Barkat secures funds for J'lem Formula 1 event

Funding approved despite opposition from city's ultra-Orthodox council members, who deemed the expenditure a waste of valuable funds.

race car formual 1 driver 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
race car formual 1 driver 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s much-touted June Formula One “Peace Road Show” was nearly disqualified for a false start Thursday, before being approved in a last-minute City Council meeting that night.
The road show made headlines when it was announced earlier this month, but the Finance Committee had yet to approve the transfer of NIS 2.5 million to fund the event, due to opposition within the committee and from religious groups, Ynet reported.
“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.
His sentiments were shared by Deputy Mayor Pepe Aflalo and Israel’s ultra-Orthodox council members, who deemed the expenditure as a waste of valuable funds.
Still, the Jerusalem Municipality issued a statement Thursday afternoon defending the allocation as a “one-time investment” for urban development that will also benefit future events.
The impasse was resolved that evening at a City Council meeting attended by Barkat and Finance Committee members.
The event, which will require considerable construction of fences, concrete barriers and safety devices, will proceed as scheduled.
Slated for June 13 to 14, the road show will feature world-class cars and drivers representing Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi, among others. The cars will be exhibited before the show at the Old Train Station from June 9 to 13.
Barkat, a former race-car driver who has competed in events in Israel and abroad, heralded the Formula One event at a lavish press conference in the beginning of the month.
“Formula One is an historic event never before witnessed in Israel,” he said. “Jerusalem joins other leading cities in the world which hold motor sports events attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators, who contribute greatly to the city’s economy, tourism and world image.”
“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 said.
The cavalcade is scheduled to travel from the Cinematheque to Sultan’s Pool and the Tower of David, through Mamilla Boulevard. It will then continue past the King David Hotel to Liberty Bell Park, on to the Old Train Station and then back to the Cinematheque.
“Ferrari Challenge” cars will also participate in demo drives, as will drift cars with powerful V8 engines. Chris Pfeiffer of Germany, one of the world’s most renowned stunt riders, will showcase a highspeed, daredevil performance.
The public is invited to view the event for free from special viewing areas along the route.
Tickets for access to raised seating spots will be available for purchase.