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.
The 2009 Joe Gibbs Driven...
The 2009 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Champion, Tommy Cloce, will be one of the drivers making the trip to South Africa.
"Through the efforts of the Premier, and those of Mr. Dan Kgothule (a member of the Executive Council for Sport, Arts, Culture, and Recreation in the Free State Provincial Government) and Mr. Pillay, the American drivers will be welcomed with open arms and hospitality that will be second-to-none. The 'Championship' will not only assist in helping increase the skills of the South African drivers, but also showcase their talent on a national and international arena," said Huth.
On the flip side, the American drivers invited will not only get a chance to compete on one of the finest racetracks outside of the United States, but will enjoy many off-track opportunities to see the various sights of South Africa; this includes a private tour of "Savannah" the wildlife preserve that holds the distinction of being just one of three accredited worldwide breeders of the Cheetah, an endangered species.
To get the South African drivers up to speed with the big heavy American stock cars, Huth has enlisted the help of the DriveTech Driving School. Already the "official driving school of ASA," DriveTech instructors will make the trek to South Africa to help the local competitors learn the nuances of oval track racing in advance of the actual race.
The cars will use an electronically...
The cars will use an electronically fuel injected LS3-based engine from Schwanke Engines of Springfield, Minnesota.
Teams entered in the race will use former NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, the first 10 of which are already in South Africa. In a bold step, Huth and his ASA tech team have developed a special motor option for the race based on Chevrolet's LS3 aluminum block. Rated at 525 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, the motor boasts a host of goodies like aluminum heads, custom pistons, and a hydraulic roller cam and is built by Schwanke Engines of Springfield, Minnesota. But get this, it's fuel injected. That's right, this race motor comes complete with an EFI PCM and custom wiring harness along with an L92 truck intake and a 90mm throttle body with 36-pound injectors.
The reasoning behind going with fuel injection won't be all that surprising to savvy subscribers of this magazine who have read the last few issues. "Everyone that I have talked to including my own technical team at ASA is telling me that EFI is the cutting edge of the future of motorsports," says Huth. "It will give us a definite advantage in terms of policing the rules and keeping a level playing field on the race track, plus it is a cost savings for each competitor."
The race will be televised live on South Africa's No. 1 sports network, but ASA holds the broadcast rights for the rest of the world so you will no doubt be able to see it on your own television perhaps as early as February 2010.
Rising NASCAR Star Marc Davis...
Rising NASCAR Star Marc Davis (left), pictured here with Joey Logano, will be making the trip to South Africa as well.
"The 'Championship Between the Continents' is designed to foster friendship, competition, and knowledge both on-and-off the racetrack between South Africa and the United Stated. I have no doubt this will be a life-changing experience for those who attend from both our countries and that this will foster a bond that goes beyond just a motorsports competition," said Huth.
With a four-year deal in place in South Africa, a new generation of EFI motors, and an innovative approach to event management, ASA is beginning to build a foundation for international stock car competition of the future. Could we be looking at the beginning of the ASA Transcontinental Stock Car Series? You bet.