Journal San Felipe 250 - the Countdown to the first victory From my departure from the snowy town of Ehrwald in Austria to our exciting first win in the heat of Mexico I kept a journal. Read about our preparations and practice in the ...
Journal San Felipe 250 - the Countdown to the first victory
From my departure from the snowy town of Ehrwald in Austria to our exciting first win in the heat of Mexico I kept a journal. Read about our preparations and practice in the desert today. In two weeks you can read how I experienced our race in the cockpit.
Saturday 8th March
The first leg: From Austria's mountains to Escondido I pack my overalls, clothes and team uniform.
Great! I have some time to play and relax with the kids.
19:30 - 22:00
We have dinner with friends.
Off to bed!
Sunday 9th March
05:30 Up early, pack the final things. Outside is fresh snow and it's slippery - that will be super practice and the roads will be clear.
06:45 Depart for Munich airport, the autobahn is empty.
08:20 Arrive and park. I always park outside - it's much cheaper than at the airport.
08:45 Arrive airport, check in. My upgrade into Business class worked! Yahoo! I'll have electricity to work and plenty of room on board!
09:00 I grab something to read, all the newspapers I can get my hands on.
10:20 A quick call home.
11:05 Take off. Munich to Los Angeles takes around eleven hours. I work for almost the entire flight and organise all the details for our great upcoming event in Dresden and the Lausitz.
15:40 US-Zeit Arrive Los Angeles, "Immigration" takes almost two hours - heck, it's like Fort Knox! I almost fall asleep at the airport.
18:40 Flight to Karlsbad, which takes about 40 minutes. From Karlsbad it's only 20 minutes to the workshop in Escondido.
19:30 Arrival, a short wait for my luggage. Martin's there to pick me up.
20:10 Arrival in workshop, we look at the seat and pedals. The brakes will be much better with the new master cylinder. We discuss how and when we want to drive tomorrow. Quick bite to eat with Martin. We are all excited about the San Felipe.
22:50 Arrive hotel, short shower and I sleep like a log. < /tr> Monday 10th March Preparations begin, we drive to Mexico
07:00 I can't sleep anymore. I send some email that I'd written during the flight.
08:30 Martin picks me up. We meet up with Norman, Clemens and Klaus from RTL TV and drive to the workshop together.
09:30 Unload and stow some smaller bits and pieces, Norman and Clemens mount cameras on the practice buggy - the Prerunner.
11:30 Return to the workshop.
12:00 We grab something to eat at a Chinese place. The portions are simply huge. A half-litre of Coca Cola - crazy!
13:00 Depart workshop, we all refuel. Bryan, Martin and Bruce drive trailers or campervans - all extremely large vehicles.
17:20 We reach the border in Mexicali, crossing is no problem, no wait and no immigration control.
18:00 Refuel, buy drinks, snacks and drive on. Martin wants to reach Petes Camp before dark. Getting a parking spot there is hard.
20:30 The military has set up a roadblock. They're looking for drugs. Threatening atmosphere. Arrival in Petes Camp: Fantastic! It's on the Pacific!
21:50 Finally, all the vehicles are parked. Norman, Clemens, Klaus and I have a house in the middle of nowhere, three miles from the camp. But it's new!
22:10 We drive back along the road to get something to eat: Tacos und Corona!
23:30 Return to our house and sleep straight away.
Tuesday 11th March
Der Prerunner feels good and easy - Practice begins
06:00 Get up, RTL TV want to film the sun rising over the ocean.
06:30 We drive to Petes Camp. It's still dark and the air is somewhat fresh. Wonderful!
07:00 We wake up Martin, Bryan and the Crew, quick coffee and toast, get the Prerunner ready and packed, don't forget the water, that's crucial.
07:30 We drive up and down the beach a couple of times for the camera. The Prerunner feels good and easy.
08:20 Practice begins - here they call it the Prerun. We have a new Stand21 helmet to test. We still have our jackets on but the sun is warming up.
08:45 We start at Race Mile 10. We have to write pace notes and GPS points - I haven't driven this part before. The first 40 miles are almost straight. But unbelievably bumpy. I mean big, big bumps - over and over! We drive in the 20s - hell, this i s a Trophy Truck track.
10:20 We stop, drink and discuss the various lines. Our navigators Bryan and Chris compare their pace notes and GPS points. It's not easy. There are so many different lines that we wouldn't find them without GPS. So we have to be totally familiar with the route.
12:45 I know this section a little from 2006: Super quick with many long straights followed by a sharp corner. It's like an oven now. The "dry lake bed", a dried-up lake, is fantastic. Everything is glimmering and seems endless. Dust devils race over the dry, barren land.
14:00 We finally reach our change-over point after 122 miles. Martin is waiting impatiently, we quickly eat a sandwich, drink something, refuel and continue.
14:20 Martin takes over the driving. I sit in the back, Martin & Chris in front, Norman with his camera beside me in the back - the Prerunner has room for four.
14:50 The character of the track changes completely, narrow, rocky and rough, lots of bushes and cacti, it suits our Buggy - shit; we could have done with this earler!
16:20 Short stop, we take a look at a couple of lines through the undergrowth, drink, and carry on. Non-stop shuddering , a couple of motorbikes pass us. We see about six other competitors during the Prerun, mostly motorbikes.
19:00 Darkness falls and we have another ten miles. It's getting cold so we put on our jackets. You have to have everything with you during the Prerun. Even for one night in the desert.
20:30 We are back at Petes Camp and go for something to eat.
22:10 Chris und Bryan disappear in the motorhome. They have to write up their pace notes and GPS positions for tomorrow. Sam and Bruce check the Prerunner.
23:00 We are back at our house, showered and dead tired, fall into bed and sleep.
Wednesday 12th March
Practice, part two - and the pace notes aren't correct anymore
06:00 Get up, shower and we head off to the Camp.
06:30 Martin, Chris and Bryan are still really tired. It takes some time until they get moving. We make coffee and enjoy the stunning view out to the Pacific!
07:20 We all have breakfast together. Refuel prerunner, check the tyres, oil and other minor things.
08:45 Head off to the Prerun. Today we drive to the start and from there over the route. It's directly on the city limits of San Felipe on the main road. Great!
09:20 We take notes and GPS positions right from the start. After just 200 metres we hit gravel.
A fork. From here it's only oops, oops, oops and again oops! This is not Buggy country - and the pace notes from yesterday don't match either. The mood has been better. We drive back and forth. Bryan tries to find the start of the track that Chris had made notes for. We have lost orientation. This takes a lot of time. Thankfully you can't drive quickly here anyway. We take many new GPS positions.
11:45 We take a break, discuss the GPS matters and pace notes.
11:55 We continue towards the dry lake bed. The GPS and notes become better, but are still not really good, there are many changes.
15:00 Finally at the change-over. Martin will have to drive into the night again. Sorry for that!
16:45 Bruce tests the radio the whole afternoon. He made himself comfortable up on a hill and keeps the contact between the Prerunner and service truck. This must work during the race in case of problems, and in order to keep us updated concerning our position. This can be decisive for the race outcome.
19:00 Back at Petes Camp.
19:45 Short shower and dinner, Misty BBQs and looks after the whole team. The boys are still working on the race car, the final preparations. Misty has to nag them to come, otherwise they wouldn't eat.
21:45 We drive home, Norman, Clemens, Klaus and I drink a cold beer and talk about the following day's film schedule. We'll have Steve there with his helicopter. I go to bed. Th e days are damn long and hard, but the work is exciting and rewarding.
Read herw in two weeks: Cowboy breakfast and a bad surprise with the shocks ...
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