Armin Schwarz – Dramatic season-opener – fantastic speed, annoying DNF

Armin Schwarz

Laughlin Desert Challenge:

This 15th Laughlin Desert Challenge had it all for me: triumphant laps in the lead, the experience of the finest team spirit – and a frustrating retirement. But let me tell you one thing after the other.

On both Saturday and Sunday we had to tackle ten laps of around eight kilometres on the circuit in Nevada. Our plan was that I would drive on Saturday and Martin would take the wheel on Sunday.

With high hopes: ultra low level flight over the desert
Saturday started out fabulously. I took off as the fourth car and was leading after two laps. And this on one of the toughest tracks of my entire career. It was one big staccato of jumps, ditches, rolling and pitching – it was simply crazy. But I was in the lead. Until the left front upper wishbone snapped 2.5 kilometres from the finish line, and the wheel simply folded under the suspension. Okay, no reason to give up. I managed to bring our Buggy over the finish line and was even third! It was truly spectacular, and the fans simply loved the action!

600+hp trike
The suspension repairs and the overhaul of our car after this tough race meant a full night shift for our AGM team. Martin came to me and said: “Look, you were very quick today. I think you should drive tomorrow as well. I will look after the car tonight.” Well, what can I say? Martin is a true and excellent team player. So all I could do was to say “Thank you,” and try to get a good night’s sleep.

Nightshift in Nevada
Sunday, Martin’s briefing before the start: “The car is ok so far. But you’ve got one big handicap. The torque limiter was defect and playing up. So we had to lock it. You’ll get all the load cycles directly into your poor gearbox.” Came the start, and everything seemed to be brilliant. I was the third car to go and took the lead in the first lap. In lap two the transmission mainshaft broke and I came to a halt in a cloud of dust. The annoying thing is: The torque limiter threw us out of the race exactly here, exactly a year ago and exactly in the same way. Unfortunately we can’t check the quality of this component ourselves. We rely on the manufacturer.

AGM: a great bunch – and my “family” in the USA.
But hey, the season is still young, four rounds to go, lots of points at stake! On February 14 the draw for the start positions at the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 (13 to 15 March) will decide in which position we will take off in this race. Again we will be out there – with great memories of our win there last year – and we will give it our best shot, we will experience and enjoy the adventures of desert racing like only the SCORE can give.
Our next newsletter mid-February will be a really funny one. It tells you the story of an old hand from the World Rally Championship who thought he knew a shortcut in the desert. And it went wrong …
All the best,