Nürburgring – A World-Class Racing Complex In Germany
Many of you might have heard about the Nürburgring for the first time in 2004 when the famed British television series Top Gear featured it in one of its episodes. However, those who live near the Nürburg village in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany are familiar with the complex since 1927, when its fantastic racetrack was finally completed after 2 years of hard work. Presently, the Nürburgring is considered by many the Mecca of all racing complexes, and its track was described by Jeremy Clarkson himself as “the biggest, longest and most fearsome in the world”.
In its early days, the track’s configuration comprised the Gesamtstrecke (Whole Course), which included the Nordschleife (North Loop) and Südschleife (South Loop), while Zielschleife (Finish Loop) was an independent warm-up circuit. Today, the Nordschleife is definitely the most popular, as it is still being used for numerous racing and testing events. Pitched high amidst the picturesque Eifel Mountains, the Nürburgring quickly became famous for its difficulty, which caused quite a few accidents, some of which were fatal. After 1929, important Grand Prix events would only be held at the Nordschleife, while the Südschleife would be used for less important races.
During the 1960s, the track was considered quite difficult and dangerous by numerous F1 drivers, which is why it received a special chicane in 1967 right before its start and finish areas. This chicane was meant to force drivers to reduce speed prior to entering the pit lanes, thus encouraging safety. Still, the track was quite difficult to tackle and was eventually called “The Green Hell” by a professional racing driver named Jackie Stewart. Since many other F1 drivers demanded some serious changes to be made on the track, and since these changes could not be implemented overnight, the German GP was relocated to Hockenheimring temporarily.
Between 1971 and 1983, the Nordschleife was redesigned and reconstructed, which meant that it was now smoother, it had les corners and it featured Armco safety barriers. The German Grand Prix was moved to the Nürburgring once again in 1971 and many other safety-related changes were implemented throughout the following years. However, the unfortunate accident of Niki Lauda in 1976 meant the end of Grand Prix racing on the Nürburgring for a long time.
Nordschleife went into a major reconstruction process, and by 1984, it was reopened once again under a new name and with a new configuration. Its new name was GP-Strecke, and it met the absolute highest safety standards at the time, but its radical changes also meant that it was now inferior to its previous form. The main “points of interest” of the Nordschleife are called Flugplatz (Flying Place), Fuchsrohre (Fox Hole), Bergwerk (Mine), Karussell (Carousel), Brünnchen (Small Fountain), Pflanzgarten (Planting Garden) and Schwalbenschwanz (Little Carousel).
In recent years, in 2007 to be precise, FIA made a public statement that the Nürburgring and the Hockenheimring would take turns in hosting the German Grand Prix. In 2007, the event was indeed hosted by the Nürburgring, but it was actually named European Grand Prix.
In our current days, the track is frequently visited by amateurs who need to pay a fee before they are allowed to drive their cars on the track. Anything from modified new Volkswagens to stock old BMWs, Audis and even motorcycles can be seen roaring on this fabulous circuit on a daily basis. However, even though many drivers chooseto tackle this difficult track, this does not mean that they are necessarily experienced or qualified to do so, which is why the Nürburgringsadly claims several lives each year. Even though no official records of the death rate exist, Jeremy Clarkson stated that this place “has claimed over 200 lives” throughout the years, which is a grim prospect indeed. Since there is no speed limit, no oncoming traffic and no intersections, the 13-mile long Nordschleife track appeals to many automobile enthusiasts from around the world, but aside from this wonderful circuit, the Nürburgring boasts with many other attractions as well.
For example, the biggest rock festival in Germany, “Rock am Ring”, has been heldhere since 1985, but the complex also houses a very important sports event called Rad & Run am Ring, which involves running and cycling. In 2009, the complex received several commercial spaces such as a mall and a hotel, and there is even a roller coaster on the premises that was supposed to become operational in 2011. Other highlights involve driving simulators that allow visitors to familiarize themselves with the track and its many corners, but go-karts also seem to be quite popular.
Even though it went through some major monetary difficulties in 2012, the Nürburgring was “bailed out” by the Rheinland-Pfalz government, who agreed to pay the staggering sum of $312 million in order to keep the track operational. Hopefully, this incredible place will keep its doors open for many more years to come, as it not only hosts one of the world’s most incredible racetracks but also represents one of the most beautiful, challenging and historically-significant pieces of automotive history.