After the success of the first Jerusalem Formula Road Show last year, the second edition will have a more local flavor next week.
The rise of young Israeli racing drivers over recent years will be acknowledged on the streets of the capital this coming Monday and Tuesday (October 6-7), with Roy Nissany, Bar Baruch, Alon Day and Yarin Stern set to drive their competition cars alongside countless other racing attractions.
“Over 250,000 people watched the Jerusalem Formula Road Show last year, which gave a huge boost to the city’s economy, tourism and branding across the world,” said Mayor Nir Barkat. “The pictures of racing cars on the streets of Jerusalem sent out a message to the world that Jerusalem is an open and inviting city, a city of culture and sport.”
The Israeli drivers are all 23 or younger and compete in various racing categories. The 19-year-old Nissany races in the Formula 3 European Championship circuit, 18-year-old Baruch in Formula 4, 22-year-old Day in the GT Masters in Germany and Stern in the Formula 3 EuroFormula Open series. Stern is considered one of Israel’s biggest hopes to become the country’s first full- fledged Formula 1 driver.
At 19, there is still a long way to go until Stern realizes his dream. However, he isn’t discouraged by the magnitude of the task he faces.
“Formula 1 is my goal,” he told In Jerusalem , “you need quite a bit of luck to reach it. There are just 22 drivers overall from across the world, so there are a lot of politics involved as well as talent and money.”
He can’t wait to hit the roads of Jerusalem, and is hoping the event will help boost motorsports in the country.
“These kinds of events can really help,” Stern said.
“Motorsports can really succeed in Israel; many people really like the sport here. The only problem is that it doesn’t get enough exposure, and the government doesn’t invest enough money to try and develop it.”
“Israel has real potential to build an international racing track,” he added. “It could build one in Eilat. There is plenty of room in the desert, and Eilat is a tourism city and also has an airport and seaport. That is pretty much all you need for a track.”
Stern got into motor racing by coincidence at the age of 10, falling in love with the sport after joining his father and his business partners from abroad for a day of fun at a nearby carting track. He soon began competing, winning the national carting championship four times before deciding with his father to find out if he is capable of taking the next step – turning driving into a profession.
Stern then contacted a Spanish racing team – and they handed him a contract after he shone in a test drive.
“The initial plan was to start with a season in Formula BMW last year and then move on to Formula 3,” Stern explained. “However, I recorded excellent results and after several training sessions we decided to skip Formula BMW and start with Formula 3, which was a big gamble.
Nevertheless, everything went well and I already finished on the podium in my second race, which was a big surprise for everyone.
“I ended the season in eighth place overall and was named as rookie of the year,” he noted. “I was already approached by two other top teams during the season and after testing with them, I decided to join team West- Tec.”
Stern is currently ranked in No. 5 in the 2014 standings, with two more races to come to end the season in Barcelona at the start of November. He is pleased with his performance this season, though he failed to meet the target he set himself at the start of the campaign.
“I have had a pretty good season so far, finishing on the podium four times,” he explained. “Our goal initially this season was to battle for the championship, but I was very unlucky at the start of the year, with drivers crashing into me at the start of races. I failed to complete six races and lost a lot of ground. So it is a little disappointing that I’m not where I want to be in the standings, although I am pleased with my overall results.”
Stern still doesn’t know where he will race next year.
Regardless, he is hoping to be part of the academy of motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, after spending four days in Zagreb, Croatia, last week with 19 other talented youngsters competing for a single spot in the academy.
Stern began his IDF service in March, but was granted special permission to travel abroad as an elite sportsman.
While in Israel, he trains in the afternoons and evenings after spending his mornings at the army base.
“I feel that I should give back to the country,” said the native of Ramot Meir, a moshav near Rehovot. “I always wanted to be in a combat unit or a pilot, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t go to the different invites I received due to my sporting career.”
Stern experienced another frustrating weekend of racing in Monza, Italy, last Saturday and Sunday, finishing the first race in seventh place before having to retire during the second race.
Yet Stern will quickly put the disappointment behind him as he returns to Israel to take part in the Jerusalem Formula Road Show.
“I am very pleased that last year we were the first to capture and share a great moment in motorsport history – the first Jerusalem Formula Road Show,” said Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, a partner of the Ferrari F1 team that helps organize the road show.
“The event is all about fast cars with cutting-edge Formula 1 technology, racing around one of the world’s oldest cities and bringing local communities together.
Motorsport unites people all over the world, and last year’s Jerusalem Formula Road Show was no exception.
It seemed like a crazy idea, but together with Scuderia Ferrari and the Jerusalem Municipality, we made it happen – and it was a great success.”
Stern is virtually counting the minutes until the road show begins. “I’m really looking forward to participating this year,” he said. “It should be an amazing experience to drive my Formula 3 car in Jerusalem.”