Ben Gurion Students Build Formula Race Car To Compete Internationally

Test Car Competed in Israel's Biggest Race Ever

By JTA

Published June 17, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Last week, Rani Dekel was doing doing donuts on the streets of Jerusalem in a blue and orange Formula race car with hundreds of thousands cheering him on.

On Sunday, the car’s skeleton sat in a bare laboratory at Ben-Gurion University in the southern city of Beersheva, its colorful siding stacked on a shelf in the corner and its essential parts shipped off to auto workshops across Israel.

But Dekel doesn’t mind losing his car. In a couple of months, he’ll have built a new one.

Dror Hazan, right, one of the managers of the Ben-Gurion University Formula project, pushing Rani Dekel, who is driving the race car during the Jerusalem Formula event, June 14, 2013.
Raz Schweitzer/Ben Gurion Racing
Dror Hazan, right, one of the managers of the Ben-Gurion University Formula project, pushing Rani Dekel, who is driving the race car during the Jerusalem Formula event, June 14, 2013.

Dekel is part of a team of 35 Ben-Gurion automotive engineering students in the midst of a yearlong project — to design and construct a Formula race car that four of them will drive in an international competition in Italy in September.

“Building the car is super intense,” Dekel said. “It’s your whole life. It’s your focus. You get there and you’re showing what you planned and built and dreamed about.”

Dekel’s car was the only Israeli-made vehicle in last week’s Jerusalem Formula show, the biggest auto racing event in the country’s history.

In Formula 1 racing, drivers sit in low cars built by leading European carmakers such as Ferrari and Mercedes and careen around twisting tracks at speeds in excess of 200 mph. The brand is especially popular in Europe. Israel has no car industry, let alone a motor sports league, so a delegation of auto racers zooming around Jerusalem was thrilling for locals. The show featured top international auto racers doing laps, spins and donuts — a spinning maneuver — in the shadow of the Old City walls.

But while a reported 250,000 Israeli racing fans had their eyes on the streets of Jerusalem, the future of the sport in Israel lies an hour south, in the sands of the Negev Desert and the nearby engineering labs of Ben-Gurion University. Next year, the country’s first motor sports complex is slated to open just north of Beersheva.

“One thing is for sure: There’s an Israeli audience that’s interested,” said Dror Karavany, who manages the development of the Bnei Shimon track.

For the student team at Ben-Gurion, though, Jerusalem Formula was merely a milestone en route to the main event: a sleeker design and a strong finish at Formula SAE, a competition in which student teams worldwide race homemade cars through the streets of Varano de’ Melegari, in northern Italy. Last year, the Israeli team placed 11 in a field of 42.

The Ben-Gurion team began working toward this year’s race last summer, when the students split into pairs and each tandem chose a part of the car to design. Each pair then spent a couple of months studying its part before starting the design on a computer.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.