IndyCar Series teams load in for 7,800-mile trip to Australia
One by one, IndyCar Series teams headed to the Indianapolis International Airport on Oct. 14. Under cloudy skies, they dropped off cars and equipment to be loaded onto two 747 airplanes. The next time they see the equipment it should be under sunny skies along the beachfront streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia.
The enormous undertaking of transporting the necessary racing goods for the 24 cars that will compete Oct. 24-26 in the Nikon Indy 300 actually began immediately after the Sept. 9 race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Nearly 500 Firestone Firehawk tires, 90 55-gallon drums of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol and three Delphi Safety Team vehicles were trucked out to Los Angeles where they were loaded onto a ship. The ship left port Sept. 17 and arrived in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 9.
At the airport in Indianapolis, two days before the 747s are scheduled to take off, John Dininger, coordinator of operations for the IndyCar Series, supervised the organized chaos as the parade of transporters arrived and a half-dozen forklifts moved crates.
As teams unloaded, members of the 35-person crew on site looked over manifests before everything was weighed, stacked on rolling pallets, shrink-wrapped, covered with a weatherproof net and moved to a holding area ready to be loaded onto the plane.
Each team is allowed 9,000 pounds of equipment in addition to its race cars. The 13 teams are taking 36 cars.
“Our biggest challenge for this trip is the space,” Dininger said. “On our previous trips to Japan, we’ve typically had 18 entrants instead of 24. That’s why we shipped some things early, to free up space on the planes. We’re doing a lot more consolidating of the freight to make sure it fits.”
Once loaded with the 400,000 pounds of equipment, the two planes – one Air New Zealand and one Atlas Air - will fly from Indianapolis to Brisbane, Australia, with fuel stops in Los Angeles, Honolulu and Fiji.
“We arrive on Saturday (Oct. 18), and the teams arrive on (Oct. 22),” Dininger said. “We’re on track Oct. 24, 25 and 26 and then we’ll load it all up again and come home.”