Sharima Khan: Leading the way for women in motor racing

By Akeem Greene

In a sport which dates back to the 1950s in Guyana, with the formation of the British Guiana Motor-Cycle Club (BGMCC) that showcased their daredevilry at the No 63 beach, men have dominated motor racing.
However, over the past four years, there has been the emergence of fiercely competitive female drivers in the Caribbean region and in Guyana, Sharima Khan has acted as the change agent.

Sharima Khan showcasing one of her many accolades
Sharima Khan showcasing one of her many accolades

With the racing name of “Speed Queen”, Khan has gone bumper to bumper with the men, both young and old, and has managed to drive off with the precious chequered flag, doing something no other female has done for the sport in Guyana to date.
The 21-year-old, speaking of some of her outstanding achievements, stated, “It is a very proud and confident feeling, because all my life I have worked to be where I am now and there is only room for improvement.”
Khan firmly believes once behind the wheel, the issue of gender does not matter since “competition is competition and it is the best driver who crosses the finish in first place”.
Interestingly, the driver said it was not as easy for her to enter the sport as it was for her male compatriots, since she was put under immense pressure to assert her skills as a circuit racer.
However, she is hoping that her success encourages more females to enter the sport, adding that “the hard work is done”.

Leading the way! Sharima Khan’s Honda Civic heads the pack at the South Dakota Circuit (Rohindra Mahase photo)
Leading the way! Sharima Khan’s Honda Civic heads the pack at the South Dakota Circuit (Rohindra Mahase photo)

In giving a viewpoint on why many women do not race in Guyana, she posited, “I think the reason why a lot of females are not in the sport is just because, to me, they are just scared to do it: because, at first, it was a bit hard for me to get in it, because I would have been the first to try after such a long time; there were females that used to race back in the day but not professionally.”
The GuyOil-sponsored driver hopes that women can have a more open mind to racing, since it is “not based on male and female; it is based on what you want and how bad you want it”.
With the focus returning to her life as a racer, the former Covent Garden Secondary School student recollected her most memorable moment on the track when she and her father, Rafeeq Khan, drove together at her first endurance race meet and won the title. “It was an amazing feeling.”
In looking ahead to her 2017 goals, Khan plans to use the words of encouragement from the Caribbean drivers at the Caribbean Motor Racing Championships (CMRC) after they saw her exploits at South Dakota Circuit, to fuel her endeavours to tour at the championships which also visits Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados.
In the interim, the racer said she would be go-karting at the GT motorsport facility to tune her skills ahead of the pending racing season.
In closing, Khan voiced that since the sport is quite expensive; the rebirth of go-karting can unearth new drivers and also spark greater interest to attract more fans.