Guest Blog by @geo1302 (Giorgio Tabarani) - Photos to follow soon
How It All Began
I have never done this before, but I received a message during class on Thursday morning saying “come on man, get here already!”.
It was from a friend of mine who got to Jerusalem already on Wednesday as part of the FSAE program our university, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, is taking part of. Students from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering & Aeronautics started working on the project back in September and the car is finally ready for display and hopefully competing in the Italian FSAE race in September, one week after the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza.
They were invited to show off the car in the Peace Road Show as part of promoting motorsport in the country.
Anyway, my friend told me he’ll get me a shirt from his team and sneak me inside the “pits” to see the cars backstage.
From The Pits
After 3.5 hours of traveling and getting lost in the city thanks to many closed roads, I managed to meet up with him, take my shirt and get inside.
They had already rolled out the Ferrari GT cars (1x 458, 3x F430), 2x Ferrari F60 (although I was told only one will run), 1x Audi DTM car and 1x LMP2 Lotus!
I tried to peek inside the garage where the cars were displayed for 4 days (it was closed on Thursday and Friday) and saw the Marussia standing still under the dark only to be told it will not be running! Doesn’t matter as I’m a Ferrari fan and didn’t come to see anything else!
After 30 minutes under the sun we spotted Giancarlo Fisichella standing with the Ferrari mechanics near the F60, and being the only one who recognized him, I started shouting his name. He gave us (3 friends from the FSAE team and myself, so it was quite private!!) a little gesture and went in to change to his overalls. That’s when I started feeling pity for him as it was around 33C in the shadows and he has to wear those hot overalls!
Gradually some (grownup) kids including the Ferrari Driving Academy youngster Antonio Fuoco started getting into the GT cars in the pits, revving them up while we were shouting for them “more, more!” and get on the 2.8km long track, each doing 3 laps.
After they got back in, they fired up the Audi DTM car. The sound was astonishing! It’s loud and dirty noise, but gives you an amazing sensation when it gets into your heart. Vitantonio Liuzzi took the car out, again, 3 laps and back in.
10 minutes wait until they fired up the Lotus LMP2 car, once again driven by Liuzzi! 3 laps and back in.
Now it was Max Biaggi’s turn to take his Ducati bike out for 2 laps.
Meanwhile we had Chris Pfeiffer warming up his bike (brakes, to be precise) in the pits in front of us. Doing some doughnuts and wheelies, we couldn’t but keep clapping hands, whistling and shouting for him to do more. He’d look at us, give us two thumbs up and do more stunts. What was interesting is he’d stop for a moment after 2 minutes, take a bottle of water and put some on his rear brakes. I guess he doesn’t have to do such things when he’s out on track because he has enough area to speed & cool them down “naturally”.
Finally, he took his BMW bike out to the streets for about 10 minutes, having two main “stages” to perform his stunts for around 4 minutes each and one smaller stage for 2 minutes.
One of the most interesting things we noticed and managed to hear from the drivers when they got back was how terrible the track surface was. To quote one of the Ferrari drivers: “the track is very uneven” and the exact words from Pfeiffer “The surface is very slippery. I don’t know when to brake!”
Meanwhile the Ferrari mechanics turned on the engine on the F60. Everyone went crazy. You could hear the crowds from far shouting as well, even though there were no cameras or anything – all based on the sound.
According to plan, one of the Ferrari head mechanics or a similar part, took a Maserati and went out for “Safety Check” – check the track for oil residue, trash or any other hazards.
20 seconds before the Maserati came in, the Ferrari started rolling out, revving it up a bit – all according to time so when the Maserati comes in; the F60 goes out.
Since the same show was going to be repeated, we decided to go out of the pits & onto the track to see what the drivers do outside too.
From The Track
We got into one of the main stages where drivers had some space to do doughnuts and Chris could perform his tricks. We met some other friends there and hung out there until the show was over.
Some of the highlights were: seeing the F60 with full gas, doing doughnuts and burnouts. Towards the end, Fisi was driving the car slowly up a hill while we were standing trackside, so we all (10 people!) waved him to slow down and stop – surprisingly he answered our request! He did a race start simulation right in front of leaving 3 meters long tyre mark on the street. Definitely highlight of the event.
Pfeiffer did some incredible tricks like standing on the bike, wheelies both front and back, switching legs on wheelies, flip jump off the bike, putting a hot blond girl on the track and driving quickly towards her then front wheelie to kiss her (he failed 4 out of 6 times though, haha).
You can see the show on Youtube, probably :)
Slightly after the “european” cars (Ferrari, Audi, Lotus) finished their show, there was a small rally for israeli-built cars, including rally, karting, buggies and bikes. We all laughed when one bike just halted. The poor guy was humiliated on live TV so we decided to cheer him up and clap hands for him.
Now to the other side of the scale: Politics.
One of my friends did mention the irony of calling the show “Peace Road Show” and conducting it right in Jerusalem, the most provocative city in the Middle East. On the one hand, you have the Palestinians who claim the whole country to be theirs, on the other hand you have the Jewish who claim to have won it fair and square, in addition to historic rights. Both claim Jerusalem to be the capital of their countries.
Outsiders would say it wasn’t a peaceful show as there were a lot of police attendance, “hundreds of them”, to quote some papers. Not sure how much they know, but that is quite usual in Jerusalem, especially in the area where the show took place:
It was outside the walls of the Ancient City. A place to all three main religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism- containing some of the most important monuments and holy places. Regardless of which country we’re talking about, there will always be tension between the religious bodies around there and police forces are in demand.
I, for one, don’t care about the politics people mentioned regarding this event. The place was filled with Arabs, Jews, Russians, Ethiopians and tourists who happened to be in the city. From my sources, there were 0 incidents between people. The show came mainly to promote motorsports in the country (which were legalised only last year!) and secondly show signs of peace in the area. Granted, there are fights in the country, but not as the media reports it. To stick to my principles, I will not talk any further about the politics behind this story: I’m not a politician, so I don’t handle this topic!