No matter the division or the faces comprising the large fields of any motor racing events, there are numerous stories that accompany the heroes of the track. While some have relatively easy pathways to success, others often struggle for years until they experience the absolute highest moments of their careers. Women might not always have it easy, but not much could prevent Mumbai-native Samantha D’Souza from tearing up the dirt and asphalt across the country and set the trend for aspiring female racers yearning to take the wheel.
Racing for the first time in 2015, Samantha discovered early on that she had a penchant for speed and competition, allowing her to break through various competitive events, and against the odds, with her driving skills. Having surrounded herself with cars and motorsports for as long as she could remember, it was all just a matter of working towards her goal to become a racer. “The speed and thrill while riding a motorcycle gives me a different kind of happiness. Whenever I feel low or happy, I usually talk to my bike as I wish and I know that my bike will reply to me. Riding gives me eternal happiness. There is nothing that can be compared to that happiness,” said Samantha.
A hallmark of femininity in a male-dominated sport, Samantha is the country’s fastest female drag racer. Her perseverance and the will to win was second to none, opening the door for scores of women to get behind the wheel. Clocking 13 seconds in the drag race, head to head with men, Samantha has broken records no one had ever broken before. So, who said it’s a guy’s sport? “The society does not accept women racers, to be honest. The fact that I was a woman and I took up drag racing was totally frowned upon. People would say, ‘You will have to get married, there is no point doing it’, ‘racing is not for women to pursue’, ‘Ladkiyo wale kaam kar yeh bike sub chod dey seekhna, tera drag mein kuch nahin hone wala hai’…and it continued. But I loved riding bikes, and there was no way I could stop it,” she acknowledged.
In 2017, right before an important race at the Valley Run, Samantha was involved in a horrible car accident that caused her bike to go off the track. The bike disintegrated around her, causing bruised legs and hands. “It was ugly. The accident happened only 15 days before my race at the Valley Run. I was broken from inside but I still raced. I soon realised that I was suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I didn’t race for a year after that. It wasn’t too easy to make a comeback,” she recalled. When asked why she kept going back to the track, even after all those crashes, her never-giving-up fighting spirit unmistakably shines through.
Samantha absolutely lives the sport through the passion of a fan and the heart and soul of a racer, high-spirited and confident about achieving her aspirations. “My height is only 5 feet, but I have never let that be a weakness. There are people who made fun of me and teased me whenever I rode. People believe that height plays a vital role when you want to learn to ride a bike. But I strongly believe that if someone is passionate about learning to ride a bike, they will be successful at it,” said Samantha.
And today, Samantha remains a symbol of indomitable spirit and is a reminder of a glamorous time when new speeds had yet to be reached. In the shadow of other equally fierce competitors, against the adversities, and with so much ground to cover, Samantha rightly serves as a guide for future generations. Remember, challenges can be overcome, records will be broken, and none can stop you to become a trendsetter for motor enthusiasts everywhere.