Getting Race Cars To And From The Event Is Almost As Exciting As The Race Itself

Gibson Freight, a major freight com­pany in Fiji has an Australian based business specialising in sports and en­tertainment logistics. This highly specialised niche market has some very unusual demands and
14 Jul 2018 11:00
Getting Race Cars To And From The Event Is Almost As Exciting As The Race Itself
Melbourne is the venue for the Formula One Season each year

Gibson Freight, a major freight com­pany in Fiji has an Australian based business specialising in sports and en­tertainment logistics.

This highly specialised niche market has some very unusual demands and their story shows what lateral thinking and a passion for the business can do.

A significant segment of the Australian sports market is motor race movements for Formula One, Moto GP, World Superbikes, Supercars and others.

All movements involve the use of multiple 747F freighter aircraft on charter, each capa­ble of uplifting a 138,000kgs payload.

Melbourne is season opener form the For­mula One World Championship series each year.

Race cars, support equipment and televi­sion transmitting apparatus arrives at Brit­ish Midlands and other European airports a week before the race weekend for uplift to Avalon Airport, Melbourne, aboard seven dedicated Boeing 747 freighter aircraft.

Six weeks before that, 50 x 40 foot contain­ers of race team catering, promotional mate­rial and pit bay fit out will have been shipped to the Port of Melbourne for transfer and in­stallation in the race circuit paddock, team chateaus, pit garages and Pirelli tyre com­pound.

Gibson Freight contract

Gibson Freight is contracted by event pro­moter, Australian Grand Prix Corporation, to handle Customs and Quarantine clear­ance, transportation from the Melbourne Port to Albert Park Formula One Circuit, unpack containers and distribute contents within the circuit precinct – a public park.

They also transfer freight from seven ar­riving charter flights to trucks at Avalon Airport for transportation and positioning at Albert Park Formula One Circuit televi­sion compounds and Formula One team pit garages.

Approximately 1,000 tonnes of team and television aircraft unit load devices (ULD’s) is transferred ex airport and positioned in the 48 hour window between aircraft arrival on Sunday midnight and Tuesday, when un­packing of team and television ULD’s must be completed and empty ULD’s loaded on trailers for storage until pack up Sunday of race day.

Albert Park Formula One race takes place on public roads in a park with public access restricted from midnight Tuesday pre race weekend until midnight Monday post race

Lifting off/on and unpacking 50 x 40 root containers plus trucking and positioning 1,000 tonnes of airfreight into parkland and roads with heavy public usage represents a major public safety challenge which Gibson Freight must overcome to the satisfaction of police, Australian Grand Prix Corporation H & S management, and other authorities.

After the race the pack up and movement is an almost unbelievable logistics achieve­ment.

The Race finishes about 5pm, team pack up cannot commence until empty aircraft unit load devices stored on approximately 30 pre loaded trailers at Avalon Airport are returned to team garages.

The 30 truck convoy cannot enter the event precinct for safety reasons until 100,000 spec­tators have departed, which happens by 8pm.

Approximately 120 empty aircraft contain­ers are unloaded and distributed to teams by Gibson Freight for team packing, an all night exercise made more difficult by cold and rain for which Melbourne is well known.

Truck loading for return to Avalon Airport commences at 6am.

Formula One calendar

The Formula One calendar can schedule races just one week apart hence it is neces­sary for Gibson Freight to have up to 138 tonnes for the first departing flight at Ava­lon unloaded, weighed and freight aboard the first charter flight of seven with an ETD of 10.30am Monday.

Synchronised circuit/ airport truck move­ment continues throughout Monday until departure of the seventh charter flight at about midnight. Formula One must exit Al­bert Park Circuit by midnight Monday when it reverts to full public access.

Race cars and equipment may be required at a circuit in another country by midday post race Tuesday. Melbourne public also want their roads and parklands back by mid­night Monday.

All of this means that Gibson Freight must move around 1,000 tonnes of airfreight out of the parkland into the air in the 18 hours between 6am Sunday and departure of the seventh and final charter flight at midnight Monday.

This is certainly the biggest Australian logistics challenge each year and has been since Gibson Freight commenced working with Formula One way back in 1985.

“Moto GP”, The World Championship of motorcycling racing takes place at Austral­ia’s Phillip Island Circuit near Melbourne in October each year. Gibson Freight also han­dles logistics for this event.

There is a small, enthusiastic group of sports motor cycles riders in Fiji who no doubt follow “Moto GP”.

As with Formula One, deadlines are ex­tremely tight, with arrival at Avalon Airport of race bikes and support equipment from the Japanese Moto GP event on Tuesday with a requirement that the 600 tonne con­tent of four 747 freighter aircraft be in team garages at Phillip Island Circuit, 250kms away the following day.

Outbound movement is even tighter with the first of 40 truck rotations from Phillip Is­land Circuit to Avalon Airport departing at 8pm for a loading to the first of the four 747 charter aircraft departing for Kuala Lumpur over the following 48 hours.

Perhaps the most spectacular and difficult of motorsport uplifts is V8 Supercars. Side entry door height of a 747 freighter aircraft is three metres. A full 32 Supercars field, in­cluding pace cars, must be double stacked onto 16 purpose built racks of a height not exceeding 3 metres so they fit through the door. Not easy as Supercars are big, mostly Holden’s and Fords, with pace cars every­thing from Porsches to Chryslers.

Economicsof staging Supercar events

Economics of staging Supercar events out­side of Australia determine that 32 cars and support equipment must be transportable by no more than two Gibson Freight char­tered 747 freighter aircraft.

Gibson Freight has so far uplifted the whole Supercar field to race tracks in Shang­hai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Austin Texas and Auckland.

As always with motorsport movements scheduling is tight with the two Supercar charter aircraft departing from overseas for Avalon Airport within 24 hours of the chequered flag dropping signalling the end of race day.

V8 Supercars is tight, wheel to wheel rac­ing. Damage is frequent, sometimes to the extent that cars must be forklifted onto dou­ble stacked racks rather than rolled into po­sition. Almost the whole field suffers some damag

At a “flyaway” event hence there is a need for uplift within 24 hours so cars can be re­paired at their Australian bases ready for the next event.

Trucking double stacked cars between overseas airports and race tracks requires special low profile trailers. Overhead obsta­cles such as bridges can be lower than the 4.6 metre combined height of double stacked race cars on standard profile trailers.

Three Gibson Freight personal fly on char­ter aircraft positioned with flight crew in the 747 upper deck bubble.

Top and bottom car rack decks are strapped together with base decks secured to the air­craft floor by a series of locks. Straps can loosen from the heat of Asian and Middle Eastern sun during the aircraft loading pro­cess.

When turbulence is encountered Gibson Freight personnel are required to descend to the aircraft main deck and tighten straps to prevent excess movement of top racked cars. Not a lot of fun during storms and other tur­bulence. Compliance with Customs, Quar­antine and other import/ export regulations that vary from country to country is another challenge. Homeland Security regulations require that Gibson Freight personnel hav­ing cockpit access, as they do, to undergo full security checks and carry appropriate credentials.

There are many other motorsport global movements by sea and air undertaken by Gibson Freight. These include “One Make International Series” for exotic sports cars such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi and Porsche. Expertise in motorsport logistics developed over 40 years has established Gib­son Freight in this specialist global market.

Gibson Freight are also major players in Australian music and theatre logistics handling market tour trucking for Rolling Stones, Pink, AC/ DC amongst others. Again the music its own special demands and chal­lenges and Gibson Freight has the experi­ence needed to meet these demands


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