The Knesset yesterday gave the green light for organized motorsport in Israel after approving legislation that will allow cars and motorcycles to legally race toward the checkered flag.
Under the Motorsports Law, which won the support of 25 MKs (three voted against), the government is required within nine months to formulate regulations for the staging of motor racing events in the country.
The law also provides for the establishment of a sports racing authority under the Education, Culture and Sport Ministry.
In the 58 years since Israel's establishment, very few motorsports events have been held in the country because drivers could be sanctioned for breaking highway laws and insurers refused to cover them and their vehicles.
"I am truly excited. This is a historic day for all motorsports enthusiasts," said Shinui lawmaker Ehud Rassabi, who proposed the legislation in a private member's bill.
Rassabi said he hoped the introduction of organized motorsport to the country would also help Israelis improve their ordinary road skills and yield other benefits.
"Car racing will benefit the Israeli economy, boost tourism and improve the poor driving culture of the Israeli driver," he said.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life; it's been a long road since we started in 1970," said rally driver Danny Levy, who was instrumental in getting lawmakers to initiate legislation after being held up by bureaucracy at every turn.
Levy said the red tape heaped on motorsports enthusiasts was the doing of ministry officials, not the politicians.
Levy, who heads the Israel Racing Drivers Association, said Israeli drivers could only legally practice and compete abroad, but inevitably they also did so in Israel, knowing they were breaking the law.
"We had to sit down with the clerks and explain every detail; it was like building a car from scratch. Before the law was passed, motorsport vehicles such as rally cars were not considered roadworthy in the eyes of the law," he explained.
Levy said Israel has 3,000 active car and motorcycle drivers and tens of thousands of spectating enthusiasts.
Chanoch Nissany became the first Israeli in Formula One earlier this year, when he was named as a test driver for the Minardi team.
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