In November 1998 a major international motorsport racing series – The Thoroughbred Grand Prix held a race in South Africa.
This event was being used as a test case by FIA to ascertain whether South Africa was capable of holding a F1 Grand Prix as the last event was in 1992.
The historic Formula 1 race cars are extremely valuable and Avis Forklift’s capabilities were scrutinised and after many vetting sessions we were awarded this prestigious contract. A major feather in our cap was the fact that we were the sole supplier of handling equipment to the FIA sanctioned F1 Grand Prix held at Kyalami in 1992.
Avis Forklift’s contract was to provide a complete logistics solution from the supply of forklifts, forklift operators, trucks, handling staff, and mobile cranes to offload 6m and 12m containers in the pit lane of Kyalami racetrack in Midrand. We even provided catering and sunscreen to the UK freight forwarders!
During this maiden event it quickly became evident that a mobile crane was too cumbersome in the narrow and congested space of the pit lane, so in 1999 Avis Forklift was again awarded the logistics contract and to improve the process of offloading historic F1 cars worth millions of Pounds we hired a side lifter which in those days was virtually unheard of in South Africa.
The sidelifter was invaluable in handling the containers safely and in a confined space. The time spent from placing the containers on the ground and offloading the racing cars was halved from 1998, so a huge improvement.
As is Avis Forklift’s philosophy of ensuring excellent service, in 2001 we decided to buy our own sidelifter as the year before unit we had to rent from Botswana just for the race, which was nerve racking as we waited for the unit to arrive track side.
With great fanfare our brand new Steelbro sidelifter arrived from New Zealand, and a month later in September 2001 the catastrophic events of 911 in America sparked off a chain of events and unfortunately the Grand Prix series leg to South Africa was permanently cancelled, which left us with a dilemma – we had spent R2,500,000 on this new sidelifter rig and now we were without a customer, so true to form Avis Forklift saw an opportunity and established a new division – “Avis ContainerLift”. From exciting times and from one international customer we now have a well-established business that has handled and transported thousands of containers all over South Africa and into neighbouring territories – Lesotho and Botswana.