Typically when you visit your local track or a superspeedway, you will find a plethora of haulers in the pits carrying the precious cargo otherwise known as a stock car. For the American Speed Association Transcontinental Series, a hauler is going to be replaced with a 40 foot container containing two stock cars along with tires and tools on its way to Welkom, South Africa.
Andrew Senter of Southern Export Services based out of College Park, GA is overseeing the challenge of shipping the cars and equipment from the United States over to the Phakisa Freeway Oval in Welkom, South Africa for the ASA Free State 500 event on January 31, 2010.
Currently, five containers are currently on their way to South Africa with plenty more to be shipped out in the next 30 days. "We are sending two cars going on an 40 foot ocean container and then they go on an ocean cargo ship that can handle 4000-5000 containers at a time," Senter explained. "We have already shipped out three from Port of Charleston(SC) and two from Port of Long Beach(CA)." The cargo could take up to 6-8 weeks to reach the Port of Durban, South Africa. The cargo leaving the Port of Charleston will either stop and be transferred in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Antwerp, Belgium or Hamburg, Germany while the Port of Long Beach shipments will either go through Singapore or Hong Kong.
Most of the containers will be going out of the Port of Charleston, "We find a warehouse in Charleston and the team arrives at that warehouse and meets me," Senter said. "Together we load the containers and strap, brace and block the cars and any other parts that go in that container. They can use all of that container and you try to maximize that space but you are limited in that sense that you cannot put anything on top of the cars. In Long Beach, we built wooden platforms above the cars and it gives you like two to three feet of space and you can put your tires, wheels and other items in there."
One of the containers that is already en route to South Africa are cars for Ron Barfield Jr., owner of Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, SC, an ASA Member Track. Barfield will be driving one of the cars at Phakisa. This is not the first time that he has prepared a car to race overseas as he journeyed with Dennis Huth, ASA President, to compete at the 1996 NASCAR event at the Suzuka Circuit.
"When we got to the shipping dock a couple of weeks ago, Andrew looked at me and said, you have done this before right?" Barfield said laughing. "Then he asked if I was going to be able to get everything in that container? I said, you know what, I will have about two inches to leave before we close the door. Andrew looked at me and said, son you don't have it in there yet. He was joking around with me but the only thing we didn't get in there was the generator but I had two inches to spare when I closed the door."
Senter is very familiar with shipping race cars. Southern Export is an international freight forwarder that does air and ocean import & export. They have offices in Atlanta, Tulsa, Chattanooga and Charlotte. They specialize in aerospace, perishables and motorsports. They oversee the shipment of the Porsche and Audi LeMans Series teams when they compete overseas.
When it comes to transporting cars to another country, Senter starts out by looking at how long it will take to get from point A to point B. Then he gets approval from U.S. Customs to export any motor vehicle from the United States and imported into South Africa. An ATA carnet, or a merchandise passport for boomerang freight, is then filled out with details of everything that is going to be shipped in the container. When it goes to ship, Customs will then approve the carnet by saying that what is on the carnet is in the container and it usually needs no further export approval. When it arrives in South Africa, South African Customs will either accept the carnet that was signed by U.S. Customs or do their own inspection at the Port of Durban. From there, a crane will load each container onto a semi for it to be transported to Phakisa Freeway Circuit waiting for the teams to arrive and unload for the event. After the event, the same thing happens to return the cargo to the United States.
With this event happening during the off-season in the United States, the decision to ship the cars by boat versus by air as other race teams and organizations do was more for a cost savings reason. "Other teams ship their cars by air because they don't have six weeks to sit and wait for their cars," Senter explained.
"They want their cars up to the last minute and they are still working on the car until its time to depart and as soon as it lands, they want it back in their hands again. For many stock cars, they don't race again until the event in January, so they can ship it for a third to a quarter of the price of what it would cost by air."
So far Senter is enjoying his experience with the ASA teams in preparing to ship their cars over to this inaugural event, "They are very excited, for these teams to pick up and go somewhere exotic like South Africa for the first time and for the first race, oh yeah they are very excited," Senter said. "Its a big deal for these teams. They may not have tons of money that the big companies or factory teams have. They are doing pretty good, they are excited and I think it will be great."
The final shipment will head out on December 7th.
For more information on Southern Export, please visit their website at www.southernexport.com.
To learn more about Phakisa Freeway, visit www.phakisa.com.
To learn more of the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based American Speed Association call (386) 258-2221 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and information from all the racetracks and regional tours involved in the ASA, visit www.ASA-Racing.com.
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