bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Posts Tagged ‘Go Milka Go!’

Uplifting Women of Our Time

Posted by bububooks on March 26, 2010

In November 2009, we at bububooks had the pleasure of hosting Milka Duno, Indy Car racer, to autograph her book and speak with children and fans during the Miami Book Fair International.  As the Indy season gets underway, we’re excited to watch her progress through this male-dominated sport.  Recently, Milka sat down with a reporter for the New Straits Times while she was in Kuala Lumpur to speak at a conference celebrating International Women’s Day.  You can read that article below.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse at her bilingual children’s book, Go, Milka, Go!/¡Corre, Milka, Corre!, click here.

Scroll down to see Milka Duno’s racing schedule for this season!

New Straits Times
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 01.06 AM

WOMEN: Driving dreams

Milka DunoHispanic beauty Milka Duno shares the ups and downs of being a professional car racer in a male-dominated sport with VIMALA SENEVIRATNE

VENEZUELAN beauty Milka Duno strikes a vampish pose with a mischievous look in her eyes and a white rose tucked behind her right ear.

Showing off her well-toned body to advantage, she’s sexy without being sleazy. “This reminds me of my modelling days while at university,” she says with a smile that can light up a room.

But her Latin American charm has little to do with what she does for a living. Duno is a professional race car driver who loves the challenge of burning tyres at 300kmph, a speed which would land most of us with a ticket.

“I didn’t plan on being a car racer. It was an opportunity that came my way. I tried it and haven’t looked back since,” she says. The former naval engineer and Caracas native was in Kuala Lumpur as one of the speakers at the Women of Independence — The Power of One conference held in conjunction with International Women’s Day recently. She has just finished her presentation and is taking a well-deserved break.

“I haven’t slept well in a long time,” she says while relaxing on a sofa, her right leg comfortably tucked in. “People think that I’m addicted to speed. It heightens your senses, but what I find most thrilling is the challenge. Conquering the challenge is what drives me.

“I thrive on challenges, be it on the race track, in my job or personal life. I compete to win. It’s hard work, but not impossible,” says the thirtysomething who made history last year when she became the first Hispanic woman to compete in the 93 years of the Indy 500 race.

It’s not surprising that her grit and courage have enabled her to take part in just about every major car race in the world — the 24-hour Daytona, Le Mans Series and Indy 500 — while collecting a series of titles such as “first woman to race here”, “win this” and “finish there”. She has eight wins in major sports car races and was recently inducted into the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame. She now competes in the Indy Car Series. “There are 17 races a year, and next I will be racing in Brazil. I have to be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared.” And how does she do that? “Two hours of workout every day — a combination of weight training, swimming, running and eating healthy meals. Being single also helps as I’m able to concentrate fully on my career,” she says. Duno spends hours practising with her coach. When she gets behind the wheel, her gender takes secondary role. “I’m a driver just like the others in the race. We have only one aim — to win. This is where your co-ordination, skill and experience come into play,” she says.

Duno learnt to drive her mother’s car (without permission) in her teens. She has now set her sights on F1, considered the ultimate car race. “Any serious car racer will tell you that winning takes precise timing, mechanical knowledge, stamina and most of all, unwavering focus. I’m working towards that race.” The second of three children of a sales-manager father and lawyer mother, Duno lives in Miami, Florida.

She once played the role of Kellie “Gearbox”, a race car driver in the Speed Racer movie based on the 1960 classic animated series. “I hadn’t done movies before so it was a good experience. But that’s not where my heart is,” she says.

Duno, who had harboured dreams of becoming a naval engineer, also realised the importance of a good education towards achieving this goal.

“Both my parents, especially my mother, always stressed that a solid education was a stepping stone to achieving one’s dreams. As for my dreams, call it an obsession with the navy,” she says with a giggle. “I used to spend hours at the port watching ships and wondering what kept them afloat.” She enrolled in a naval university and was one of four students from a class of 120 who graduated with a degree. She went on to earn four Masters in Organisational Development, Naval Architecture, Maritime Business and Marine Biology. “I was interested in all those subjects, and I worked as an engineer for a short while,” she explains.

In 1996, she was introduced to car racing when a friend asked her to take part in a Porsche Driving Clinic in Venezuela. She came in second and realised that racing fuelled her passion for challenge and competition. “That did it. I switched careers,” she says. Her parents, she recalls, were aghast. “They wanted me to have a regular job and they feared for my safety. I eventually won them over and now they are my No. 1 fans.” To excel in the sport, she realised that she needed training, knowledge and experience. “That’s how I ended up in Miami, to take up race car driving lessons,” she explains. By 2000, Duno was already in the door of the male-dominated profession.

She devotes her free time to giving talks to children of all ages on the importance of education through the Milka Way programme she set up six years ago. “I hope to inspire and motivate the children to realise their dreams, just as I did mine,” she says.

“It’s rewarding to get letters from young adults thanking me for encouraging them to continue with their education. Many who had dropped out of school or university and went back to complete their studies, are now holding well-paying jobs.” She has also come up with the bilingual children’s book Go, Milka, Go!, which depicts her as a cartoon character teaching the importance of education to children. “I try to show readers the joy of competing and winning and the importance of team effort and determination as necessary tools to a successful life.” And what about her future plans? “Married with lots of children and living happily ever after,” she says with a laugh.

“I’m aware that there will come a day when I will have to leave professional racing. I will concentrate on my Milka programme and maybe produce more children’s books.”

Indycar logo

DATE                                                            VENUE

March 14                                          Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil

March 28                                         Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida

April 11                                              Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama

April 18                                             Streets of Long Beach, California

May 1                                                  Kansas Speedway, Kansas

May 30                                              Indianapolis 500, Indiana

June 5                                                Texas Motor Speedway, Texas

June 20                                             Iowa Speedway, Iowa

July 4                                                 Watkins Glen International, New York

July 18                                               Streets of Toronto, Canada

July 25                                               Edmonton City Centre Airport, Canada

August 8                                           Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Ohio

August 22                                        Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California

August 28                                        Chicagoland Speedway, Illinois

September 4                                   Kentucky Speedway, Kentucky

September 18                                 Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

October 2                                         Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida

For more information, visit Milka’s official website.

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