Wayne Moore all set for race start number 20!

Wayne Moore

Like Mal Rose, New Zealander Wayne Moore has been a great supporter of AUSringers over the years. And, also like Mal, he’s ready for a milestone race at the Ring in 2013. Can you believe it will be Wayne’s 20th consecutive Nürburgring 24 hour race. What an effort!

And it’s a feat that hasn’t escaped the notice of the official race website, which said: “His record book features two class wins, nine podiums and an amazing 17 finishes with the most different racing cars, such as Seat León Supercopa, VW Golf, VW Bora, VW Polo, Suzuki Swift, BMW M3.

“This year, Moore contests the race together with his compatriots Maurice O’Reilly and Michael Eden as well as Denmark’s Niels Borum. He once again will race a BMW M3 E36, entered by the Danish Scangrip Racing Team for the V5 category.”

Before departing New Zealand Wayne sent in the following words for us to share:

The Endless Race

New Zealand endurance race car driver Wayne Moore will experience a memorable weekend when he races his 20th consecutive Nürburgring 24 Hour Race with the 41st annual staging of the iconic German event on 17–20 May.

Nürburgring is the infamous race circuit that Jackie Stewart labelled the ‘Green Hell’ and it almost claimed Niki Lauda’s life in a fiery crash in 1976 before F1 cancelled its annual booking and deemed the race track too dangerous. Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson believes the mountainous Nordschleife part of The Ring claims one death a week when open for tourist laps as a public toll road after bike, car, tyre and fuel companies have driven thousands of torturing kilometres testing their products during the day.

Moore has raced on the gruelling Eifel Mountains circuit every year since 1994 and that feat has attracted international interest even before the race starts this year. One German reporter claiming aside of German nationals no race driver in the world has driven more N24 races. That’s quite an achievement when you consider the 24 hour spectacle which is the culmination of days of supporting races accepts entries from 200 cars and attracts up to 800 drivers from 30 nations around the world.

The event also attracts an enormous crowd of dedicated fans who numbered 250,000 in 2011 and not many less during torrid winter-like conditions last year. Most fans camp on the forested hills beside the track and create an amazing spectacle.

Moore’s initial invitation to race in Europe was from German Florian Schmidt after the two met in Wellington some years earlier. Schmidt returned home for a successful career rallying in Europe and a future event on the tarmac roads of Isle of Man led him to enter the N24 to develop his tarmac skills. Moore still has the letter which he says left a hole in the ceiling when he read it.

Year one was a far cry from the professionalism of Moore’s current teams. The engine of Schmidt’s Suzuki Swift almost drowned in deluging rain before the race was stopped for trees and advertising hoardings to be cleared from the race track. The little car had heavy steel wheels, no radio communication and there was more rain washing around the driver’s feet than fuel in the tank as Moore coasted to a stop in early morning darkness in the mountains and still in deluging rain.

That was a fascinating experience as a marshal arrived with a can of petrol and a funnel and passed it through the fence. When Moore finally returned to the pits and the team garage, the crew had abandoned their wet pit for the distant shelter of a caravan and were nowhere to be seen. All pretty character building for a first year entrant.

For the next 17 years Moore joined a Volkswagen-supported team from Wolfsburg in a wide range of VW race cars ranging from a 1.4 litre Polo to very rapid Golf and Bora turbo-diesels. English was hardly a spoken language in the early days and an overseas driver in a German-team was a novelty.

This year Moore is joined by fellow Kiwis Maurice O’Reilly and Michael Eden who are driving with Dane Niels Borum in his 3 litre BMW M3 production car number 190 in class V5. The car has been prepared and is crewed by a German team with a meticulous attention to detail. No driver can drive for more than three hours without a two hour rest and many cars including the BMW need to stop more regularly for fuel. The same team raced last year to a strong class finish despite incidents during the race which now attracts significant interest from the world’s supercar manufacturers.

Moore says not too many years ago favourites for an outright race win could have been counted on one hand and included the Zakspeed Dodge Viper, one of two BMWs, or one of two Porsches. Now the event features a top 40 shootout of Audi, Mercedes, McLaren, BMW, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin, Lexus and other exotic supercars and a further 40 plus not quite quick enough for pole position are almost equal contenders for a race win after twenty four hours.

What keeps one man returning year after year from the other side of the world? “I’m a trophy hunter. We’ve won our class twice, once in a 2 litre touring car and once in a diesel Golf. There’s ample room for a third winner’s trophy in the cabinet at home” says Moore. “I’ve often had the privilege to train first-time Kiwi and Aussie drivers on the daunting Nordschleife race track and that’s always humbling as they’re always in awe.” The race track through the mountains is a very demanding 20.9km and when added to the modern Nürburgring Formula 1 circuit creates a total distance of 25.3km each lap during the N24. “You can’t hope to learn that in one year even with countless laps on computer simulations and it’s a very infectious place.”

Moore also talks enthusiastically of the atmosphere at night with fires, flares, fireworks, disco lights, hot air balloons, rock music and even the smell of fan’s barbeques wafting through the forest and even wafting through the racing cars. “It’s an added challenge driving past the smell of a good steak!” says Moore. Add fog and rain to the smoke, and crashes and other incidents on the race track and the challenge of completing consistent laps, lap after lap is also infectious.

It hasn’t always been good times with VW and O’Reilly and Moore both lost their drives one year as their car was destroyed in a crash early in the race. The driver suffered only damaged pride. Another year the race start was ultimately delayed two hours with more deluging rain and the race driver’s proverbial ‘red mist’ affected one Alfa Romeo driver who rammed Moore’s Volkswagen into a gravel trap only two minutes after the race finally started. It says a lot about the attraction of endurance racing says Moore that you must never give up. “It’s not even in our vocabulary and I can be a great motivator of a tired, wet and dirty team”.

That year we were dead last after a 1 ½ hour repair and still came home with a class trophy and a great race finish.

This year a group of fans, family and friends are travelling to the Eifel Mountains to join the celebration. And Moore is sure they’ll have a great time, regardless of where the BMW finishes in a field packed with supercars and super teams.