Armin Schwarz newsletter 2007-10-25

All German Motorsports: Unser Team Greg Grassman: Keeping his cool at pit stops Greg has been with AGM for four years now. During this time he has notched up an incredible amount of experience and routine - and this is why there is not much that...

All German Motorsports: Unser Team
Greg Grassman: Keeping his cool at pit stops

Greg has been with AGM for four years now. During this time he has notched up an incredible amount of experience and routine - and this is why there is not much that can unsettle Greg as a member of the pit crew. Refuelling, tyre changes, repairs: everything at high speed without a trace of hectic. Greg is one of the mechanics who stays cool headed in every situation. It's a good feeling to have guys like Greg waiting for us at the pit stops.

Even in his leisure time, Greg can't get enough of the dust: He likes to roar through the dunes with a Sand Car ...

Pre Running for the Baja 1000: The race before the race

Preparations for the 40th Baja 1000 run at full revs at our team head-quarters in Escondido, California. Whilst the Jimco Buggy receives its finishing touches our pre-running moves closer. And this will be really tough. As you know, this year we drive from Ensenada right down south where we finish after 1296 miles in Cabo San Lucas. This variation is normally driven only every second year. We did it in 2006 and again this year because we are celebrating the 40th Baja!

I will be driving the first stint of the race on 13th November, with the last part in darkness. Martin Christensen takes over from me and drives completely in the dark. When everything goes well, Mattias Kahle climbs aboard the Buggy on the late morning of the 14th and does the final stint.

As the start and finish this year are about 1300 miles apart, our pre-running requires a lot of logistical effort. Martin planned to start his pre-running today, 25 October. But this proved to be impossible because of the huge fire catastrophe in Southern California. It's actually so bad that most of our team members had to leave their homes. Martin took his family out of their house and into a motorhome in order to keep them safe. I want to say from here that my thoughts are with you all, and that I hope that you and your families get through this very hard time unhurt and without too much damage to your homes and belongings.

Once Martin's pre running gets underway he will drive his entire section on one day to check the quickest way to the specified GPS points on the route map. For the twisty passages he'll write pace notes similar to that of WRC rallies. On the swift stages he'll drive flat-out from one GPS point to the next. The following day Martin and his crew drive back to the start, where they should arrive in the afternoon. Martin then waits for night to fall before heading out to drive the first half of his stint again in pitch blackness. During the day he catches some sleep before going out to do the second half the following night. I reckon our pre-running Buggy will clock up a good 1000 miles on this occasion.

The team now has the task of loading the Buggy and bringing it to Escondido for a check up.

My work begins on 4th November at 4am in the Escondido workshop. I'll take over the Buggy and head off for my pre-run. At around 7am we want to be in Ensenada where we will immediately start our pre-run. I'll also drive my entire first stint, overnight at the end of the first leg, and then the next day take the h ighway back with the team and the Buggy. When we reach Ensenada again, off we go again in the afternoon, starting with the first half of my stint on the same day and the second half the next day, part of which will be in the dark. My pre-run finishes on the 7th November. I'll drive back to Ensenada with my navigator. Our Buggy will probably have notched up another 1200 miles.

For our crew the marathon is not over by a long shot. They then load the Buggy and sprint down to the start of our last stage. Matthias arrives on the 8th November, where he carries out a similar pre-run plan to me from 9 to 12 November.

During the pre-run we can't afford any delays. The Buggy has to work without problems. If we get stuck in the desert it can easily take ten hours before our mechanics reach the stranded. If the Buggy needs to be towed out then this could take 15 hours - this would make things damn tight...

But we are optimistic. While Matthias is busy putting yet another 800 miles on the odometer, for us the countdown is on in Ensenada with the Demonstration Run and the Parade through the city to the Technical Inspection. On 13 November I take off. Martin will be waiting for me at the hand-over point and Matthias makes the most of his wait down on the lower part of the peninsula on the 13th and the morning of the 14th to gather strength before his stint.

But honestly, it's high time now that things got going!


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