Nurburgring; The Green Hell
One lap is 20.81km long with 154 turns scattered throughout; Nurburgring is among the most dangerous race tracks in the world and has been nicknamed 'The Green Hell'.
Built in 1927 around Nurburg village in the Eifel Mountains the track has 300 metres of elevation change from its lowest to its highest points, blind off-camber corners, crests and dips, different types of tarmac with varying levels of grip and the quick change of weather to go along with it all. The motorsport complex has a person capacity of 150,000 and hosts multiple events each year along with the Grand Prix track which was added in 1984. The track is so long that a number of neighbouring towns sit within the Nordschleife circuit.
During the weekdays the track is used by car manufacturers to test new prototypes, such as Tesla, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, and all other hours it's either used for official events or for the general public to test their driving abilities and risk their dignities and lives. According to Wikipedia there are multiple accidents and several deaths each year however track management does not release any official figures, Jeremy Clarkson stated in a Top Gear episode in 2004 that the track has claimed over 200 lives since its opening.
Professional drivers can reach over 300km p/h on the track and public days can see speeds of over 200km p/h. The fastest time around the Nordschleife track is 6:25.91 by Stefan Bellof, in a Porsche 956 in 1983, most people aim to complete the track in 10 minutes however timing yourself is forbidden on public days due to the distraction and danger it can cause.
The Nurburgring is technically a German toll road and therefore normal traffic laws apply, keep right and only overtake on the left, allow all faster vehicles to overtake and use your indicators when doing so to allow the driver behind you know that you have seen them.
During the public sessions any road legal vehicle is allowed on the track, so everything from motorbikes, to vans and super cars can be seen sharing the road. You don't have to be an experienced track driver to enter the ring either so levels of experience vary drastically each day.
A Day at Nurburgring
We stayed for two nights at the Motorsport Hotel, its a short drive away from the ring and an easy walk to Rent4Ring where we hired our track vehicle, a BMW125i.
We arrived at Rent4Ring where we were given balaclavas and helmets before being introduced to the German racetrack via a safety video. Passengers are free of charge but no loose items are allowed in the vehicle, each lap is tallied up via a swipe card you are given to open the barrier to let you onto the track and you pay for these once you return the vehicle. When on the track normal German Road rules apply so don't be a dick and sit in the middle of the track; allow all faster cars to overtake on the left and only ever overtake on the left, any orange lights or flags mean an accident has occurred ahead and you must slow down, but all of these are covered in the video.
We did two laps around Nordschleife and Paul drove both of them (obviously), he successfully meet speeds of 200km p/h and made the corners at around 130-140km p/h, while I was sitting in the passenger seat keeping a lookout for faster vehicles wanting to overtake. Porsches', McLarens, Corvettes, a Toyota Vitz, Vans, MX5's and VW Golf's were all on the track at the same time overtaking each other and some even causing accidents, most of these I managed to catch on camera which you can watch below.
Being a passenger on the ring isn't for someone who is prone to motion sickness; the constant change in speed and sharp or sudden corners makes for a bumpy and sometimes dizzying ride. I'm thankful we ended our day at the end of the second lap as my balaclava was at risk of being filled with bile. All in all it was an awesome afternoon and I'm so thankful I did it, Im not a huge car fanatic but I'm also not one to pass up an obvious special opportunity which I will probably never have the chance to experience again.
Accidents on Nurburgring
I thought this topic deserves its own section since the ring is not as simple as Hampton Downs racetrack back at home. The track is scattered with 154 corners and turns so being distracted for 1 second could cost you your car, dignity or life. Coming to the end of our first lap an MX5 was chugging along the right barrier with it's exhaust scraping and sparking on the ground, and on our second lap a Corvette and a Starlet had possibly collided with each other as they had both spun out into the sand and were waiting for assistance from track officials.
The ring taxi is a great way to experience the ring at high speeds without driving the car yourself. You are driven around the track by professional drivers who knows the track like the back of their hand and can usually do the track in around 8 minutes or faster.
Prices range from 269 Euros to 299 Euros depending on the vehicle you choose.
Public session times are available most days of the week except when events are on, times are restricted to the afternoon and vary every day so check the Official Website for Nordschleife opening hours.
During the public sessions anyone with a road legal vehicle can enter the track, which means motorcycles, low powered vehicles and supercars can be on the track all at the same time which is another reason why so many accidents and deaths can happen during public sessions.
Each lap costs 25euros if you bring your own vehicle, otherwise you can check out any track rental car agency in the area. We used Rent4Ring and hired the BMW 125i.
Normal German traffic rules apply so passing on the right is prohibited and can land you a lifetime ban, if you hire a vehicle make sure you pay attention to the safety video; you didn't pay that money to crash your car and spend the rest of your life paying off the excess.
Viewing the track is easy and free, there is usually something going on at the track whether its prototype testing or various other commercial uses so you'll usually spot a supercar or two on the track on any given day.
There are two popular viewing spots not far from each other:
Brunnchen ("Small Well") is the larger of the popular viewing points for spectators, the track can be viewed spectacularly from the sandy area at the end of the carpark, but if you walk through the bush to the left you can get a great view the corner which is famous on Youtube for the unexperienced drivers of the general public wiping out their cars or not abiding by track rules.
Pflanzgarten ("Planting Garden") is a smaller area for viewing but great for watching cars come down the slope at speed and navigating the corners. This is one of the most difficult sections and getting this right is crucial to getting a good lap time. This section is the scene of Peter Collins' fatal crash in 1958 during Grand Prix, and also where a number of career ending crashes in Formula One occurred in the 1970's.
To find either of these areas simply search the name in Google Maps followed by 'Nurburg'.
The entrance to the track holds a large diner and carpark where a lot of the ring risk takers wait for their turn or use the space to show off their cars, a good spot if you want to check out overloads of supercars or Europeans modifications.
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