sailed all around the world with her seafaring father. Her passion for flying and racing has always existed side by side. In fact, she got her first break in one of the national racing teams while pursuing her flying course. Even now, she manages to keep both machines close to her heart, helped by the fact that the airline she works for – Indigo – co-sponsors her for the Formula 4 National Racing Championship. On first glance it seems like everything fell into place for her but the fact is that this balance was achieved through a lot of hard work.In the beginning, she faced a lot of resistance from her parents who argued that car racing was a dangerous sport.Also Read:How this professor is making women feel great about their bodies”I was pursuing my flying course side by side,” she says, “with my passion for racing. I used to fight with my parents to go for the races, and I had to hide my helmet outside. I had to lie and go for my practice sessions. It was difficult, but when they saw how much I loved racing and how I was fulfiling my other commitments as well, they came around. And now they support me.”advertisementDuring those initial days, she used to go all alone to the racing competitions. Sharma even took her study materials with her, to make sure that her marks didn’t suffer, and read them on buses and even on the side of the race tracks. She had no prior training in racing cars – the whole enterprise had begun when she was about 15 years old – but she was passionate.Photo: Mail Today “When I was a teenager, I heard of something called go-karting in the neighbourhood and went and tried my hand at it. I was never the kind to try regular things so I tried my hand at go-karting, and ended up loving it. I spent all my free time there, and asked the mechanics and marshals to teach me. They didn’t know much but I paid them out of my pocket money and whatever knowledge they had about racing they imparted to me. Soon, I began participating in all the races that were held at the track in Mumbai,” says Sharma.In time, she secured a podium finish in her first Rotax rookie race and recently in 2014, secured a lap time of 40 seconds at the 11th JK Tyre-FMSC National Karting Championship.The best thing about these races, be it go-karting or Formula racing, she realised, was that men and women could compete on the same platform as equals. There were some who criticised her still.”A lot of guys didn’t like losing to a girl,” she says, “so they would try to insult me and tell me that I didn’t know how to drive. Sometimes they would try to push me off the track. But I didn’t let the insults affect. And now, nobody dares to say such things,” she concludes.