By Aaron Waldron
After the collapse of Team Durango’s racing efforts, German National and European Champion Jörn Neumann made big news when he not only switched to Serpent - but joined the brand’s office staff and brought his long-time mechanic, Gerd Strenge, along for the ride. Strenge used to hand-build his original 4WD buggies under the Team Durango banner for years, but first tried putting the design into production as a part of Serpent (as the S500). The project fell through when the world economy turned in 2008, and Strenge teamed up with a partner to start Team Durango - securing young German star Neumann as their star international driver.
Neumann and Strenge are making their first start with Serpent this weekend, joining the team’s largest effort yet at a U.S. nitro off-road event as they join former double champion Mike Truhe, returning racer Dylan Gerard, and more. As yesterday’s practice round ran long into the evening, I sat down in Serpent’s pit area and spoke with both Neumann and Strenge on making one of the biggest moves of the offseason.
Aaron Waldron: How did you get involved with Serpent?
Jörn Neumann: They asked me to join. They offered me a good opportunity with both racing and a normal job, along with the chance for Gerd to work there as well.
AW: Did you both decide to join at the same time?
Gerd Strenge: Yes - we made the decision together.
AW: You previously worked for Serpent before starting Team Durango - what was it like to go back?
GS: It was easy, because I know all of the people there. It’s still the same guys. For sure, it was an easier transition than joining a new company. And they’re based in Germany - they speak the same language and everything.
AW: Serpent is more focused on off-road racing than ever before. Is it exciting to be a part of something with so much growth potential?
JN: Of course. Everything worked out very well.
AW: What are your goals for 2015?
JN: In 1/10-scale, for sure to win the world championship - I think that must be the goal. In 1/8-scale, making the main at big races would be great.
GS: My goal is to get more people to run Serpent cars, to help our customers, and to make the cars easier to drive with no issues
It was at this point that former ROAR National Champion and IFMAR Worlds podium finisher Mike Truhe, who swept both Truck and Buggy at the Dirt Nitro Challenge in 2007, popped his head into the conversation and added his own answer:
MT: World domination.