The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin hard drives, women at the wheel

Woman power at the wheel will scorch the city streets this Sunday. Two car rallies, criss-crossing Calcutta, on March 2, will have one thing in common — no men allowed, unless to stand and cheer as the women go zip, zap, zoom.

‘She drives me crazy!’ is a women’s car rally, organised by the Bengal Motor Sports Club (BMSC). Between 70 and 100 teams of two women will hit the fast lane. The flag-off is at 8 am from Clown Town, at the southern end of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, and the finishing line at Ibiza, on Diamond Harbour Road. Though the actual stretch is around 25 km, the teams will be travelling close to 100 km, at a maximum speed of 55 kph. All cars are allowed, apart from Maruti Omni vans and soft-topped or open vehicles, “for safety reasons”.

Also showing off their precision driving skills on March 2 will be 56 women, in 14 cars.

This roadshow — of, by and for women — is dubbed the Bhowanipore Gujarati Stree Mandal Car Rally 2003 and will involve two drivers and two navigators, between ages 18 and 60.

“More and more women are driving these days and this rally is geared to give them a new experience,” says Induben Doshi of Bhowanipore Gujarati Stree Mandal.

Starting from the Lakshminarayan Hospital in Bhowanipore, run by the Mandal, the women will drive down Elgin Road, Park Street, Red Road, the Maidan and end up, 24 km later, at the Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society. To make it “a rally to remember”, the cars will be all decked up and some of the participants will be in fancy dress.

And though ‘She drives me crazy!’ sounds like the wackier wheel voyage, it will actually have little room to manoeuvre for fun ’n’ games, assure organiser of the event, that has been “growing in popularity” every year.

“The route is secret and we are not divulging the number of control points either, or else participants will know what to expect,” says Rajat Majumdar, president of the BMSC. “Usually, we have some celebrity participants coming in as well, like actresses Rupa Ganguly or Pallavi Chatterjee, who love driving and racing,” adds Majumdar. While Rupa’s “new-found love” (direction) could see her steering clear of the rally this time, Pallavi is still hoping to make it “between jatra and shooting”.

For the BMSC rally, only women drivers will be allowed, while teams with men as navigators will not be eligible for the awards at the end of the road.

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