Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Nurburgring Trip Part 1: Getting there and round!!!!

Nordschleife, Nurburgring, The Ring, The Green Hell…… it goes by many names and to drive on its fabled tarmac is a necessary draw by all petrolheads who hold this "racetrack" in the highest regards and respect. In reality it’s just a German toll road, which like many others has no speed limit, but this toll road just happens to follow the same route, albeit tweaked here and there over the years, as the original Formula 1 track. So you can take your car on the same tarmac as the legends such as Jackie Stewert, Graham Hill and Jim Clark drove in anger.




The pull to make the pilgrimage to visit grows each year you hold your driver’s licence, for me it became too hard to resist at 35 when while chatting at my friend’s wedding I was given permission by the otherhalf to make the trip with some likeminded mates. That was 12 months ago, and here I am now writing about my adventure across Europe. Now unlike my fellow travelling partners I would be taking something little older, my trusty 21 year old Mark 2 Volkswagen Scirocco, so preparation started early. Over the year it had a performance exhaust added, coilovers fitted, braked uprated and additional strut braces bolted on to make sure that my time on the "ring" would be the most exhilarating it could be. Oh as well as the required GB sticker and beam deflectors for the headlights.



Jump forward to the morning before the night ferry crossing, with nerves high and a boot full of tools and spares, I headed to pick my co-pilot and best mate Lee up. Before the drive over the Pennines from Manchester, to meet up with the two more cars that would make up our convoy. A R32 Golf, and a MK3 Golf VR6, all that were a little different from how they left the factory!!!!!
 

From there we headed over to Hull and the night ferry to Rotterdam. In all the preparations the only thing that truly worried me was not the driving on the other side of the road (although it did a little) or the breaking down but actually getting my very low car with large front overhang onto the ferry!!!!!! I had visions of having to get the trolley jack out, whip the front wheels and raise the suspension or even backing it on. Thankfully there were no issues, well not with mine the VR6 had to spend the night with the trucks, and the cross Europe trip could begin, and best it could begin with a beer or three.



The following morning we departed the ferry and after a brief photo opportunity began our 260mile trip to the Hotel Sonneck in Rothenbach only 5.7km from the track.
 
 
It was agreed that once we entered Germany and the Autobahns we would split up make our own way there mainly due to my car being the slowest but also the number of petrol stops the others would need to make!!! My 6 year old satnav made the journey an experience, let’s just put it this way we turned up over an hour later after seeing many picturesque German villages via the scenic route!!!!

 
 
Checked in our goal was almost at hand the short drive to the Ring. Ten minutes later we arrived at rally/paddock car park at the entrance to the notorious toll road.

 
I must admit I was expecting a little more as you can literally drive of the main road, turn right and 100 yards in your at the toll, swipe and go!!!!! When we arrived the car park was empty due to the fact if was mid Friday afternoon and the track wasn’t open to the public until 5pm. So after a pit stop in the cafe which down stairs has a wall of tags from visitors, we headed over to one of the main viewing areas for the track at Brunnchun as there were cars on the track and I wanted to see what.


The graffiti on the road tells you everything you need to know about this place.
 
Turns out it was a fleet of Nissan GTR's out testing, nice.

An hour later we headed back to the toll parked up and bought our toll cards and got a map, well the leaflet!!!!! Even the cards call this place the Green Hell and the map describes it as "the world’s most beautiful country road without oncoming traffic".

 
Then it happened the one thing you just don’t want when you about to for your first lap, not only of the "ring" but also my first time on a track, that’s right it started to rain. Thankfully after an hour it stopped and started to dry so nervously we all decided to go for a "slow" lap. We headed for the cars, strapped ourselves in and turned the key, my swipe card in hand my co-pilot and me drove up to the barrier, swiped my card, the lights went green and barrier slowly went up. We were about to enter Petrolhead heaven and I was nervous, really nervous. Watching the crash video playing on the screens in the cafe off one of the more notorious corner probably wasn’t the best thing to do before heading out.
 

A short drive then it was a tight coned chicane that lead you onto the main straight, then that was it 14miles of blind crests, tight corners and steep climbs. Well that’s what it should have been however in the back of my mind was a conversation I’d overheard at one of the rental desks at the paddock area while walking round "it’s been raining, don’t go anywhere near the kerbs, ANYWHERE NEAR THE KERBS". On the run up to the new Formula 1 track you have to do a hard left, I tackled this fine, I wasn’t expecting the even tighter second left and my front wheel crossed the kerb by about an inch and before I knew it we were sliding, then the rear did the same. My friend who was following described it as one minute I was going straight the next she could see the side of the car!!!!!! Not what you want 2 miles in to a 14mile lap. Thankfully the car pulled back into line, but my arse had had a serious twitch. From that point the lap was taken with a lot more caution, to such an extent I had forgotten to indicate to the right when other cars were coming past and some of those cars got very close.
The lap continued with me trying to see what I was driving towards some corners are that blind, then it happen, a steep section lead to the Karussell. The legendary corner of the whole lap, what else can you do but throw the car to the seriously inclined inside and put your foot down before being thrown out of the other end.

 
Twenty or so minutes after we started we hit the main straight that takes you back to the paddock car park, and we were done. I parked up looked at my mate, we had just driven the Nurburgring and i was shaking from the adrenalin and nerves but we the car was still in one piece and thankfully after our little wiggle, so were we. Not only that we were smiling and laughing.


You would not believe how steep sections were or how blind some corners are, you can only really appreciate the risks racing driver took racing round this forest when you seeing it from a driver seat. Then there’s the lack of run off areas, until recently the chain link fence wasn’t installed. But back in the 70's even the corrugated fence wasn’t there, you came of the track and the think that would stop you would be a pine tree!!!!!!








The rest of the evening until the session finished was spent taking in the cars in the car park and track, as well as heading back to Brunnchen to see them heading round.



scotchford's 1st Day album on
Photobucket


 
The one really put a smile on my face, bought for £300 driven to the ring and taken out for a laugh, just what it’s all about.


A Bitburger (local beer) was definitely in order that evening with the meal as well as an assessment from everyone on the first day and first lap. After all with 260miles driven on the wrong side of the road (a first for me) and a lap done the first day was definitely eventful.
 
Next time, a day at the "ring", including a closedrace club day on track, the awesome Nurburgring centre and Pistonklause

3 comments:

  1. To be honest I couldnt tell you how long we were out for, could have been 5 mins, but I doubt it lol

    ReplyDelete