12 June 2021 06:32
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For Sascha Bellof, the past few days have been just like he’d imagined his job as a driver: he has been on the road a lot. The bread and butter business of the Landgraf Group, which he drives his Actros for, includes a scheduled route between Buxtehude in north Germany and the company headquarters here in Rhine-Hessen. First on to the A61 motorway, then on to the A1 going north until shortly before Hamburg; load up and return. “That’s how I work from Monday to Friday. At the weekend I’m then generally here in Giessen,” says 45-year-old Sascha, who has been doing this job for the Landgraf Group since 2017.
But at the moment Sascha’s working routine has more or less been turned upside down. “But I like the variety. I chose it,” says the father of two, nodding in the direction of a bright yellow trailer.
The Landgraf Group is competing in the ADAC GT Masters racing series with its motor racing team for the first time. Sascha’s boss is Tom Herzmann, who occasionally drives a truck himself. “The trucks are absolutely vital here,” he says.
Sascha’s job includes transporting the racing car safely to the race circuits in the racing trailer. “When we get there I’m a sort of firefighter. Wherever something’s needed, I’m right there to help,” he says, while looking attentively back and forth between the two MirrorCam displays. He slowly reverses the white Actros 1851 to couple the semitrailer.
Since it was decided that the team would take part in the racing series this year, preparations have been in full swing. For tests they went to the race track in Oschersleben and then to Zandvoort. The team had eight weeks to prepare for the series and they worked around the clock. The effort appears to have paid off: in the opening race they had their first win.
“Recently things have been really busy. It’s a huge amount of work getting everything up and running for a season like this. And above all you need good nerves,” says Sascha, who is now ready to load the racing car, a Mercedes‑AMG GT3 Evo, into the racing trailer. The V8 has 405 kW and 650 Newton metres, and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in about three seconds. To insiders the car is known as the “Mamba” because of its paintwork – which accounts for the lettering “Mamba inside” on the trailer.
“Isn’t it cool being able to push a car like that out of the trailer at the drivers’ paddock?”
– Sascha Bellof, driver for the Landgraf Group
As soon as we enter the company headquarters of the Landgraf Group it’s obvious what Sascha means by needing good nerves: the mood is tense. Hectic phone calls, an obviously stressed chief mechanic, an introverted data engineer and a team manager going back and forth between the workshop in the corner of the building and his office, looking neither right nor left. The GT3 still has no side parts and no wheels – the mechanic is just fitting the exhaust.
Sascha refrains from asking when things will be ready and he disappears once more towards the planning area to talk about the scheduled trips for the coming weeks. He does not have much time as the motor sports division of the Landgraf Group will need him and another driver very often in the near future. Racing in the 2021 season will be held on seven circuits. For Sascha that is a welcome change.
“I’ve driven a go-kart myself,” says Sascha, who shares his surname and his home town with racing driver Stefan Bellof who was killed in a racing accident in 1985. “But we were only very distant relatives. Personally I’ve always been interested in motor racing.”
Before he started with the Landgraf Group, Sascha had already driven a truck for motor sports events. He is at home on the racing circuit. “I’ve got to know so many people and all the different circuits. And besides, isn’t it cool being able to push a car like that out of the trailer at the drivers’ paddock?”
The team has worked to catch up, and now the car is in the trailer. The Mamba, the star of the show, weighs about 1,300 kilogrammes and costs several hundred thousand euros. Sascha is now taking it to Hockenheim in the Actros. There are test drives planned, just like next week too.
He doesn’t need a satnav for this trip. The Hockenheimring and the Nürburgring belong to the team's home circuits. When he arrives at the boxes, he is greeted by a deep V8 sound. There is another team next to them testing a GT3. Sascha says hello to them. “That’s a very familiar sound,” he says, grinning, and gets down to work. There is a lot of work to be done before the next race.
Photos: Alex Kraus
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau