Feature: The magic of the Nürburgring

18-08-2018 16:47
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
Feature: The magic of the Nürburgring

The Nordschleife has a legendary reputation in the world od racing, but it’s not until you’re there (and do a lap) that you can fully appreciate what the 16-mile track is all about.

Much like Spa Francorchamps, the Nürburgring is located in the middle of a beautiful landscape. You spend half an hour heading towards the track, meandering through the beautiful region of Eifel in Germany, before you hear roaring engines from a distance. Suddenly, it’s there.

The circuit is in use almost 365 days a year. Most days, the circuit is open for the public to bring their own car and tear it up on the Nordschleife. On other days, car manufacturers rent the track to test new models, and many races like the DTM (and formerly the Formula 1) visit the track as well.

Today, the VLN took place, a six-hour endurance race which features 173 cars (!). The grid, which took about fifteen minutes to walk from front to back, featured everything from a Mercedes-AMG GT3 to an old-school Opel Manta. Some familiar faces were racing, including Sebastian Vettel’s younger brother Fabian, and the legendary Stefan Bellof (who held the Nürburgring track record for almost 40 years before Porsche broke it earlier this year) his son was also there.

The day before the race, during free practice, I was invited to sit in the passenger seat of the Toyota GT86 of the Pitlane team (seen in the picture above) and go along for a few laps.

The track is absolutely impossible to drive. The bumps, the constant traffic, the height difference: it always throws something your way. The famous Caroussel-corner, a hairpin left-hander which is tilted like in NASCAR, has a surface of concrete slabs underneath it. Your body doesn’t appreciate the bumping and G-forces that are going on at the same time, let me tell you.

Other parts of the track, including a downhill part where the car almost has all four wheels in the air and is immediately followed up by a tough uphill double right-hander, make you understand why so many accidents happen here. It also makes you understand how crazy F1-drivers must have been to drive here in the past.

The Nürburgring is a track like no other, both in terms of the track itself, as well as the culture surrounding it. It’s a place where race fans can gather, walk through the paddock on raceday, and geek out with the mechanics about the technical parts of the cars that are paraded there. It’s racing at its finest, at its craziest, and therefore, at its absolute best.

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