|Baja 300 Powerdays: Interview with initiator Armin Schwarz - action assured.|
For fans of action-packed Offroad motorbikes and rallying there is a date this summer that is not to be missed: The "Baja 300 Powerdays" from 22 to 24 July 2011 at the "Offroad Camp Grunau" near Leipzig in Germany. The idea for this spectacular event came from Germany’s rally ace Armin Schwarz. For the last years, the ex-European champion has contested the SCORE Championship in the USA.
During this time, he worked on formulating a plan to bring the entire action from the deserts of America and Mexico to Germany. And the debut of the Baja 300 Powerdays in 2009 was a resounding success. Now get ready for the second edition - more excitement, more action and even more breathtaking than the first. In an interview, Schwarz talks about the 2011 Baja 300 Powerdays, the stars and the special atmosphere at Europe’s greatest offroad festival.
MR: The Baja 300 Powerdays was a huge success in 2009. This time it’ll be even more spectacular and different. What’s new this year?
Armin Schwarz: "Of course we’re sticking to our ‘Show and Action’ motto, but unlike in 2009, we’re now running real races in all categories. Because of this the event gains bigger importance for sportspeople than it would it is was ‘just’ a show. We’ll run these races in well-known motorsport categories. Some of these categories are not main-stream but we’ll bring them all together in a festival and this will result in a breathtaking show."
MR: What are these individual categories and classes? Which vehicles provide action at the Baja 300 Powerdays?
Schwarz: "It takes off with a classic rally event, the 1st Central German Rally. It kicks off with a show start and a city stage in Leipzig. On Friday they’ll do a double loop around Leipzig before finishing in the evening near the centre of the Powerdays event. Extremely diverse categories are permitted at the rally, whether World Rally Cars, GTs or the new R4 category. Of course, we want to establish the rally over the next years in order to gain international status. That’s why we’ve given the go-ahead with everything featured in top rallying. Particularly in the east there are wonderful special stages, many fans, top sportspeople and teams like Kahle, Mohe, Dobberkau, Corazza, Zeltner and Herbold.
From rallying we then go over to real offroad stuff, where the car category attracts seriously big names - from Dakar prototypes to T2 categories through to Trophy Trucks and Class 1 Buggys from the SCORE Championship. There are vehicles from the USA and from the Dakar. And they’re manned by prominent drivers. We’re talking to Monster about getting famous names from the X-raid team to come, for instance Dakar recordwinners Stéphane Peterhansel and Stephan Schott.
From the USA we’ve got BJ Baldwin and we’re also negotiating with Andy McMillan and Robby Gordon. Of course, for these US stars it’s a huge logistical task getting the vehicles here. But they’re trying their best to make it happen - because the German Powerdays is a huge and exciting topic for them and all of the SCORE series boys would rather come and compete.
The Freestyle categories are also extremely well represented. In the Bonebreaker Races of the Baboons there are two classes, each with its own race: One for the quads and ATVs which with 4WD can conquer just about any type of terrain, and another for two-wheelers, that is, the pure Enduro drivers. It’ll be an extremely tough course. And last but not least we have the spectacular freestyle show that we’re organising with Stefan Bengs. He’s not just a top freestyler but a real expert in this field. Stefan is organising the drivers, the circuit and the event for us. I think we’ll see two or three big-league freestylers joining us from the Monster camp, and they should turn some heads on the international stage."
MR: And they all find the perfect playground in the Offroad Camp Grunau...?
Schwarz: "That’s right. We’re creating a so-called ‘infield’ for spectators and drivers that all vehicles will have to drive through each lap. So spectators don’t have to walk miles but instead experience the spectacular passages and jumps directly from the infield. Here everything is within easy reach: the action with hugely varying degrees of difficulty on track, the event tent, a theme park with exhibitions and so on."
MR: A couple of prominent names have already been announced - have any other stars confirmed that fans can look forward to?
Schwarz: "We’ve received confirmation from an old friend and companion of mine, WRC champion Petter Solberg. His brother Henning Solberg is also coming. I’m currently working on other stars, including Ken Block. He’d give us a fabulous drift show. And naturally we want to get the German aces. With names like Petter Solberg and Ken Block plus great TV coverage from DMAX, we’re offering German sport a great platform. It can only be beneficial to every driver to pit themselves against other stars and shine in such a top-class field. We’ve got Skoda Auto Deutschland on board with two Fabia S2000. I’m also in talks with all of Germany’s biggest names right through to GT pilots."
MR: The special thing about the Baja 300 Powerdays is that spectators are not fenced in but are right in amongst the action, right up close to the stars and their vehicles...?
Schwarz: "Everyone who came in 2009 remembers how the vehicles were on display in the event tent and the drivers made time for talks, photos and autograph sessions. This year, the drivers that reach the finish line have to drive their cars through the tent after the race. The fans not only get the chance to see what these guys look like before they head off to race, but they also see how they look when they get out of the cars or off their bikes after three hours of hardcore action. With this, we want sport to come to the spectators - rather than sidestepping them."
MR: And there are celebrations in the evenings?
Schwarz: "Exactly. On Friday and Saturday night we have open-end parties following a theme. On Friday, it’s Mexican night which was hugely popular in 2009 - with Mexican music and Mexican food. On Saturday we’re putting on a real international Race Night. As part of this we’ll have the first prize-giving because the winners’ from the various competitions will have already been decided by Friday and Saturday evening."
MR: For such an event what personnel do you need?
Schwarz: "Luckily, we have many of my old mates coming on board. They’re all ready for the extensive preparations - which are massive. The hurdles for such a complex event are high. Luckily in the Burgenland region there is an excellent infrastructure with hotels, food, petrol stations and shops all within close proximity and they offer many things that such an event requires. Additionally, we enjoy great support from the local communities and the State for which I’m grateful. They approached us with many ideas and they all want to be part of it. We’re very much looking forward to this event."
Tickets for the Baja 300 Powerdays are already available on the internet site [ www.eventim.de ]. Those who purchase their tickets in advance will receive an official fan cap worth 15 Euro. Further information can be found on the official website [ www.baja300-powerdays.com ].
2011/04/28 | 16:19 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY