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Iranian Female Racecar Driver Defeats Male Competitors

Mills College Weekly

Laleh Seddigh is making big noise in the world of competitive racecar driving.Barely topping five feet, 28- year-old Seddigh is fast becoming a national hero for Iranian female racecar drivers, and bringing international media coverage to female racers for the first time in the sports history in Iran.Nicknamed “little Schumacher” after Michael Schumacher, Germany’s 7-time F-1 series champion, Seddigh caused a major upset when she beat all 12 of her teammates earlier this month at a race in Tehran. A small group of fellow female racers and fans were ecstatic as their diminutive hero took the winner’s platform. “In Iran, whenever there is a traffic jam and there is a woman in it, the male drivers ridicule her and blame only her,” Nazanin, 22 and a fan of Seddigh, told reporters after her win. “It’s a relief to see there is someone like Laleh.”The petite beauty does admit that breaking into the male dominated world of racing has not been easy, especially in a place like Iran, where the conservative clergy still view women as inferior to men.Despite the poncho she dons to cover her tight racer’s overalls, her victories are still censored on local television. At a recent race, the Belfast Telegraph quoted her as saying that the male winners were given a vehicle, while she received only a gold coin. “Most of them, I think, are jealous, and I don’t care about that,” she said. “I am just going and hoping to be champion in the next years and I will really try to achieve that goal.”Seddigh began her professional racing career a mere two years ago, and since then she has quickly risen to the top.  It is Seddigh’s blend of confidence, talent, and natural skill that has taken her so far, her trainer Saeed A’rabian who is a former national champion, told local reporters.This year, 30 new female racers have followed Seddigh example, and joined the racing circuit; this marks the first time that female racers have received awards in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran.Seddigh is a PhD student from Tehran, where she also works as a managing director of a company that manufactures car parts. But full time racing is a real possibility thanks to sponsorship offers from Proton, Hyundai, and Mazda.Currently, Seddigh is considered the best female racer in Iran, but this title is possibly inadequate. According to recent BBC coverage, Seddigh is fully capable of competing against the country’s top male racers. Seddigh herself remains undaunted, “Resistance from men does not bother me,” she says. “Once I get on the track, I like to use my technical skills, take control and dominate the other drivers.”She is awaiting permission to compete in higher caliber races that remain segregated.