Pre-Run: The adventure begins before the race At frequent intervals alarm bells ring in my brain: "This is going to hurt! Tense muscles, keep your arms inside the car, eyes closed and wait until the crash is over." I'm harnessed into the back...
Pre-Run: The adventure begins before the race
At frequent intervals alarm bells ring in my brain: "This is going to hurt! Tense muscles, keep your arms inside the car, eyes closed and wait until the crash is over." I'm harnessed into the back seat of our pre-runner behind the driver. Ahead of me I see Martin Christensen's helmet and back. In front of Martin a huge bump rises up out of the desert and rapidly speeds towards us. Bushes, cacti, and pieces of rock fly alongside. Under me things crash and bang as if our Buggy is about to break into a thousand pieces. Martin keeps his foot down. Then it's on us: The Buggy simply seems to iron out the bump with its endless wheel-travel. It shakes itself off and the monster bump is behind us. This will happen dozens of times this day, and not one of the boys in the All German Motorsports team finds that particularly unusual.
This is roughly how I remember my first pre-run experience for the Baja 1000 in the special pre-runner of the All German Motorsports team.
You read right in the first paragraph: I sat behind my team boss and driver colleague Martin Christensen. Our pre-run car has four seats. And swapping places has many good reasons. In this way in a two-car team both crews - that's driver and navigator - can practice at the same time. We swap over to take the wheel and the navigator's GPS. Moreover, it allows the driver in the back to look around for possible short cuts or faster tracks.
The four-seater has another very handy advantage: We can take a mechanic with us on certain sections. To have a craftsman on board is worth his weight in gold! Time and again this has proven to be extr emely handy - the desert in south-west USA and Mexico is big...real big. And even with our virtually indestructible buggy there are all sorts of possibilities to stall in the middle of nowhere. The cell phone doesn't work here. And even if I could reach my team with the satellite phone it could take half a day before help comes. Think of it: If a buggy can go at full speed then a normal SUV can only go at walking speed - if at all.
Taking team members as co-passengers on high speed tests is also a huge motivation for all. Apart from that our mechanics get to experience what a car has to withstand out there in the desert. No-one complains if we come in for a service and the car is bashed up.
The pre-run for the SCORE Offroad races are truly and wonderfully adventurous. Each crew is completely on it's own when trouble hits. There are no limits as far as the regulations are concerned. There's a real pioneering spirit and the teams meet up in the evenings in the desert hotels where we talk cars, swap tips and where the camaraderie between rivals is cultivated.
Out there in the desert the main objective of the pre-run is to find the quickest and best line between GPS points, which are given to us by the organisers. Our pace-notes are relatively simple. We note only really monster bumps, very deep holes, deep water passages, tricky forks or directions for the points where five or six desert tracks meet. Detailed pace notes like in the WRC are only compiled for the very twisty or dusty sections.
The navigator directs the driver via the GPS. He has a monitor in front of him about as big as a larger laptop. There he can see our route and our current position. Over the intercom I hear things like: "Leftleftleftleft! Rightright! Yeah, gogogo! Get him!"
Apart from seeking out the fastest route, compiling the pace notes, team building and looking after the extremely friendly atmosphere of our race series, the pre-run is also about making the best tyre decisions. How much should we cut our rubber for each passage? Where should we change the tyres? For rocky ground we cut a little, for sandy passages more. And by the way, we also enjoy the total freedom in making such decisions.
Great that there is still such motorsport left in the world.