Legalized car racing waits for green light from Knesset committee

Israel faced yet another speed bump on the road to establishing its own professional car racing on Wednesday.

israeli race car  (photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
israeli race car
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Israel faced yet another speed bump on the road to establishing its own professional car racing when lawmakers on Wednesday postponed until May 2007 the implementation of the law legalizing the sport. It was the third time the Knesset Committee for Education, Culture and Sport has postponed the law, which also applies to motorcycle and other types of mechanized vehicle racing, since it was first approved in December 14, 2005. The representatives of the Israel Racing Drivers Association sat across the table from the committee members in a brief, tense morning meeting. "They want the racing to begin already," said Meirav Israeli, legal advisor of the committee. "They don't want the law to be pushed off anymore, they want the racing to begin," she added. On December 14, 2005, after careful consideration, a law was passed legalizing the racing of mechanical vehicles in Israel. "The purpose of the law is to have any sort of mechanical racing - motorcycles and race cars - as an official sport with a budget," said Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the committee and a Labor MK. The law was proposed so that racing would be regulated "instead of having it as a pirate sport with a lot of accidents and illegal betting," according to Melchior. The law, which was originally slated to be implemented in September 2006, was postponed at the request of committee members belonging to the governing coalition. "Because of the mess in the government [resulting from the elections], the law was not properly coordinated yet," said Melchior. In addition, NIS 1 million was supposed to have been allocated toward consultation with advisory boards to draw up regulations. At Wednesday's meeting, Melchior promised to deliver the NIS 1m. during the 2006 fiscal year. He also pledged an additional NIS 9m. in 2007 in order to implement the regulations that would include construction of race tracks as well as safety patrols. Race car driver Aric Lapter expressed optimism that he would be able to race next year. "I am hopeful it will happen. We didn't think the law would pass and it did," he said. "The future for motor sports in Israel is promising."