The words Nurburgring and Nordschleife will set the blood of any proper car enthusiast flowing. This place is motor sport Mecca and I had the pleasure of taking my first petrol head pilgrimage to the place with Niki and a whole load of his Lotus chums. I received an email from him in June asking if I’d be interested in joining him for a long weekend in August. I didn’t have to think twice about that one, even though I knew it would only be as a passenger.
Once IÂ´d got the OK from both bosses I was set to join Niki and the SELOC Lotus club he’s part of for the drive down to Germany. This alone was great fun with many looks of awe as we passed people by in a convoy of 10-15 Lotuses. We even had time for a stop of in the Belgian town of Spa for a quick Leffe in the sunshine. Niki, being a man of my own heart, had planned a route taking in some of the twistiest, most picturesque roads possible for the last stretch through the Eiffel Mountains before arriving in the town of Nurburg.
Over the weekend I was treated to several laps out with Niki and one of his friends (who drove a Type R powered series 1) which was truly amazing. True grin factor, enhanced by memories of watching racing at The Ring on TV as a child and dreaming of coming here myself. The track is unreal. So long, fast and flowing better though of one great B road with no oncoming traffic. Racing games and simulators such as Gran Turismo and GTR give a good indication of what it is like, but they give no idea of how much the track changes in altitude. This is one hilly place!
Almost as amazing as being out on track was watching the assorted weaponry being thrown around. The Porsche 911 GT3 RS and BMW M3 CSLs were as common as muck and being absolutely pushed to the limit. The sights, smells and noises were incredible. There were also shed loads of motorbikes. I will never forget a true ring meister on an R1. We were spectating when he came past us, round a corner over a crest at about 200kph lifting the front wheel while cornering pretty much with his knee down scraping the tarmac! Incredible.
Due to the popularity of the place, the track gets pretty busy and hectic during the weekends. The best times to be out, and thus concentrate on the track rather than other cars, are Friday evening, first thing in the morning before breakfast Sat & Sun and on Sunday afternoon after everyone else has gone home. We were out enjoying the final Sunday afternoon laps when Niki’s brakes failed which, despite my own depth of expertise in brake failure, was a tad disconcerting. Thankfully we didn’t leave the track, but it could have been much worse.
It was a truly excellent weekend, especially with the added social element of being surrounded by like minded car nuts and enjoying many beers and several steaks (not to mention the tacky jumper competition). The weekend also served to reminded me of what I love and miss about all things cars. It re-lit the fire if you will. I spent a lot of the weekend day dreaming and planning my next car (something that I’m still doing a lot of 4 months later). Stripped out, light weight weapons and drivers with track knowledge were king at the Ring. Old VW Golfs were harassing Porches and Ferraris. And so, lightweight and stripped out my next project car will be. The current dilemma is what it will be. I’ve currently narrowed it down to Peugeot 205 GTI, Peugeot 106 Rallye or my Honda Type R powered mid engined Mini (although ideas of a modified MG Midget are beginning to creep in). All possible with varying scales of budget, but that very word there, budget, is the real show stopper. Still, with such an assorted array of beautiful cars being driven how they were designed to be, one can only dream…