Yörn Pugmeister enriched motorsport reporting with his stories. The adventurer, who died a few days ago at the age of 81, often took part in automotive events himself.
During his beloved Dakar Rally, Yörn Pugmeister passed away after an accident at home. The longtime motorsport reporter was 81 years old. Our professional paths crossed when “Pugi” was commissioned by Motor Presse Stuttgart in February 1977 to provide development assistance to Powerslide AG. And “Pugi” energetically got to work.
The Swiss team was very skeptical about the German development worker. On the other hand, as an Austrian, I was really happy about the support from Stuttgart, because “Pugi” knew the world and the world, provided good ideas for attractive stories and wrote the best stories myself, whether from Formula 1, DTM, sports cars or rally scene. And because of our modest budgets, it was important – he provided us with all the texts free of charge!
From the DTM opener at Zolder in 1977, Pugmeister brought a new columnist with him in the person of Marc Surer, who at the time formed the new, legendary BMW Junior team with Manfred Winkelhock and Eddie Cheever. All three later made it into Formula 1.
But the spectator role was not enough for “Pugi”, he himself took part in automotive events again and again. After all, he started six times in the notorious Paris-Dakar Rally. In 2020 he recalled in the SPEEDWEEK.com conversation on his 80th birthday: “The second time I drove with my wife Katharina, that was in 1983 and 1984, with a Toyota HJ60, and we broke down immediately.”
«It was unbelievable… Before that I met my colleague Herbert Völker in Algiers, who prophesied to me: ‘You won’t get far anyway.’ In 1985 I drove a truck and in 1986 I won the truck classification with Hans Heyer. Hans was behind the wheel, I was only allowed to drive to fill up,” he reported.
At that time, the German Volker Capito was one of the strongest truck drivers in the Dakar. Pugmeister revealed: “I agreed with him in 1985 that we would just pull each other out of the mud and let everyone else sit. Above all, we wanted to wipe out one thing for the opponent from Holland. »
The Berlin-born journalist said: “When we won in 1986, we had an unfortunate mechanic with us, his name was Winkler. He was the poorest pig with us. We fed him nothing but peanuts from an emergency American military ration because he was always sick. He didn’t even understand where we actually drove. It was always just through the desert. Winkler stated: ‘I only see sand everywhere. That sucks.’ In the evening he then had to repad the brakes or change the tyres. Heyer and I took a bath in the meantime.”
Participating in the Dakar was not Pugmeister’s only adventure. After 1983 he took part in the Camel Trophy 18 times. «When the East opened up a bit, we had a Camel Trophy in the Urals. Then I drove for Porsche in a works car from Moscow to Ulan Bator in Mongolia. I drove for Volkswagen from Ulan Bator to Kathmandu in Nepal, across the Himalayas. I made a wonderful trip with Mercedes from Paris to Beijing,” he listed.
Later, Pugmeister fulfilled an old dream. He bought a small sailing yacht and sailed around the world all by himself for two years. His wife Katharina visited him from time to time. After his return from the oceans of this world, he wrote again for “auto motor und sport” and “Motorsport aktuell”. “However, at the age of 60 I no longer wanted to have a responsible position, but to be more of a freelance artist,” he emphasized.
Recently, he found writing difficult, a neurodegeneration robbed him of the spatial feeling, as he said. That’s why he fell on a staircase in the house in Stuttgart, which cost him his life a few days later. «I could only dictate with Siri and in the end I couldn’t even hold the phone myself. I could no longer cook either, and I couldn’t repair anything myself,” Yörn explained to me during our last phone call on December 23, 2021. He had already lost a lot of his will to live. “But I can still think clearly and remember everything,” said the jack of all trades.
«Pugi», you left us too soon. There was still so much to tell. But the memories we shared live on. We experienced the best years of motorsport and the newspaper business. That comforts us. In recent years you have repeatedly said: “Günther, we are a dying generation of journalists.” I always replied: “Yes, the old guard is dying, but they don’t surrender.”
Dear Yörn, rest in peace!
We at SPEEDWEEK.com will try to continue journalism in your spirit, very old-fashioned, even if the time has become faster. That was always our understanding. Promised! News should be messages that can be followed.