Nesma FG1000 Racing Team

When the checkered flag came down in the final race of the season at the Dubai Autodrome in April, first-time FG1000 participant, Mashour Bal Hejailia raced across the finish line in 3rd place, earning him the points needed to finish 3rd in the standings for the 14-race season. An impressive debut for Mashour and an impressive debut for Nesma in its first outing as a racing sponsor.

Without sponsorship, racing would be prohibitively expensive. Nesma made its debut on the FG1000 racing circuit that alternates between Dubai’s Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

“My job,” says Mashour, “is, first, to be the quickest. But, also, I represent the company.”

For Nesma, in addition to the public exposure it receives, Mashour’s sponsorship is part of a CSR program to promote smart and safe driving and to show young drivers that driving fast on a closed circuit is an acceptable sport. Driving fast on public roads is not.

As many professional drivers who have come before him, Mashour started racing at a very young age, taking up Go-Kart racing at the age of 13 during a family vacation in the south of France. He honed his driving skills there every summer and, then, when he moved to Dubai to start university in 2002, he was surprised to find that his hobby was hugely popular there.

“Go-kart racing was a big sport in Dubai,” Mashour remembers, “and, of course, I wanted to get involved. I began participating in 24-hour races and, before long, I found myself racing with some of the top drivers in the UAE.”

In 2004, with his family’s help, Mashour purchased his first Rotax Go Kart, the crème de la crème of go karts. Then, over the next four years, he established himself as one of the finest drivers on the UAE Rotax circuit.

In 2011, Mashour joined Formula BMW, which was holding races at Al Reem racetrack in Riyadh. Formula BMW is generally considered the first step from go karts to single-seater, open-wheel racing.

Although he dreamed of continuing his climb up the racing ladder, his family protested. For four years, he did not race. Some dreams die hard while others do not die, at all.

“You have to do what you really love,” Mashour says. “I told my family that racing on a closed track with professional drivers is one of the safest sports in the world.”

His family acquiesced. FG1000 had a Saudi driver on its roster.

“It was a roller coaster ride,” he says looking back on his first season racing FG1000, “but, in the end, it all worked out for us.”