Israeli, Palestinian drivers team up for international go-kart competition

Through the special "Race for Peace" project, Nashashibi and Lapter hope to send a message of peace to the world, and to inspire others.

October 24, 2007 22:34
2 minute read.
Israeli, Palestinian drivers team up for international go-kart competition

Peace 2007 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

Palestinian go-kart champion Rasheed Nashashibi and Israeli engineer and single-seater racer Aric Lapter have teamed up to compete in the 2008 British Formula Vee Championship. Through the special "Race for Peace" project, Nashashibi and Lapter hope to send a message of peace to the world, and to inspire others to collaborate in a similar fashion for future racing seasons. "We are united by our passion for motor sports and our dream of becoming professional racing drivers," explained Lapter. "We will show the world that Israelis and Palestinians can collaborate as a team." Nashashibi and Lapter first met at a racetrack, where Lapter made the first move and initiated the partnership. "I am proud of my state and you are proud of yours," he said. "Why not race together?" Nashashibi is the 2006 Palestinian go-kart champion and has been racing in university in the UK for three years with the Kingston Original Karting Society (KOKS). He has won several races and championships, such as the Bayford Winter and Spring cups. Additionally, Nashashibi has launched a club called PalRacing, which organizes races and practices. Lapter has won two races in Israel and raced Formula Ford at the Henry Morrogh racing school in Italy. He is also a mechanical engineering graduate of Tel Aviv University and has been instrumental in bringing motor sports to Israel. He drove and helped design the first one-seat Formula Vee race car developed in Israel. "People thought I was mad; they said that a race car had never been made in Israel," the driver said in March 2006 at the car's first test drive. "So I thought, why not? I'll be the first." The car was designed and built in Lapter's Tel Aviv backyard by Aric's team, Lapter-Brenner, and with help from British Formula Vee manufacturer GAC. The British Formula Vee Championship series in which the two will race is a low-cost single-seater racing category which starts in March runs through October. "We are a winning team," declared Lapter. "I could not want any other partner, and we truly wish each other success." The drivers represent their countries with pride, and both the Palestinian and Israeli flags will be displayed on each driver's racing suits. The Race for Peace project has been well received as a positive encouragement toward Palestinian-Israeli relations and the promotion of partnership. "I am delighted to endorse this exciting initiative which will send the international community a positive message of trust, teamwork, and cooperation," stated Gal Pele, director of the sports department at the Peres Center for Peace, an organization which works to bring Palestinians and Israelis together. "I believe that peace can be achieved not only through the efforts of politicians and leaders, but also through the willingness of the Palestinian and Israeli people to truly engage with one another." In order to participate in the upcoming competition, Nashashibi and Lapter face the daunting task of obtaining sponsorship. "Our partnership has been met only with positive feedback," explained Nashashibi, "but motor sports are not yet popular among Israelis, so we are looking to other countries for sponsors." The pair has estimated that it would need to raise some $58,000 in order to compete in the coming season. A sanguine Nashashibi noted, "We are hopeful that our message of peace and collaboration will inspire support."

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