Video: All German Motorsports Preps for the 45th SCORE Baja 1000
When it comes to off-road racing, the Baja Peninsula still provides the toughest off-road test of man and machine when it plays host to the SCORE Baja 1000. The rough and remote terrain of the area offers a unique challenge that brings racers back to chase glory again and again. It’s still the "Wild West" of the modern off-road era, and it requires guts, determination and careful planning to survive it.
For this year’s 45th SCORE Baja 1000, SCORE International will alternate the race to a peninsula run, meaning it will not begin and end in Ensenada. This year it will start in Ensenada and run down the Baja peninsula to La Paz, covering a grueling 1,121.55 miles in the process. The 1000 is always difficult, but a Peninsula race comes with an extra set of challenges. The strategy to complete the race – or even potentially win it – requires a full team effort of well-placed pit stops, a well-prepped machine, and a game plan of specifically how to tackle certain sections of the course.
For the All German Motorsports team, which entered last year’s Baja 1000 with an all-new Trophy Truck, the preparation for this year’s race has been a yearlong effort. Last year’s Baja 1000 was really the first chance the team had to put in some serious time on the new machine. Since then, the team has had a few races to test, adjust, and re-test changes to the new truck. AGM’s Martin Christensen said racecar is nearly where they want it to be and feels this race isn’t just another test – it’s one they are hoping to win.
“We’re 90 percent there now,” Christensen said. “We have a few things we are having issues with but that’s more on the engineering side. There are so many good things about it, but there are a few engineering things we need to finish to get it 100 percent.”
Team All German Motorsports
The core of the AGM Trophy Truck team is the Danish-born Christensen and German rally racer and WRC Champion Armin Schwarz. The team consists of more than just drivers, however, as it wouldn’t function without Bryan Lyttle, crew chief and Trophy Truck navigator, Katie Garcia, who handles the media and marketing side of the team, and the other co-driver for the Trophy Truck Tyler Irwin. Travis DuTemple also works as a mechanic for the team and is navigator for the Class 1 buggy, while Tony Miglini has driven the Class 1 racecar all season (and will get a few new teammates for the 1000).
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The start for the All German Motorsports team really began many years ago when Christensen moved from Denmark to the U.S. to start All German Auto with his brother Hans, who was already living in the U.S. at the time. When the brothers first started in 1991, the business focused on service and repair of German cars such a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Audi and VW. The company had a small one-bay, two-lift facility but has grown the business today to a large 20-bay location in Escondido, California.
When it comes to racing, Christensen has raced off-road both on two wheels and four from a young age. From 11 to 17, he competed in a high-level Danish dirt bike circuit and even raced in some lower-level rally car races in his late teens. When he moved to the U.S., he didn’t have the budget to race cars right away, so he started racing motorcycles in District 38 and other series at Plaster City, as well as the SCORE Baja 250, 500 and 1000 in the 250 class.
In the mid 1990s, Christensen partnered with Chuck Hovey in a Class 9 racecar, and the team raced together from about 1995-’98. They won the SCORE championship in 1998, and to help facilitate sponsorships and create an outlet to sell race-developed parts Christensen started All German Motorsports to handle the racing side of the business. It was around this time that he began building a BMW-powered Class 10 that he partially raced in ’99. He eventually won the Class 10 SCORE Championships in that Class 10 in both 2001 and 2002, and he came up just short in 2003 (by a point) but won the Baja 1000 that year.
Eventually, Chistensen moved up the ladder into the Class 1 ranks, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he and the rally racer Schwarz teamed up through a mutual sponsor.
“Armin stopped racing in WRC in ‘06, and so at that point I was sponsored in part by Eibach and so was he on the WRC side in Germany,” Christensen said. “So the owner knew Armin and me, and since he was done with racing in WRC, they were having dinner together and Wilfred [Eibach] said he knew this Danish guy racing off-road in the U.S. and he said you should race here with us.”
So for the first year in 2006, Schwarz (partnered with Matthias Kalle) raced the Baja 1000 in a car that AGM helped prep. It was in 2007 that he paired up with Christensen and NASCAR driver Boris Said for the peninsula run at that year’s 1000. Then in 2008, this was the first year that Schwarz and Christensen raced together, and they have now in every race up since then.
“It was a very easy transition for Armin to come into off-road being from a rally background in that he’s always driven on dirt,” Christensen said. “Having the longevity built into it and the logistic of Baja is new for Armin, but we’ve had some great success and hope to continue that.”
The partnership seems to work great for the team, with Christensen handling more of the logistics with AGM in San Diego while Schwarz deals more with the sponsorships and partnerships that he can do from his home in Germany.
A New Trophy Truck
After its success in Class 1, the AGM team went to work building a new Trophy Truck that would be designed as a blend of a buggy and a truck. Last year’s Baja 1000 was essentially a serious shakedown run where they could rack up test miles to see what did and didn’t work with the design.
Christensen described the new truck to us at that time by saying, “It’s built in a much lighter format coming from a Class 1 racing background, where we’ve had really great success with our BMW-powered car over the past few years,” he said. “So we’ve tried to, if you would, make a hybrid between a Class 1 and a Trophy Truck by making a very light truck that has good cornering ability and still is decent in the bumps.”
The truck features a front-engine design to shift the weight forward but has a live-axle design in the rear to provide the durability to tackle the bumpy sections Trophy Trucks are known to power through. Each race has given the team some insight into what works and what doesn’t, such as what Christensen called a “mediocre” result at the SCORE Laughlin race this year because of an axle issue. The San Felipe 250 and Baja 500 also provided the team with more opportunity to tweak with the truck’s setup.
Ultimately the team is ready to put the truck to the ultimate test at the SCORE Baja 1000 later this year. “We’re racing it to win,” Christensen said. “My expectations is to put the truck on the podium. That’s the only reason why I go down there.”
We look forward to watching AGM and all of the teams tackle this year's challenging Baja 1000 course. Be sure to check back with Off-Road.com for coverage of this year’s race as well as a closer look at the AGM Team’s efforts in the race, as we will be covering the team firsthand for the 45th SCORE Baja 1000.
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