An Australian view on the Nürburgring Nordschleife

May 10 – ‘Nürburgring Day’

May 10th, 2009 Posted in Trip reports

Nurburgring Nordschleife

If you’re reading this website you know that the Nürburgring Nordschleife is a seductive orgy of twisting tarmac that casts a spell over those who experience its pleasures for themselves. As evidenced by the fact that I run this website from the other side of the planet. You’ll also probably know that AUSringers has a Your Story section that allows readers to share their experiences. There has been some great tales shared, so please do not hesitate to add your own story if you have ever been to the Ring.

With that said, it’s a bit remiss of me to have not shared my own experience. Sadly, and amazingly, my Nürburgring story turns three years old today. Just like your first lap of the Ring, time goes very quickly. So, to celebrate the day I now call ‘Nürburgring Day’ you can read my story after the jump…

May 10, 2006

The opportunity to travel to Europe came courtesy of some friends getting married in Venice and it took me about three nano seconds to start planning a visit to Germany to pop my Nürburgring cherry.

So, car sorted, accommodation sorted and on the evening of May 9 when my wife and I arrived at our hotel in Döttingen the anticipation really started to build. Seeing a Porsche Carrera GT in the car park near our B&B only heightened my enthusiasm!

Nurburgring Nordschleife
Nurburgring Nordschleife

In preparation for my visit I had read so much about the Ring and could almost quote Ben Lovejoy’s website word for word. I sat in front of my computer for what seemed like months and months watching countless hours of YouTube clips. The three main things I took from all this research were, 1) watch my mirrors for faster traffic; 2) indicate right and move over to allow quicker cars to overtake; and 3) don’t go in too fast at Adenauer Forst!

Bright and early on a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning we arrived at the TF gates ready to go. After previously checking out the webcam I noticed that the early morning seemed to be a relatively quiet time at the track and we got there about 30 minutes after opening. I purchased a 4 lap ticket for EUR56 (2006 pricing).

Nurburgring Nordschleife
The view from our room at Pension Diana, Döttingen

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

I had arranged with some mates back in Australia to keep an eye out for me on the webcam, so after buying my ticket I lingered in view of the camera for a while. This had as much to do with mentally preparing myself for what was to follow.

Nurburgring Nordschleife
Nurburgring Nordschleife
Nurburgring Nordschleife
Nurburgring Nordschleife

A lot of the material I had read researching the Nordschleife kept commenting on how dangerous and tricky the course can be, so I don’t mind admitting I was a little nervous. I had watched lots of video and ‘driven’ the track a few times on PlayStation. To be perfectly honest, I reckon watching the videos was best for me, I can’t say PS2 really helped me that much, and in any case one or two laps driven for real taught me so much more than the countless hours of video/PS2 ever did. I’d be more concerned with learning the protocols of driving the track and the local safety issues than getting too caught up in any of the simulator stuff.

So, the time was here. I placed my ticket into the machine at the boom gate with the nervousness of a guy asking a girl for a first date. I knew this could be one of the most memorable moments of my life, but I just wasn’t sure if it was all about to go horribly pear shaped.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

The moment came. The moment passed. And it is a moment that has indeed become one of the most memorable I have experienced to date. Best of all, it didn’t go horribly pear shaped and I can boldly claim that I am not a seven second Ring hero!

The thing that surprised me most about my first lap was how quickly it went. The Nordschleife is over 20km and honestly, it felt only a tiny bit longer in time than I remember my first lap of Eastern Creek taking. In reality my first Ring lap took around 13-14 minutes, and my first lap of Eastern Creek would have been under 2 minutes 30 seconds. Such is the information overload lapping the Green Hell, that your brain just can’t process it all quickly enough.

As noted I wanted to go out when the track was quiet and fortunately my theory paid off. I think we only got passed by one group of cars/bikes on the first lap. Although that didn’t stop me from paying almost as much attention to my mirrors as I was to looking ahead to the next corner. It wasn’t really until my third or fourth lap that I was getting comfortable with the quicker traffic speeding up from behind. My theory was, on a straight piece of track indicate right and move to the right of course to let them past, but in a corner, if possible, hold your line and so long as you get out of the way as soon as you can most people appear patient. Mind when there’s a few corners in a row it makes it harder knowing when to hold your line and when to try and move over.

One funny moment occurred on my second lap. Being a Volkswagen fan I was pretty happy to see what was then a pretty new Mk5 Golf R32. I was even happier, then, when I caught and passed the car just after Hatzenbach. However, I was firmly put back in my place when not one, but two Toyota Yaris weapons passed me a few corners later, haha. Try as I might I could not hold back the awesome power of the Toyota 1.3 litre powered ‘hot hatch’. Of course, this just highlighted to me that, no matter what car you are in, there will always be someone faster than you and the Ring is not a place for an over ambitious ego.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

There are quite a lot of blind corners and rises that make it hard to know when to keep your foot flat and when to back off. Even though it is rightly stated that you need 100 or more laps before you really know the track, I found after a few laps in a row that my mind started to remember things pretty well. There’s no way I could learn the best lines in that time, but I certainly removed a lot of the self doubt I had the first couple of laps. Because the Nordschleife is a one way track a racing line of sorts is reasonably well worn. This helped me a bit leading into the blind corners.

The Ring is well known for its changes in elevation, but nothing there compares to steepness of the climb and descent experienced when driving over the top of Mt Panorama for the first time, especially from Skyline to down Forest Elbow. This is not to say Bathurst is better, not by any means, but it shows, in a small way, that the mountain section of the Mt Panorama briefly holds its own with what is acknowledged as one of the best racetracks the world has to offer.

Oh man, the Karussel! That is as bumpy as guts and I’d hate to think what it must have felt like for my poor wife in the passenger’s seat. It’s pretty awful really, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

After the first lap I returned to the car park and clowned around in front of the webcam for a bit more, then went back out and did two laps in a row. On the second lap we came across an accident between an older 911 and one of the track prepped rental Alfa 75s. It didn’t look too bad at all, well there was plenty of bent metal, but nothing to indicate any serious injury to either driver. However the course closed for about one hour and in total seven choppers came and went from the scene. That was pretty sobering, even though it was later revealed nobody was injured, seriously or otherwise. Still, hearing the choppers buzzing overhead for sometime really did bring home for real the dangers of the track.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Throughout the day there were a handful of accidents that closed the track. I can’t say for all of them, but most were two cars coming together during overtaking moves, as opposed to someone running out of talent all by themselves. And it was this fear of the faster cars from behind that was the only downside of the experience. To get continual laps of Nordschleife with no other traffic would be motoring nirvana, unable to be equalled by any other driving experience I reckon.

After the course reopened from the first crash it was about 10:30am and consequently there were a lot more cars ready to go out. Not surprisingly then, the three lanes (2 for cars one for bikes) leading on to the track were soon busier than Sydney peak hour. I felt discretion was certainly the better part of valour and decided not to go out again. Instead we went for a bit of a drive around to find some good vantage points to watch the cars driving on the track. Indeed, some of the roads around the circuit are great drives in their own right, the descent into the village of Adenau being the best we came across. The spectator area accessible from close to the Breidscheid Bridge also offers good viewing access to the track.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Oh, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the Nordshliefe has to be the best car spotting venue on earth. Easily the most common car were Porsche 911s and all varieties from 70s models best described as track beaters to a brand new 997 GT3 were there. Even a Carrera GT (different to the one at our hotel). Plenty of Ferraris too, well I think there were three F430s and a few 360s to go with. Enough RS Audi models to keep me happy, and of course plenty of old and new BMW models with lots of M badges circulating regularly. But there were some genuinely rare cars there, too, including a Plymouth Prowler and a new Ford GT40. Also giving the Nordschleife a good work out was a Volkswagen Tiguan test mule.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Apart from the aural pleasures of the newer cars (the Aston, Carrera GT and the F430s were the best sounding), it’s actually the DRTs (Dedicated Ring Toys) that are best viewing entertainment. Typically, the DRTs are older 3 series Beemers, Mk2 Golfs or older 911s. These guys have generally stripped out their cars, added roll cages and know the track very, very well. The best highlights were watching these guys get close to, or even very momentarily, airborne over the last bump leading into the right hander at the end of the Pflantzgarten section. Simply awesome. And a few great saves as well! Cars don’t tend to brake that well when wheels aren’t touching the ground.

Nurburgring Nordschleife
Nurburgring Nordschleife

We spent the best part of six hours either driving around neighbouring villages or watching by the side of the track. And when there was no action because the track was being cleared of damaged cars things did drag on a bit. It certainly gave me time to think that I was a bit of a plank for travelling half way around the globe to drive around a racetrack. However, at about 6pm when most of the exoticar Playboys were heading home—there was a Scuderia Hanseat course the next day and entrants were given free track access on the day we were there—I went out again and all my earlier doubts went out the window. With renewed confidence and a quiet track I was hooked.

It is just such a great circuit and so long as you take to the circuit with the right attitude it rewards you in so many ways, regardless of driving ability. Mind, you can’t help but think how much more fun one would have with greater track knowledge. Of course, travelling from Australia the ability to take my own car was impossible and I will remain intensely jealous of those who are able to drive their own car around the Nordschleife.

Still six laps, or more pertinently, over 120 kilometres of track time on the Nordschleife in an unfamiliar car is one I would not trade for anything. I really cannot wait to go back. It may take five, even 10 years, but I want to relive this experience as many times as possible.

And that is really the best way to describe driving the Nordschleife. You just can’t wait for your next lap.

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nurburgring Nordschleife

  1. 24 Responses to “May 10 – ‘Nürburgring Day’”

  2. By Terence on May 11, 2009

    Good read. Went out for 4 laps this evening in the Abarth 500, It is so addictive. I am up to 27 laps this year already. Closing in on 200.

  3. By Liam on May 11, 2009

    That’s just showing off Terence!

  4. By Michael on May 11, 2009

    Let’s legislate this day as a public holiday?

    Nice write up. What a beautiful outlook from your accommodation.

  5. By Chris on May 11, 2009

    Great write-up Liam,

    Not that it really matters, but what were you driving?

  6. By Liam on May 11, 2009

    A black SLK200. 😉

    Enough power (just) to get around, but not enough to get into trouble. And a lot less to pay for if it got bent than a 911, haha.

  7. By Wayne Moore on May 11, 2009

    Happy Anniversary Liam!

    That’s a cool story and exciting reliving the memory with you. I’m enroute for a few more laps and another 24 Hour Race and will post some comments later in the week.

    Meanwhile, thanks for sharing.
    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  8. By Liam on May 11, 2009

    You’re another one making me jealous Wayne … but I’m still happy for you!

    Glad you enjoyed the read.

  9. By Terence on May 12, 2009

    Wayne are you involved with a team? I am going to be spectating at the event. Staying right in Nurburg. Should be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to it.

  10. By Wayne Moore on May 12, 2009

    We’d better whisper Terence… otherwise Liam will turn green.

    I drive for Oettinger RSR in a Golf V which I’m hoping will be a pretty special piece of kit this year as we experienced some unsettling handling last year.

    Here’s an earlier story Liam put together:
    http://www.ausringers.com/2009/01/06/wayne-moore-shares-his-story.html

    We are car number 136 in box 31. Would love to catch-up and I’m happy to provide any help/advice you need. When do you arrive at Nurburg?

    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  11. By Terence on May 13, 2009

    Wayne going up on thursday and there till Sunday night after the race. Will have a large Aussie flag with me. Staying with a group from the Northloop Forum at the Burgstube. (Just looked at the start list and see you are down as a Kiwi, flag probably will not motivate you much then!!)

    I will try and track you down when up there but will cheer you on. Do you know what stints you will be driving?

    Cheers and Good Speed!
    Terence

  12. By Wayne Moore on May 13, 2009

    Hi Terence!
    I have a leg on each side of the ditch and will keep my eyes open and acknowledge your flag.

    We only plan driving stints after training so I’m not sure of the schedule and being diesel we have sufficient fuel for the whole 2 1/2 hours (13 laps). If you get 3 race drives… you’re doing okay.

    The comraderie between Aussies & Kiwis driving at this event (and still good numbers this year) is pretty special and we look out for each other.

    Hope you have a ball up there.
    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  13. By Tommy on May 19, 2009

    Looks like I am going to get a chance to drive the ring this year….

  14. By Liam on May 19, 2009

    That’s the way Tom. You have made a wise choice! 8)

  15. By Brett Sellers on May 14, 2010

    Hi Wayne.

    I was at the ring on 11/5/09, a day after the track day.

    I’m wondering if you’ve got any idea of how to contact the driver of car 1107, a Black BMW, German plates, “WAS 550” that also took part in the track day.

    Was there an entry list for the day? From memory, the driver said he came 3rd in class on the day.

    I managed to get 2 laps in that car the next day. Great fun.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Brett

  16. By Liam on May 10, 2011

    Happy Nürburgring Day everyone! 😛

  17. By Wayne Moore on May 11, 2011

    Happy Nürburgring Day Liam and Happy Anniversary. Sorry I’m a day late… that damn time difference!

    Great reading your story again.

    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  18. By Liam on May 11, 2011

    No worries Wayne. Was hoping to make a return trip later this year, but some home renovations/extensions might soak up any spare funds!

  19. By Wayne Moore on May 12, 2011

    Hi Liam!

    How about targetting my 20th Anniversary @ the 24H in 2013. The laps and the Weisen will be flowing (in that order).

    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  20. By Greg Spark on May 19, 2011

    That looks like a great goal Wayne!

    Looking forward to catching up with you at the 24 Hour again this year. I am driving with KTN (www.ktn.co.nz) again and really looking forward to it, in a very different way to last year when my lap count was 0 on arrival.

    I remember well your kindness and help, which was very much appreciated. And the great generosity you showed by taking me on a spin and giving me your advice.

    Now with last year’s event under my belt and 65 laps (27 race ones!) I’m tingling with anticipation and far less anxiety than last year!

    This year, as you probably know, the ADAC are giving no dispensation to drivers who don’t meet the experience criteria for entry.

    I’d really value your view on this.
    The rules state that you need to have competed in the 24 Hour within the last 5 years OR a minimum of 3x300km endurance races at the Nordschleife. The latter can be reduced to 2 by attending the New Driver’s Course.

    KTN has previously had a dispensation from this rule thus allowing Kiwi’s to enter who would otherwise find it impossible to do so.

    To my knowledge this has not created a problem in terms of driver inexperience at the track during the event.

    Unfortunately the loss of this dispensation effectively will make it almost impossible for Kiwis and Aussies alike to gain entry to the 24 hour race again, leaving just those with the 24 Hour race in the last 5 years being eligible. This will be a steadily decreasing pool of drivers.

    KTN is keen to gain support from AusRingers readers to make an approach to ADAC asking them to review that decision.
    I will try and crosspost this into another thread on this site.

    Cheers
    Greg – audidude.wordpress.com

    (and an awesome site Liam – well done!!)

  21. By Wayne Moore on May 19, 2011

    Hi There Greg!

    Thanks for your kind comments and I look forward to seeing you and the rest of the awesome KTN team at The Ring again. Year 2 starts becoming really enjoyable and the circuit is less intimidating than when it’s new. Still heaps to learn… and unbelievably satisfying as ear to ear grins prevail over wondering what’s next, “oh, oh” (without breathing), or worse still “oh sh_t!”

    Re the new driver prerequisite rule… I can understand the organiser’s dilemma with the growing number of 300km+/hr rocketships in the 24H the last thing they need is drivers who don’t competently know their way around the Nordschleife. It’s interesting… and especially in the wet and/or at night… it’s sometimes those ‘pilots’ who aren’t competent and not uncommon to pass a Porsche or Aston Martin plodding around on strange lines.

    I suspect though that the ADAC haven’t thought of the implications for drivers who travel 24 hours to race 24 hours… and just couldn’t do the same for 2 or 3 VLN races. I’d support and add my name to any petition or discussion.

    I believe the same safety reasoning applied when the small engine cars where banned from the 24H grid. The huge disparity in outright speed sometimes created danger but also created spectacle and many fans are there for the spectacle… oh, and the beer.

    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  22. By Liam on May 10, 2012

    Happy Nürburgring Day everyone!

  23. By Liam on Feb 19, 2015

    I’m going back!

    I’ll be at the Ring on 19–20 April, just two months to go.

  24. By Wayne Moore on Feb 23, 2015

    Yeah Liam! That is great news.

    I’m also managing to get back this year and confirmed my N24 drive in a BMW 335 bi-turbo last week. Finally… more power! I’ll put a story together when pics are through with our sponsors folio on-board.

    Any chance of you ducking back to The Ring on 6 May??? I have a Rent4Ring Suzuki booked that day… Just asking!

    Wonderful news all round Liam.
    Speed Safely!
    Wayne

  25. By Liam on Feb 23, 2015

    G’day Wayne, that’s great news for you.

    Alas. I’ll be back in Australia and back at work on 6 May. 🙁

Post a Comment