It's All In Her DNA

As a young girl tagging along with her dad, Maheen Shah, observed the way her dad took care of his cars and paid close attention to his driving skills. It’s no surprise that this month’s Gal Next Door has a “natural affinity for cars and motorsports.” You add being an “adrenaline junkie,” and that passion sends Maheen on racing adventures around the world. 

Sharing her enthusiasm and passion for cars with her husband, the frequent travelers spend a lot of time in Europe, where Formula One germinated. While she loves speed, Maheen notes that experiencing the distinct racing culture and learning the scientific intricacies of racing are equally important to her. She and her husband “have had the good fortune to do lap times on a few of the world’s best Formula One circuits,” she explained. These include the Circuit de Monaco, Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, and Nurburgring Nordschleife German Grand Prix – the most feared track and also known as Green Hell, to name a few. For Maheen, her taxi lap on Green Hell lived up to its reputation of being treacherous as it was “by far, the most exhilarating out of body experience” she has encountered thus far. 

Beyond being mentored by her father, Maheen has primarily pursued her passion in a self-teach mode. However, she has completed a high-performance track racing course with Jim Russel of Sonoma. She felt this allowed her to put all the theoretical learning to the test and hone her skills a bit more. For Maheen, she felt it really helped to experience track time in a closed circuit and test her techniques, reflexes, and judgment and error recovery in a race-simulated environment with other similar-caliber drivers. Even so, she confirms with a wink-wink that “yes, a lot of self-practice in empty parking lots” is also a part of her training. 

However you choose to pursue your passion for racing, whether it’s through driving or simply spectating, Maheen has found an incredibly diverse group of enthusiasts. She points out that a wealth of knowledge can be found in local groups and chapters. Your experience can be as casual as attending some “cars and coffee” meetups or more active pursuits like attending an organized practice session. However, Maheen notes that reserving track time can be quite pricey and requires a lot of planning. Whatever your level of interest, she feels the need for speed is innate to the racer. She concludes, “you either have that racing gene or not.” 

When Maheen isn’t taking laps around the racetrack, she spends her time traveling and exploring her “long love affair” for all things French. She used the pandemic to learn the French language, culture, cinema, arts, fashion, and history. In her downtime, she can “be found listening to Serge Gainsbourg and pondering over the works of Balzac and Apollinaire.” Having just relocated to Texas, specifically Grand Mesa, Maheen looks forward to discovering all the natural and social wonders of the area and getting out and meeting more neighbors. She feels especially lucky to live so close to a Grade 1 Formula One U.S. Grand Prix racecourse. Having Circuit of Americas (COTA) here in Austin, you can be sure Maheen will continue to develop her racing skills and satisfy her natural desire to experience all things fast!