Video - Chasing the Baja 1000 with All German Motorsports, Part 1

Dec. 06, 2012 By Josh Burns, Video by Adam Wood
All German Motorsports started 31st off the line, so the team had its work cut out for it to get into contention. Some solild driving off the start by Armin Schwarz had them in the hunt. Photo: Art Eugenio, GETSOMEphoto

Just a few weeks ago for the 45th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, we had the unique opportunity to follow the race with the chase crew of the All German Motorsports team.  The AGM team features two racecars, including the BMW-inspired #15 Trophy Truck driven by Martin Christensen and Armin Schwarz, as well as the #105 Class 1 vehicle manned by Tony Miglini, Armin Kremer and Andi Mancin.

The official race mileage was 1,121.55 and the course spanned the Baja Peninsula from north (the start at Ensenada) to south (the finish at La Paz). The team would be spread out all over the course to support both vehicles for the race. The #15 Trophy Truck was the 34th off the line, meaning this relatively new vehicle had to work through the pack to get into contention. The truck first saw action at last yearís 1000, and it has been tweaked and readjusted after the SCORE Laughlin race, San Felipe 250 and Baja 500. With its unique design blending Class 1 handling characteristics and Trophy Truck speed and ability, it took the team some time to get everything dialed in, but the team felt the truck was as good as it has been heading into the 1000.

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Schwarz started the race in the Trophy Truck, and his strategy was to be aggressive due to their late starting position while also playing it smart.

ďI think the strategy into the race is that we have to get the first 80 or 100 miles behind us, because those are always the most difficult ones,Ē he said. ďYou have a lot of dust, and we are running quite far back because we didnít have a good draw on the starting position, so it means we have a lot of overtaking or you stay where you are. I definitely donít want to stay where I am, so I have to play it smart to overtake where itís possible.Ē

At our a stop at Lazaro Cardenas, much of the AGM pit team plans and coordinates their next stop before heading their separate ways for the day.

The plan for the Trophy Truck team was for Scwartz to tackle the first half of the race and make the driver change with Christensen at the pit stop in San Ignacio at race mile 615.

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For the #105 Class 1 team, a three-driver team was assembled for the 1000. This racecar is the same vehicle the AGM team has had great success with in Baja over the years and they hoped for another solid finish. The driver of record for the race was Tony Miglini, who raced in the car all year and is partnered with a racer who has driven with AGM a number of times in Armin Kremer, while the other teammate was Baja rookie Andi Mancin. Kremer was taking the car off the line and handing it over to Mancin after a few hundred miles, while Miglini would hop in at San Ignacio and race to the finish.

Although the race was about to start some 500 miles to the north in Ensenada, the rest of the AGM team prepared at San Ignacio for the final pit stops, coordinating the amount of fuel each team has, which spare parts they have, etc.

Although All German Motorsports only fielded two race vehicles for the 1000, logistically, a large group traveled to Baja to help support and coordinate the teamís effort. Including the few members of the media that traveled with the team, there were nearly 50 people in the AGM group. This required 16 vehicles in total to transport everyone, eight of which are team chase vehicles that would provide fuel, tools, spare parts, tires, and anything else the team might need. It truly takes a small army to coordinate this type of race effort, and much of the support comes from volunteers who donate their time to the team.

Driver of record for the #105 Class 1 car Tony Miglini helps the team prepare fuel cans for a pit stop.

The racers came down to pre-run the week before the race, but much of the support crew left just a few days prior to the start. The racecars were still in the shop undergoing final preparations Tuesday, November 13th, and some of the crew made their way down to Ensenada that day and evening. From there it was on past San Quintin to Lazaro Cardenas. The group transporting the racecars unfortunately didnít cross the border until nearly midnight on Tuesday/Wednesday morning, which meant they didnít arrive until nearly 5 a.m. For many, this sleepless schedule is commonplace until the race is completed.

Trophy Truck driver Martin Christensen helps load and unload fuel cans.

After a stop in Lazaro Cardenas for the night most of the crew traveled south to Guerrero Negro and then on to San Ignacio. The chase crews split up throughout the day to stop at different locations, delivering fuel and supplies to the different pit stops in preparation for the race start.

Once the flag dropped at the start line in Ensenada, Schwarz (along with co-driver and AGM Crew Chief Bryan Lyttle) began picking off racers and moving up spots. An early flat tire derailed the teamís effort to move up the leaderboard initially, but after a quick fix they were back on track. The main driverís change would occur at the San Ignacio pit (race mile 615), where Schwartz and Lyttle would hop out and Christensen and co-driver Tyler Irwin would get in and drive to the finish.

Mike Froelich (center) helps coordinate the chase vehicles to make sure every chase team has what it needs. Froelich, like most of the chase and pit crews, is a volunteer who helps on his spare time. Without people like him, AGM (and all race teams) would never be able to coordinate this race effort.

Although Schwarz had move the Trophy Truck up to the 11th vehicle physically on the road after starting 31st, just after midnight the night of race day a call came into the pits that there was a problem with the truck at about race mile 580. The issue occurred only 35 miles from the driverís change.

On the other hand, the Class 1 car was doing well and physically leading the class at one point in the first few hundred miles. Kremer had started the race and Mancin was bringing it into the next driverís change in the top 10 in class, and both drivers had the assistance of Sam Osman navigating along the way. Miglini would then hop in and drive it to the finish with his co-driver Travis DuTemple. It appeared that everything was going well for both vehicles heading into the driverís change at San Ignacio. Unfortunately for the AGM Trophy Truck team, Baja decided to throw a curveball.

Be sure to check back for the second part of Off-Road.comís Baja 1000 recap of chasing with All German Motorsports.

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