Outing Iran: Laleh Seddigh


A reader writes:

The stories you've been running about women in Iran are amazing.  I had a similar eye-opening experience a few months back when I first heard about a female race car driver named Laleh Seddigh.  She emerged during a relatively liberal period in Iran during the '90s and went on to compete not only against other women, but against men (and she won!)  Unfortunately, she was banned from racing a couple of years ago and I haven't been able to find any current information on her status.  But the two profiles below really capture a sense of a strong-willed, unstoppable personality, as well as the personality of her father, who clearly adores her.

From a 2005 NYT profile:

Ms. Seddigh loves speed. She also loves a challenge. Last fall, she petitioned the national auto racing federation in this male-dominated society for permission to compete against  men. When it was granted, she became not only the first woman in Iran to race cars  against the opposite sex, but also the first woman since the Islamic Revolution here to compete against men in any sport.

What's more, she beat them.

"I like competition in everything," the striking 28-year-old said after parking the car andSeddigh-small going for tiramisù in a cafe in North Tehran. "I have to move whatever is movable in the world."

In March, she moved the nation when she won the national championship. State television refused to show the new champ on the victory dais elevated above the men, but  photographers captured the moment. She stood quietly while receiving her medal, as she had promised the race organizers she would, with a scarf over her long black hair and a coat over her racing uniform.

A 2007 Guardian profile addressed her dubious ban from the sport.