With an incredibly strong automotive passion and love for speed, Phoebe Dale Nongrum is out to conquer the male-dominated sport of racing, as she becomes the first woman from the state and the region to be selected into a Formula LGB 4 team.
Thirty-year-old Nongrum has been inducted into the Ahura racing, a professional racing team, recently and she will be racing in different circuits in India.
Women still account for perhaps only one per cent of race drivers globally. Yet there is a hopeful prospect for women in Nongrum, who fuelled her love for speed and machines when she was 12 years old.
“When I was a kid my dad (the current DIG of the Garo Hills, Onesimuss Pasi) use to make me sit on his lap while driving and let me have the steering so I learn how to drive and it became my passion! So I have been driving for about a good 18 years now,” Nongrum said in an interview with Highland Post.
Nongrum shares her extraordinary journey, speaking about how she participated in her first street drag race at the age of 18 with her mother by her side. “My skills kept improving on the roads of Shillong as it’s a hill station, I learned my corner’s and turns on those roads. There were no tracks then so the road was all I got to perfect my skills,” she said.
Her love for the wheels never ended even as she left for Bangalore to pursue her further studies. She returned to the state and conquered the dirt track and won her first autocross.
Nongrum also co-drove at two National Rallies, the Arunachal festival of speed and the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) and took home the win.
Talking about the new opportunity she has at hand, Nongrum said Ahura racing is a professional racing team formed in 2017, owned and managed by Three-Time National Champion, Sarosh Hataria who has two decades of successful racing experience. He had held a talent hunt for women drivers for the Formula LGB 4.
“So I made it to the team of 12 girls and there will be four seasons of racing this year against the men. The selection was tough, I had to compete with 60 women and I made it to the first round selection of 24, then 12. Very tough fight! They judged us based on our fastest lap timing and I did a 1.23 that’s 1min 23 sec on a 2km track. Now I am part of this team and will be racing in different circuits in India,” she said.
Talking about how she found being a woman in motor racing which is considered a man’s world she said, “I think women can equally run the world. For me personally, I don’t believe it’s a man’s world. I believe I can do what most men can and I believe in the limit of the mind.”
Asked about her future, Nongrum said, “My plans are to keep fighting to get further in this field and be able to compete with men on the tracks and be able to achieve a podium beating the men.”
Even as the roar of engines makes her adrenaline rush, the sport can also burn a hole in a pocket. “It’s an expensive game and my dad is the only one supporting me and I am so grateful to have him. But I am open to anyone who would like to sponsor,” Nongrum said.
In her message to women having the same thrill for speed Nongrum said, “If you have the passion and the will to race you should go ahead. No one but yourself is what keeps you from doing what you love. It’s not an easy field of course but you have to have talent and skills if you want to be a winner.”
Reiterating that the sport is an expensive one and tagged the rich man’s game, she said, “If there is a will there is a way, like the saying goes.”
The Logical Indian applauds Nongrum for achieving this feat and salutes her passion.