Formula 1 to make historic Jerusalem debut

"Peace Road Show" to traverse Old City and downtown streets to feature race car built by Ben Gurion University students.

By
June 12, 2013 01:56
3 minute read.
Nir Barkat preparing for Formula 1 race in Jerusalem

Nir Barkat preparing for Formula 1 race in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In a first, Formula 1’s internationally renowned race cars and drivers will traverse the capital’s streets Thursday through Friday, accompanied by models designed by the nation’s leading race car engineers.

The event, part of Formula 1’s “Peace Road Show,” will feature world-class cars and drivers representing Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi – as well as models constructed by Ben-Gurion University’s student race car team, “Ben- Gurion Racing.”

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“Jerusalem joins other leading cities in the world which hold motorsports events attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators who contribute greatly to the city’s economy, tourism and world image,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, a former race car driver, upon announcing the venture in April.

“The planned track is beautiful and attractive, combining the Old City walls and Jerusalem’s unique landscape with one of the most popular sports in the world,” he added.

However, the costly and ambitious undertaking has not come without hitting a few road bumps.

Indeed, shortly after Barkat announced the road show, it was met by heavy opposition from the Finance Committee and religious members of the City Council, who deemed the city’s NIS 2.5 million expenditure to help finance it “a waste of valuable funds.”

“I think there are more important issues that we have to spend the money on,” said Deputy Mayor David Hadari at the time of the announcement.

Hadari’s sentiments were also echoed by Deputy Mayor Pepe Aflalo and Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox council members.

In a last-minute bid in late April, Barkat was able to secure the funding from the city after defending the allocation as a “one-time investment for urban development” that will benefit future events.

Despite the total cost of the road show ballooning to nearly NIS 15m. – with most of the funding coming from sponsors – the mayor said the event will generate “compound interest in return on our investment,” according to Israel Hayom.

Still, the elite cavalcade – scheduled to travel from the Cinematheque to the Sultan’s Pool, on to the Tower of David, through Mamilla Boulevard, past the King David Hotel, on to Liberty Bell Park, by the Old Train Station, and back to the Cinematheque – will result in numerous street closures.

“I think it’s great that [the road show] is coming here, but it’s going to be a major headache for regular drivers like me to get around,” said a Jerusalem resident, who requested his name not be published.

“There are always positive and negative things that come with [events] like this,” he continued. “I’m trying to focus on the positive, but not looking forward to all the street closings.”

The Peace Road Show will also feature “Ferrari Challenge” cars that will participate in demo drives, drift cars with powerful V8 engines, and Grand Prix motorcycles. Chris Pfeiffer of Germany, one of the world’s most renowned stunt riders, will showcase a highspeed, daredevil performance.

Additionally, Ben-Gurion University’s student race car team, “Ben-Gurion Racing” – the country’s only team to enter the prestigious Formula SAE university competition in Italy – will showcase its latest models, featuring a student driver.

“We are making history,” said Barkat at a Saturday press conference. “This is a massive production, the likes of which Israel has never seen. I invite all Israelis to come and enjoy an extraordinary experience – an example of the city continuously improving sports and culture events.”

The Peace Road Show is open and free to the public, although tickets to a specially built grandstand will be available for a small fee.

Designated roads will be closed to traffic on Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.


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