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I-Team: Canadian race crew held at U.S. border in Houlton for 72 hours

A Maine race car driver is raising questions after his team's car and equipment were stopped at the Canadian border in Houlton for more than three days. CTSY: Cassius Clark

STATEWIDE (WGME) -- A Maine race car driver is raising questions after his team's car and equipment were stopped at the Canadian border in Houlton for more than three days.

Cassius Clark is in North Carolina, preparing to compete at the Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday.

"It's a big 300 lap race called the Mason Dixon Meltdown," said Clark.

But first, he and his crew are racing against the clock.

The King Racing team is waiting on its race car and equipment to arrive from Nova Scotia. The truck and its two drivers were held up by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the Canadian border in Houlton for more than 72 hours, told they couldn't cross.

"They got all the paperwork that's got us through many, many times and never had any issues," Clark said.

Clark said it's all of the same American-made items they brought into the U.S. back in August for the Oxford 250 and to several other races earlier this year.

"They were asking what my fire suit was made out of, the fuel can jugs, the easy up tent, the lawn chairs," he said. "Just ridiculous things."

Stephanie Malin, a public affairs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, said the team didn't have proper importation documents, pointing to an EPA rule that says cars used for racing with money involved require a Temporary Importation Bond from a broker.

"All of us have been on our phones, e-mailing, talking to everybody since Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock, trying to get this to go through," said Clark.

The truck was finally allowed through Friday afternoon, after word spread on social media through #Freethe13. Clark said he also reached out to Maine's Congressional delegation for help.

"If it's just bureaucratic red tape, let's cut through it," said Senator Angus King, I-Maine.

Clark still can't understand why this time was different.

Malin said there have not been any changes to the requirements or policy.

When the I-Team asked whether there was a lack of enforcement in the past, Malin said she can't speak to prior entries, but "for this specific importation, the facts dictated that the requirements had not been met."

She also said, "a variety of things are taken into consideration to determine requirements with each entry however, including the destination of travel, the value of the imported vehicle and equipment, whether the owner of the vehicle is present, whether the races are for monetary purposes, etc."

It's a 20 hour drive to Hickory, so Clark said the equipment won't arrive quickly enough for time trials, but if all goes as planned, they will get the chance to compete in the race.

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