NEWSLETTER ARMIN SCHWARZ 2008-04-14 AGM Powerdays in Germany - and fond memories of our first win in the Mexico desert ... Let me tell you about the AGM Powerdays last Monday and Tuesday in Germany: showing the German fans and media what a ...
NEWSLETTER ARMIN SCHWARZ 2008-04-14
AGM Powerdays in Germany - and fond memories of our first win in the Mexico desert ...
Let me tell you about the AGM Powerdays last Monday and Tuesday in Germany: showing the German fans and media what a fantastic monster a Class 1 Unlimited Buggy is. And read the second part of my San Felipe 250 diary. You know what I'm talking about: the first victory ...
Well, on Monday I had the pleasure to have some of Germany's most famous motoring journalists in my co driver's seat and take them to the limit on an off-road track in Eastern Germany. They all are well seasoned, experienced professionals - and they all were very, VERY speechless and impressed.
And on Tuesday it was big fun (and a little bit scary) to sit in the co driver's seat myself, when the winners of our Virtual Car Club Competition drove the Buggy themselves. I must admit, motor sport pros like me are never good co drivers. But I must also say that some of our winners put in some quite impressive performances.
Through Monday and Tuesday with all that press conference and driving happening I was very happy to have Martin Christensen as our te am boss and driver colleague with us. It made it even more festive to welcome German rally ace, Armin Kremer, as our new team mate, who will pilote an AGM Buggy from the upcoming Baja 500 on for the rest of the SCORE Off-Road season.
I can only say: Thanks Martin, thanks to the media and thanks to our fans - and welcome Armin Kremer, it's going to be geat!
Back here in two weeks,
SECOND PART SAN FELIPE 250
Journal San Felipe 250 - the Countdown to the first victory
Cowboy breakfast and big freedom
Thursday 13 March
07:30 Get up, shower, drive to the camp. Great! Now the entire team is here!
08:20 Breakfast at Pete's place, typically Mexican with tacos, coffee, scrambled eggs - just like cowboys!
09:30 Briefing for the day, TV guru Norman has some very good ideas.
10:00 Photo shooting and interviews on the beach, Martin brings the race car and almost sinks in the soft sand.
10:20 More photos and interviews. We are all ready now for Steve who said he'd arrive with his chopper from San Diego at eleven.
11:30 I try to bring the Buggy up from the beach, and I almost bury the rear axle - now we need a tow.
12:00 Finally! Away from the beach. Steve arrives with the chopper, we refuel the heli with our avgas.
13:00 Bryan and I tackle the first 25 miles in the race car at speed. Yeah! That's the great freedom for us motorsports people! Here you can just go! Camera man Clemens follows us in the heli and from above shoots us speeding through the desert. Incredible what the car can take!
13:50 Armin Kremer has arrived and met up with us. Now he climbs aboard our Buggy and gets his first taste in our monster. He is totally blown away and speechless. He can't believe the power of this beast and what it can withstand. But Armin reckons he's going to have to work on his fitness before racing. Bryan and I drive from race mile 30 to 75 again, we try many different lines, the pace notes are changed radically and now fit better.
16:30 We stop just before entering the dry lake bed and drink something. Armin is gob-smacked, and asks if it continues like this. Yep, it does. He doesn't reply.
19:00 Back at camp. We are starving. Now we talk about the technical scrutineering tomorrow.
21:20 Pete's Camp has wireless internet connection. I take a look at my emails and answer a flood of them concerning the upcoming AGM Power Days in Germany.
21:45 We drive to the house, shower, drink a cold beer and fall into bed.
Friday 14 March
Technical scrutineering: He who loves his Buggy, also has to like pushing it
08:00 Today is technical scrutineering! Big Day! Off to camp, everyone is up and ready to go.
08:15 Breakfast in the motorhome, super weather, it's warm already. A lot is happening at the beach: Quads, motocross machines and Beach-buggies are everywhere, going wherever they like.
09:00 Martin und I drive to San Felipe to the technical scrutineering, the team follows in the support trucks.
09:45 We line up, there are about 50 vehicles ahead of us. Everyone's chatting, drinking coffee and find it great to be here. We push the Buggy forward bit by bit, we all close ranks so that no one squeezes in between, the paperwork is completed in five minutes.
12:45 Tec Inspection: Overalls, helmet, brake lights and chassis documents, finished, then the GPS signals and we're all done. Norman shoots lots of interviews, and you see something that you don't see in Europe: great atmosphere, great fun and everyone can be there.
13:30 Back at camp we grab something to eat. The team loads up the service trucks: Fuel, tyres, tools. Very important: cold drinks and food in huge coolers.
15:00 I walk along the beach and relax for two hours, collect shells for my children Tiziana and Fabio, and think this would be a great place to live. It's always like this when I get a chance to wind down. I think, if only my family was here, that would be perfect.
17:00 I drive to the house and pack my things for tomorrow. Tomorrow on race day I have no space in my head for that. And straight after the finish we have to head to LA.
19:00 I drive back to camp, today Misty has made pasta and salad by the pool, and the whole team eat together, great mood and everyone is happy.
20:30 Team meeting: Our co-drivers Chris and Bryan go over every race mile and every scenario with each of the crew: Who belongs where and when? Questions and more questions. Everyone has to know what he must do. Radio is the most important topic: Keep it short, strictly only what's necessary. Bruce on the hill with his antenna coordinates the show. The big teams do it with a heli or plane. We don't have the budget for this, so the antenna is fine. It has to be.
21:30 Everyone wishes us luck, I have to say goodbye to some of our team as we have to leave for LA straight after the race.
22:30 Sleep, I wake up a couple of times. This is normal and hasn't changed in all these years. That is my nerves. A sandstorm blows outside.
Saturday 15 March
Race Day: We coax a 640 hp machine through the desert - to secure our first victory!
07:30 I go through everything I have to take with me in my mind. It's routine.
08:00 I drive to camp. Coffee, breakfast, lots to drink, it's going to be hot.
09:00 Bryan and I drive the Buggy to the start... fast. Everyone does. Our starting time is 10:08. If the mayor comes later, then we'll start later.
09:45 Preparation: intercom connected, balaclava for the dust. Climb in car and buckle up. Supply air and intercom on. Ruff - and I'm ready to roar.
09:50 Ready to go. We have to move forward, we are directed to our starting place. Whoever is not there has to line up at the back That's how it is here.
10:00 The first Class 1 Buggies take off, We are 104. It's our turn soon.
10:10 We're racing! And immediately onto the desert washboards. After just ten miles we have to slow down: The torque limiter warning light is red! After 15 miles we let someone who started behind us overtake. We treat the car with care where we can. It's nerve-wracking! Shit, when we can't go fast. Keep cool. There's a long way to go yet. And Martin's segment is better, it suits the car more. The first 50 miles are torturous. Incredibly restrained, but the route doesn't let us do more. And we want to finish, so slowly, slowly! After ca. 55 miles the track becomes sandier, and the hard, huge waves lessen. Foot down! But the suspension feels too soft. I think: What the hell! But I want to hand the Buggy over to Martin and Chris without problems, and if possible in a decent position. Then, after Race Mile 65 I suddenly see 15 cars have stopped over just a couple of miles: They slaughtered their vehicles because they were simply too fast!
ca. 12:20 The change-over point is smack in the middle of deep sand. It's easy to get stuck here. Bryan and I unbuckle a mile before the pit stop, of the roof to get out. Air and intercom disconnected, the swap has to go quickly and smoothly. Our team tells us over the radio that there's chaos at the pits stop with zero viz. We make a precision landing, avoid the dust so that the boys can refuel quickly. We've hardly stopped and Bryan and I are out. Martin and Chris leap over the engine into the car, we buckle the two up, air supply and intercom on, and they're off, it's taken only 30 - 40 seconds. Awesome! The crew cheer: We're lying third in the Class 1 Buggies and seventh overall, we're moving forward! We've hardly removed our helmets when we hear something over the radio that makes us freeze: "Martin here, since when is the suspension been so damned softei?" We answer: "Since Mile 75". "Okay," says Martin, "Then I can't do anything about it." But he's still in the race, every two miles his navigator gives the coordinates. We drive the short distance to San Felipe, a crossing point in the track. From here it's only 35 miles to the finish. Martin comes as first in the Class 1 and fourth on the track. We do the maths and know that we are now in the lead, 1:45 minutes ahead of the next. We make our way to the camp. Bruce on the Hill keeps us informed: Martin has to take it very, very easy, too slow for his taste, but we'll see ...
ca. 16:18 At last the finish: Martin is in front, the second 12 seconds behind! We won... narrowly... but we won!! On the radio we hear a voice screaming, everyone's yelling. We've worked so long for this, we were so close so often. We did it!
18:10 Back in Pete's Camp we're ecstatic, everyone has a Corona and we're partying. I sit down with Martin and we share a couple of thoughts: What do we have to do until the Baja 500?
19:00 I take a quick shower, we throw my luggage in the car and it's off to our team-headquarters in Escondido. Our team celebrates a well-deserved party!
19:10 Off to Los Angeles, from where I fly home the next day.
21:00 We stop in Mexicali just before the border and refuel. It's freezing and I say 'There's snow in the air.' Norman and the other laugh and say: "Our mountain man smells snow."
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