Dec 4, 2007

Life in the fast lane

Life in the fast lane

For the small group of youth from the Malaysian Jamat who attended the second day of the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport race at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the event could not have been more spectacular. Though the air was acrid and the noise deafening, the group watched with excitement as 25 state-of-the-art high powered race cars zoomed around the track only coming in for a pit stop to pick up a fresh set of tires and more fuel. Each was painted in their nation’s colours and steered by drivers from their respective countries.
This outing exposed the youth to a very different career and allowed them to meet an Ismaili celebrity in their midst. Nur Ali, the dashing young racing phenom, is the A1 Team Pakistan driver for the 2006/07 season. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, he spent the first eight years of his childhood in Hamburg, Germany. Nur then moved with his family to the United States and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a focus on U.S. foreign policy from American University in Washington D.C. prior to pursuing a full-time professional career in motorsports.
Following the feature race, youngsters of the Malaysian Jamat gathered inside the Team Pakistan VIP Hospitality Lounge to hear Nur speak about how he first got involved in motorsports. Nur officially started his racing career at the esteemed Skip Barber Racing School in Lexington, Ohio, where he received his official driver’s training and certification. However, his passion for racing started at a much earlier age as he eagerly watched his father frequently manoeuvre the family car through traffic on the Autobahn, Germany’s high-speed road.
Determined to follow his childhood passion for racing, Nur transformed his dream into reality in 1998 when he became the first Pakistani race car driver in the world to compete on a professional level. Since 2001, Nur has raced in the Legends Series, Formula Mazda Regional Series, Formula Pro Mazda International Series, and the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Series. During this time, Nur has recorded two championships, dozens of race wins and countless podium finishes, including a Top Ten finish for Team Pakistan in the World Cup event in Durban, South Africa. Working towards forever securing his place in racing tradition, Nur has also successfully tested race cars from the European Formula Renault and F3 Championship Series, as well as the popular American NASCAR Series, and the Indy Racing League’s (IRL) Indy Pro Series. Nur has now set his sights on becoming the first Muslim to compete in the IRL’s Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Daytona 500 within the near future.
As Nur recounted his career story, the youth from the Malaysian Jamat listened to him with rapt attention. Fascinated by the day’s racing experience and exotic atmosphere, some of the youngsters rhythmically shifted their eyes from Nur to a television screen that showed the other nations’ cars on the track and their respective lap times. At times, even Nur took a quick glance at the television screen to monitor his competitors’ performance during the session.
Answering questions from the youth who were intrigued by his fireproof racing suit and extravagant helmet design, Nur pointed out that although racing seems glamorous from the outside, in reality he literally risks his life each time he gets into a race car. “Going at speeds of up to 200 mph, my concentration has to be razor sharp; one false move and it could spell disaster for me and my racing colleagues who are also risking their lives.” Nur explained that racing is analogous to many aspects of life in general, wherein teamwork is critical and working together plays a significant role in influencing the overall outcome of any challenge one faces in sport or in life.
Nur’s team is comprised of ten crew members, many of whom have been with him since the start of his career. Nur further mentioned that although being a professional race car driver has its perks, his travel schedule can be gruelling at times. In late 2006 and early 2007, he was on the road away from home for nearly nine months, essentially living out of a suitcase.
Prior to going pro, Nur carefully considered the long-term consequences of choosing a career as a professional athlete. While speaking with the excited youngsters, he advised them that the career of a race car driver, as with many other careers, has a limited shelf-life. Accordingly, he told the youngsters to plan for a future aside from one’s primary career because in life there will be many setbacks. External forces have a significant influence on one’s success rate. For example, in motorsports, corporate sponsorship plays a major role and in the event that racing did not materialise as he hoped, Nur first pursued a formal education and remains multilingual. He is fluent in both German and Urdu.
Rizal Salim, one of the youth who had the opportunity to be there on race day, enjoyed the entire experience. He was awed to be so close to the track, the cars and the field of world-class drivers, witnessing first-hand an actual World Cup race. Shaaira Siraj, another young attendee said it was an exciting experience and she never imagined that an Ismaili would be an A1GP World Cup race car driver, representing his country in such a monumental event. To her, it showed that if you have a will, there is a way and that if you really want to do something, you can.
Inspired by Nur’s story, the youth traipsed out of the Hospitality Lounge, a bit giddy, by the day’s events. As the youngsters left the scene, Nur reminded them to pick a career that strikes their passion, because for him the passion to pursue his dream turned into a reality. Nur loves what he does, works really hard to be the best, and most of all is humbled by the support of his family and friends.

Ismailiworld - Be Unite

1 comment:

  1. With reference to the article published regarding nooralis participation in the race, I am sorry to say that Noorali is not associated with A1 GP Team Pakistan this season. The current driver name is Adam Khan who is a british born Pakistan. I my self was present at the race as I am the official Media Manager for Team Pakistan and the facts posted in the article are baseless. If you need any further details please visit the official Team Pakistan website for varifications of feel free to contact me. This kind of information brings bad name to Nurali who is a talented young man, to the Ismaili community and to the game as well.


    Naeem Razwani
    Team Pakistan


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