Mr. Dhilosen Pillay, CEO of...
Mr. Dhilosen Pillay, CEO of the Phakisa Major Sports Events and Development Corporation shakes hands with Dennis Huth, President of ASA after inking a four-year deal to bring American stock car racing to South Africa.
In the mid-fall of 2009, the American Speed Association (ASA) announced that it had developed an international motorsport contest for stock cars in conjunction with the Free State Provincial Government of South Africa. Dubbed the "Championship Between the Continents-South Africa versus USA Motorsports," this transcontinental event will feature a 207-lap, 500-Kilometer event at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, South Africa on January 29-31, 2010.
The event marks the first time ASA will venture outside of North America and will be part of the "South African Speedweeks" which will see various racing-themed activities surrounding the race. Competing in the event will be on an invitation only basis and feature drivers from both the United States and South Africa. American drivers already committed to the race include 2009 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Champion Tommy Cloce, 1986 Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine, and rising NASCAR star Marc Davis.
ASA President Dennis Huth said that the program to put on the event came together fairly quickly. "We had several meetings and during my first trip over there we were already talking about details. I am truly humbled that the Honourable Free State Premier Magashule not only took the time to listen to the proposal for the 'Championship Between the Continents' but immediately saw the value and impact that this historical program will have for South Africa," said Huth.
ASA will utilize former NASCAR...
ASA will utilize former NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, similar to these of Joe Gibbs Racing, in the late January contest.
Ace Magashule, the Honourable Free State Premier of South Africa echoed Huth's enthusiasm. "Everyone involved with the Free State Province is extremely excited about the 'Championship Between the Continents' and looks forward to hosting the American drivers. We recently concluded a very successful 2009 Soccer Confederation Cup championship as a prelude to hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament. This stock car race will be another opportunity for the Free State Province to showcase our beautiful country on a worldwide stage. When the idea was presented to us by Mr. Huth there was no question that this was the type of event our country should be involved with and an excellent manner to promote racing at our own Phakisa Freeway Circuit. January is a beautiful time to visit South Africa as it is our summer and the Phakisa racetrack will impress those who come to compete in the event."
Phakisa Freeway Circuit is a multi-purpose racing facility featuring a 1.5-mile oval which is where the "Championship Between the Continents" will be contested. This D-shaped oval, located southwest of Johannesburg, is reminiscent of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"This event will enhance the skills of our South African racing drivers by having them compete against, and learn from, some of the top American racing champions. The American Speed Association will bring to us the experience to put on a first-class event and help to position this race on the worldwide stage," explained Dhilosen Pillay, the Chief Executive Officer of the Phakisa Major Sports Events and Development Corporation.
Pillay is also excited about the fact that the announcement named ASA Racing International as the exclusive International Stock Car Sanctioning organization for 4 years at Phakisa. They will be working closely with Motorsport South Africa (MSA), the controlling body of all motorsports in South Africa, on future events. "The 'Championship Between the Continents' will also build a foundation to utilize our state-of-the-art facility for now and well into the future," he said.
International stock car competition is not necessarily something new with NASCAR having made visits to Australia and Japan before creating the Mexico and Canada races closer to home. But the ASA venture has a decidedly different flavor to it with the blending of drivers from both countries in on track competition designed to build a foundation for the future.