Chanoch Nissany is an Israeli businessman and former racing driver, based in Hungary, who made history as the first Israeli to reach the Formula 1 World Championship. He never raced in Formula One but participated at 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix as the official test driver for Minardi F1 Team during first free practice. Interestingly, he did it on his 42nd birthday, on July 29.
In his relatively short racing career, Nissany gained the most success in the Hungarian Formula 2000 Championship, winning the championship title five times. On the international scene, he was Central European Zone (CEZ) Formula 2000 champion in 2003 and recorded few attempts in the International Formula 3000 Championship in 2004.
Five-time champion in the Hungarian Formula 2000
Born in July 1963 in Tel Aviv, Israel, Chanoch Nissany became the successful businessman in Hungary before he started his racing career in the early 2000s, first as a hobby but then gaining some notable success in the national championship.
In 2002, he debuted in the Hungarian Formula 2000 Championship, driving a Coloni CN-98 (Nissan) for Szasz Motorsport. He was a runner-up in his debut season, then winning the championship title in 2003. Later in a career, parallel to his international commitments, Nissany was active in the Hungarian championship until 2014, winning four more championship titles in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Chanoch Nissany (right) and his son Roy Nissany
Starting an international career in 2003
In 2003, Nissany not only captured the Hungarian championship title but also won the Central European Zone (CEZ) championship with the same car. He also competed in the European-based World Series Lights, participating in twelve races with Szasz Motorsport and finishing 14th in the points.
In 2004, Nissany defended his Hungarian championship title and signed a contract with Coloni Motorsport to compete in the International Formula 3000 Championship. He raced in the last three rounds of the season, at Hungaroring, Spa and Monza, not scoring points.
Testing Formula 1 cars with Jordan and Minardi
In July 2004, Nissany went to Silverstone to test Formula One car of Jordan Grand Prix team. Later he had few more tests with Jordan and Minardi, then being announced in February 2005 as the official test driver of Minardi for the 2005 F1 season.
That year, Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers were driving for Minardi in the championship. Robert Doornbos replaced Friesacher after eleven rounds.
Chanoch Nissany in a Minardi PS05-Cosworth
Driving an F1 car in front of his home crowd
Because of his popularity in Hungary, Nissany gets an opportunity to participate in the F1 Grand Prix weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 2005. His personal sponsor UPEX secured him a one-off deal for that race, giving him a seat in the #40 Minardi PS05-Cosworth at Friday's first practice session. Nissany drove a car on his 42nd birthday, on July 29.
His pace was more than twelve seconds slower than the fastest car in the field and his run ended in a gravel trap after a spin. At subsequent Grands Prix events, Nissany was replaced by another test driver Enrico Toccacelo.