26 April: New photos.
25 April: Update. Google Earth file, here.
13 April: Big day today.
Me and the kids and the boys went to the Nürburgring today to drive some laps on the Nordschleife.
The Nürburgring, known as simply “the Ring” by enthusiasts, is the name of a famous motorsport race track in Nürburg, Germany, built in the 1920s around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg in the Eifel, which is about 70 kilometres south of Cologne, 100 kilometres northwest of Mainz, and 120 kilometres northwest of Frankfurt. Originally, the track featured four track configurations: the 28.265 km (roughly 14.3 mi) long Gesamtstrecke (“Whole Course”), which in turn consisted of the 22.810 km Nordschleife (“Northern Loop”), and the 7.747 km Sudschleife (“Southern Loop”). There also was a 2.281 km warm-up loop called Zielschleife (“Finish Loop”) or better known as Betonschleife, around the pits area. Between 1982 and 1983 the start-finish area was demolished to create a new GP-Strecke, and this is currently used for all major and international racing events. However, the Nordschleife is still in use; nicknamed The Green Hell by Jackie Stewart, it is widely considered the toughest, most dangerous and most demanding purpose-built race track in the world.
Out of this world awesome. Fantastic.
The kids and I had to get up insanely early to pull this off. We met up with Nick (BMW) and Henry (2006 Mini Cooper S) at 0600, for the two hour drive north, which was uneventful. I had slept like crap, though. I think I sleep better on Xmas eve, waiting for Santa to bring the presents.
When we got there, Poppa Bear (Ken) and his younger boy were there waiting, and in a few minutes we were joined by Rob. Nick, Henry and I were virgins. Ken had been there once before. Rob has an annual pass, and runs a few hundred laps a year.
Yeah, he’s in a whole other category.
Lots of Brits were already there, and Wow, there were some AWESOME cars out on the track, to include a bevy of Porsche and other luxury / $ toys. Yeah, even a Lambo.
L to R: Rob, Nick, Henry, me, Ken
After making small talk, we hopped into our cars and headed out for a lap. I’d paid for 4 laps — 70 Euros. Not chump change at all. Rob slowed down and led us on that first lap, showing us a decent line to follow through the curves. It was early, and still mostly dry (that would change), and not many cars were out as the track had been cleared to haul out the first wreck of the day.
I should add this early on in all of this: the kids went with me out on the race track. They were in their car seats, and all buckled up, and they had an absolute ball. They loved it. They wanted to listen to Harry Potter on CD while we were doing it (they asked before we started) but stopped asking once they saw how intense the driving was. They were awesome co-pilots.
After that first lap, I left the kids with Ken while I went with Rob for a lap in his car. Somewhere, I have video of it. He’s a decent (!) driver on that track — he’s pretty much got it figured out. But, he did walk me through it as he went — where to brake, where to start the turns, when to push out of the turns, and to look for the white dots (key). It was a, um, spirited drive, on which we passed two cars off the track — one facing the wrong way.
I then did two laps with Ken and his son, them chasing us. It was starting to rain some, so we throttled back. Funniest thing was passing a mini van / sedan thingy, with the family out for a Sunday drive. On the Nordschleife. On one of these laps, near the end, I was braking hard before a sharp turn, looking for the white dot (turn here!), and seeing it, turned and punched the gas — and started to drift sideways. DSC kicked in and we were fine — just a flash of tire slippage — but yeah, my blood pressure went up.
That was nothing compared to Nick’s day — a couple of spin outs, to include one that left him facing the other way. Henry put a wheel or two in the dirt on one corner. I stayed dirt free – one of my goals.
For the last lap, we all went out again as a group. Rob came and road with me, walking me through the turns. My own coach. It ruled. Of course, when he sat down in the passenger seat, he pointed behind the rear view mirror and said, “Wow, you’re going to need a new windshield soon, huh?” I had no idea what he was talking about, or that, yeah, my windshield is cracked. Rrrrrr.
We have to do it again, and soon. Yeah, the laps were a blast, but it was a great group to hang out with and a great / classic guy day. I’m sure my wife loved that I had the kids out of the house all day. We loved it.