Video - Chasing the Baja 1000 with AGM, Part 2

Dec. 14, 2012 By Josh Burns, Video by Adam Wood
Amidst the excitement and chaos of the race, Martin Christensen stays calm and keeps the All German Motorsports team focused at all times.

As we noted in Part 1 of our adventure chasing the Baja 1000 with All German Motorsports, the Class 1 racecar had pulled into the driver’s change pit stop at race mile 615 in San Ignacio. The #105 car moved ahead of the Trophy Truck on the racecourse after the truck had a mechanical failure at about race mile 580.

Although the team expected the truck to arrive in San Ignacio first, obviously the attention shifted to the Class 1 car. Armin Kremer had started the race in Ensenada in the #105 racecar and had moved into the physical lead in class at one point. Baja rookie Andi Mancin took over at race mile 255 for Kremer and drove to San Ignacio, where Tony Miglini would take over and complete the more than 500 miles that remained.

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The #105 arrived at roughly 1:15 a.m to the San Ignacio pit Friday morning (roughly over 13 hours after starting) and left about 5 minutes later at 1:20. The vehicle was roughly in tenth place in class. Once Miglini and co-driver Travis DuTemple were inside the car, the Class 1 team set out to reach the finish line in La Paz.

The AGM crew swaps tires, fills fuel tank and makes adjustments to the Class#105 car at the driver change in San Ignacio.

After the Class 1 vehicle left the pit, the AGM crew shifted its focus to the Trophy Truck team.  After tackling 580 miles of racecourse, where Armin Schwarz and co-driver Bryan Lyttle had overcome a bad starting position and an early flat tire to move up within the top 10 Trophy Trucks at one point, a mechanical problem struck and the truck began losing oil pressure – fast! Schwarz and Lyttle got out to inspect the problem and found out the seal broke on the torque converter and it was dumping oil. Since this meant the transmission needed to be removed to inspect and possibly replace it, the truck would be down for quite a while.

Tony Miglini climbs into the car to tackle the remaining 500-plus miles of racecourse with co-driver Travis DuTemple.

Even before the #105 car arrived at the San Ignacio pit, a chase truck traveled north to meet the Trophy Truck with parts, supplies, and the ability to tow it off the racecourse to perform the needed repairs. What the team found out was a bearing went bad in the torque converter, causing it to churn up debris that eventually took out the seal that resulted in the truck losing oil pressure.

“It got so hot you could see on the data logging that the exit temperature was 580 degrees, which melted the exit hose coming out of the converter,” Christensen explained. 

The failure took the team out of contention and put them down a number of hours. Unfortunately, the mechanical issues weren’t completely done. The aforementioned exit hose Christensen described as melting was not a part the team saw was damaged after reinstalling the new torque converter and starting again. The issue wasn’t noticed until they started the vehicle up again. Although the crew didn’t need to pull the entire transmission again, they did have to fill and bleed the system twice to replace the melted hose, which just added to more downtime for the AGM Trophy Truck. 

The Trophy Truck overcame a mechanical failure that put it down for hours while getting repair. Fortunately the team was able to get it up and running and get back on the road. Destination: La Paz. Photo: GETSOMEphoto

Still, that wasn’t the end of trouble for Schwartz. After all of the repairs, the truck also got stuck in a silt bed around race mile 605 before reaching the pit at San Ignacio. The Baja 1000 is a course full of pitfalls and lurking disasters, and unfortunately the team ran into a few halfway through the marathon off-road race.

Silver Lining
Although the team was clearly out of contention by the time Christensen hopped in the car and left San Ignacio at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning (about the time they expected to be reaching the finish), the race was not in any way a total loss. Being such a new vehicle, the team still took many great things away from what was essentially a giant test when all was said and done.

“The nice thing about it is that the car was basically put through everything,” Christensen said. “After the start when Armin got bumped back to the second to the last Class 1 car, he was able to pass all of the Class 1 cars and many of the Trophy Trucks. He was in seventh physically on the road at Vizcaino [roughly race mile 545] so we had the speed.”

Fortunately for Christensen, who had told us after the race he basically “was in a brand-new truck” by the time he left due to all the parts that had been fixed, it was relatively clean sailing for he and co-driver Tyler Irwin en route to La Paz.

“When I got in I had no issues with the transmission, the axles, suspension, etc.,” he said. “The only time we stopped was because a Protruck got stuck in front of us and we spent about 30 minutes trying to get it off the track and get around it.

“I never touched the [seat] belts from when I got in at the driver change to the finish. We took our time, you know, because we were running late in our class, and these were some of the class leaders in their class, so we didn’t want to ruin their day because they were still racing.”

Christensen said they probably passed between 30 to 40 vehicles during his leg of the course, even passing three at one time during a very fast section.

After 1121.55 miles, give or take, the #105 AGM car crossed the finish line. Drivers Tony Miglini (left) and Andi Mancin pause for a congratulatory photo with none other than SCORE CEO and President Sal Fish.

#105 Reaches La Paz
Hours ahead of the Trophy Truck was the #105 AGM Class 1 car driven by Miglini. After about 13 hours being in the car, he and co-driver DuTemple crossed the finish line in La Paz sixth in class. The only real problem the team faced was brake issues that plagued them until they fixed it.

“It was about four hours in I got super tired,” Miglini said of his section of the race. “Then we had brake issues and we stopped and capped off one of our right rear calipers and we decided to run with just the front and one rear. “

Eventually the team found its rhythm and really tackled the course with confidence.

“We were on fire for a couple of hours and it was really killer, and then we had brake issues two times, and then we had to pull over and make some repairs … from then on it was fun,” Miglini said. “Then when the sun came up it was game on, it was super super fun.”

In spite of the toll the Baja 1000 course took on the Trophy Truck team, #15 crossed the finish line in La Paz to complete the 1100-mile journey – the truck’s biggest test to date.

The Trophy Truck Finishes!
There are only a few vehicles that go home as class winners at the Baja 1000 each year. Of the 298 vehicles that started the race only 174 finished it – and a 58.38 percent finish rate is high for a peninsula run. Like the many teams facing their own unique adversity during the race, the All German Motorsports team didn’t quit when things got tough and the #15 Trophy Truck crossed the finish line in La Paz on Friday evening. Sure, it was more challenging than expected and the team had higher hopes, but they can go home with the best R&D attainable on the new truck.

“It was basically a big test – we were able to talk about it like we were not really racing,” Christensen said of his section with co-driver Irwin. “It gave us the mileage of the truck at race speed, and out on the coast the whole coast section was so whooped out that we got to run the truck in really deep whoops … we got to see the temperature on the front and rear shocks and gauge when it started getting hot.”

Christensen said that they even gauged the shock oil temperature at different speed increments of 40, 60 and 80 mph on the beach section. At that point, they were in information-gathering mode and getting real-world testing that’s nearly impossible to duplicate. Traveling to areas to test is one thing, but real-world racing scenarios such as rutted-out whoops and passing situations is not easily replicated.

Most of the All German Motorsports team (not all, as some didn’t make it to La Paz yet) pause to take a picture at the finish line with the #15 Trophy Truck. Big or small, every team that races Baja has a group of volunteers helping them make it happen, and AGM is no exception.

The team was grateful everyone made it to the finish line safely, and Christensen and the rest of the team gave thanks for the volunteers that helped support and assist the AGM team during and leading up to the 1000.

“I just have to absolutely have to thank the guys on the team at All German Motorsports,” he said. “They are volunteers that come down here and spend their own time out of free will, it’s just phenomenal.”

More SCORE Baja 1000 Coverage
Chasing the Baja 1000 with AGM, Part 1

BJ Baldwin Announced Winner Following Protest

Video: Baja 1000 Prep with All German Motorsports

2012 SCORE Baja 1000 Photo Highlights Newsletter
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