Breaking many stereotypes about women and their hobbies, an Indian-American woman just won a mega prize on reality TV that involved giving plush makeovers to cars.
Arushi Garg, a 38-year-old social media creator and mom from Houston just won season 1 of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge that aired on NBC. Apart from national recognition, Garg got to take home a cash prize of $50,000 as well as a highly customized Nissan Skyline (GT-R).
Her design is now also available as a die-cast toy exclusively to be purchased on Mattel Creations. Garg who originally hails from Jaipur,
Rajasthan, showcased her roots by transforming a Maruti Van — a car launched in India during the early 80’s.
She called her transformed car “Jaipur Jewel,” and liberally used motifs, colors and patterns from India. Her entry made her win a ticket to the finale along with $25,000.
In the finale, Garg was given the iconic 1996 Nissan Skyline to transform into a life-size Hot Wheels showstopper.
The car, dubbed “Rally Resilience” by Arushi, is a bright red creation with 24-inch wheels, extended fenders and beaming light bars representing power, bravery, kindness and courage.
Adding to its uniqueness is the affirmation “never quit,” which is transcribed on the car and can be seen under UV light.
Basking in the glory of her newly found fame, Garg spoke to the American Bazaar about being an Indian American woman with a passion for cars
American Bazaar: Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey here in the US?
Arushi Garg: I am mom to a young kid and a digital content creator. I immigrated to the US, 12 years ago after I got married. My husband works in the oil and gas industry in Houston.
I have been very active on social media and write about my immigrant experiences. I love connecting with other moms who are immigrants like me, are away from their families and are looking for support within the digital community and that is how my journey on social media began. I am a full-time tech professional and have been working in sales since a long time.
AB: let’s talk about cars. Have you always been interested in cars? Have you flipped cars before or was this the first time?
AG: I enjoy learning about cars in general and have always been interested in the car culture. I have never been into building or flipping cars for sale because, to be candid that is not my expertise.
But I am always on the lookout for going to local car shows as well as international car shows. My husband and son enjoy this passion too.
AB: So, in one of the rounds on the show, you transformed a Maruti Van. The car that was launched in India during the early 80’s has been a significant part of changing Indian socio-economic realities during those times. How significant was that phase in your life and why did you decide to bring that nostalgia car to the show?
AG: I wanted to share a piece of my childhood and my culture with the audiences of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge. Maruti van is not a very familiar car with the audiences and people of America.
But interestingly, the host of the show, Rutledge Wood has a similar Suzuki van as a part of his car collection. The van was very special for me because it was my first family car.
I got to make several memories on that car with my dad who passed away when I was 14. So, bringing the Maruti van on the show and then converting it into a life-size Hot Wheels that I called, “Jaipur Jewel,” was a homage to my dad ad my culture.
I had three amazing carpoolers as a part of my team who helped me bring my vision and design to life on the show.
AB: How did you think of taking a part in the show? Was it easy for you to participate?
AG: I enjoy putting myself in places where I can get a chance to grow and learn something from new experiences. I took it as an opportunity to do something out of my comfort zone and do something different from my everyday life which involves working, parenting, content creation and traveling.
I also wanted to push my boundaries as well as take it as an opportunity to honor my roots and my culture so that my son could be proud of me. My son is a huge Hot Wheels fan and has more than 200 cars! I really did it for him. He was my biggest inspiration.
AB: Your win is also an interesting example of busting gender stereotypes. Did you ever come across comments like not many women are into cars? How does it feel to break those boundaries?
AG: For me, this win represents getting outside of your comfort zone and using the opportunity to challenge everyone to go for their dreams and use their creativity to empower and inspire others.
I hope this win shows to the younger immigrant generation that anything is possible as long as we have the courage and belief in ourselves.
My win on the show is a representation of my family’s approach toward life. It also shows that one should never quit. I may be the first person of Indian-origin to have designed a Hot Wheels and I am proud of my little achievement.