UPDATE: As of 4:30 p.m. ET Speed51.com has received word that the King Racing team has cleared the border and is on their way to Hickory Motor Speedway, hoping to make the 20-hour drive in time for Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown qualifying on Saturday.
Cassius Clark's King Racing team, based out of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, has been stuck at the Canadian border into the State of Maine for over 70 hours as they attempt to make their way to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for this weekend's PASS Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown.
Clark of Farmington, ME, his crew chief Andrew Hicken and car owner Rollie MacDonald are already in North Carolina awaiting the arrival of their race car for Saturday's race. Although the driver, crew chief and car owner are where they need to be, the race car, tools and hauler have not yet been allowed access into the United States of America.
Since the team rolled up to the border crossing in Houlton, ME on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., the team has filled out numerous pieces of paperwork in order to be compliant and spent over $1,500 in an attempt to cross the border.
"At first, it was the EPA rating that they gave us a hard time about. They couldn't do anything without that, the brokers couldn't do anything without that," Clark told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "We called Ann Arbor, Michigan and talked to the guy that's in charge of importing race cars into the US and that guy gave us all the paperwork that we needed. We gave that to the brokers and the brokers in Houlton wouldn't even touch it; they won't do anything with race cars. We had to find somebody on the West Coast, someone is trying to help us right now to do the import bond and all of that. They're complaining about what my firesuit is made out of, fuel jugs, the easy-up tent, the oil in the race car, lawn chairs, you can't even imagine."
Throughout the 2017 racing season, Clark's team has made their way into the country numerous times to compete in events such as the Oxford 250 held at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. They've never had a problem like they've had this time.
"The guy from the EPA said, 'Oh Jesus, I can't believe they let you into the US.' You need to have this or whatever, so we got that. But it's never been an issue," Clark stated. "You roll up and we know the people there. Everybody is saying to go to this border or that border, but you can't do that at this point. They call it border jumping and it's kind of big news right now, so they're going to know. We're kind of stuck where we're at right now."
As the race hauler is stuck at the border, Clark and his team are busy filling out forms and making more phone calls. While working in a hotel business center on Thursday night, he posted a video on his Facebook page showing 22 pages of paperwork that the team had already filled out.
"We spent all day yesterday, all day the day before and all this morning trying to get things done," Clark began. "They're not doing anything illegal, they're just coming down here to race. We're not buying anything, selling anything, it's all of the same stuff that we've had when we've come to the US and raced ten times already this year. We're filling out the paperwork and we're willing to do whatever they want for paperwork, but obviously it's getting time sensitive now. We're 1200 or 1300 miles away and missed today's practice, yesterday's practice and there's an hour tomorrow. If they don't leave within the next hour, they're not even going to physically be at the race track by seven o'clock tomorrow morning."
Since Clark began to make the story public, a #FreeThe13 campaign has been running strong on social media as race fans do their part to bring awareness to the story and help the team gain access into the country.
Currently, Clark is working with the offices of Maine's two U.S. Senators, Bruce Poliquin and Susan Collins, to see if they can assist his team in getting into the United States.
"We talked to Poliquin's office yesterday from Washington D.C. My friend's dad, he's in the house from Wilton, and (Susan) Collins' office, she just called me ten minutes ago and they're supposed to call me back. We've got to sign off with a release form that she can go ahead and contact the border for us. But it's still no guarantee."
With no time to waste, as soon as the team gets the go-ahead, the truck drivers who have been stuck at the border for over 70 hours will be ready for the 20-hour drive to North Carolina.
"They're on standby. As soon as we get the go-ahead, they're going to have to drive all this time."
Speed51.com reached out to the U.S. Customs and Border Protections office at the Houlton port of entry for comment. Public Affairs Officer (New England) Stephanie Malin responded via email with the following statement:
"While I cannot get into the specific details of the inspection, I can confirm the individuals were not detained at the port of entry at all. The issue is related to a lack of proper importation documents required for importing a vehicle for racing purposes.
"Nonresidents may import an automobile or motorcycle and its usual equipment free of duty for a temporary stay to take part in races or other specific purposes. However, prior written approval from the EPA is required and such approval is granted only to those racing vehicles that EPA deems not capable of safe or practical use on streets and highways. If the contests are for other than money purposes, the vehicle may be admitted for 90 days without formal entry or bond however, for automobiles being used for races with monetary purposes, a formal Temporary Importation Bond from a broker is required."
If Clark's No. 13 Super Late Model is able to make it across the border in time, race fans will be able to watch him compete via a live pay-per-view broadcast of the Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown on Speed51.com.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com