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A Lap at Nürburgring

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In October of 2013, I accompanied a friend to Germany for a European Delivery on his BMW 435i M Sport (you can read about that by clicking here).  After picking up his car, we visited several cities in Germany (Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne) but certainly a highlight of the trip was our visit to Nürburg Germany and the infamous Nürburgring:

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FY7A0470For those unfamiliar, the Nürburgring is an absolute mecca for auto racing fans – it features a Grand Prix race track built in 1984, and a much longer old “North loop” (Nordschleife) track which was built in the 1920s around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg in the Eifel mountains.

Pictured above is where the main Nürburgring facility is located, which is directly in front of the Grand Prix track.  We were there on Saturday and there was a professional race happening at the Grand Prix track, but the North Loop was also brimming with activity.  Before we decided to try our luck on the Nordschleife we explored about around the main facility area:

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Some day I’d love to come back and attend their high speed driving school – they of course use BMW’s in the classes:

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We were pleased to see that BMW has a significant presence at Nürburgring:

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We did a little shopping in the gift shop:

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Whether there to race or simply to see and be seen, I spotted more exotic cars driving around than I’d every seen in any one place – BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini…I saw multiples of each, and even a few I didn’t recognize:

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After exploring a bit at the main facility, we headed over to the North Loop to race – it was getting late, and dark clouds were fast approaching.  The first stop was the ticket area where you buy your “ticket” – which a credit card like plastic card that’s coded with the number of laps for which you paid.  The price was 27 euros per lap, or about $36.00 a lap in US dollars.  After you get your ticket, you line up to be let through a gate, one car at a time:

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FY7A0518We were off!

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More BMW representation at Nürburgring:

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Almost right out of the gate we got our first surprise:  We sort of assumed they spaced out the starts such that it would be darn difficult to catch up to the person who went before you….in other words, we sort of thought we’d be racing the clock…not other people.  We also assumed that because my friend’s BMW 435i M Sport had temporary tourist plates on the car, that other drivers would steer a WIDE birth around us “ameteurs” on the track.  Both assumptions turned out to be utterly false.  Almost immediately, the other drivers came at us fast and hard….cutting right in front of us like we’d driven the track for years.  In fact during my lap, on two separate occasions only fast reflexes help avert us hitting cars which passed us.  Since my friends car was brand new and we didn’t know the track well, we kept our speed mostly between 70 and 100 MPH.

I took two laps total – one lap in the passenger seat, and one in the driver’s seat.  These photos are a combination from both runs.

As I mentioned during my visit to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart earlier that week, I was disappointed in not having seen a 944 on display at the museum.  It’s never fun to be passed on a race track, but I was excited to see this Porsche 944 that passed us at one point:

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We got passed by several other Porsches….

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And a Ferrari…

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These two Corvettes were going at it pretty hard and flew by us….

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…and we got passed up by more than a few BMW’s, and…well…you get the point.  🙂  there were definitely some very serious racers on the track who were driving VERY aggressively.  Of course, a few folks did spin out or go off the track as a result:

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For years, I’ve been playing FORZA MOTORSPORT on X-Box…but I did very little to prepare me for driving on Nürburgring’s Nordschleife – over 12 miles and 154 turns from begining to end.  It’s not JUST the number of turns that get you…there are some really extreme changes in elevation which also make for some interesting racing:

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We finally found the finish line!

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A photo of Yours Truly behind the wheel:

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Between our two laps there were some accidents that needed to be cleared away, so they closed the track down and everybody lined up their cars waiting to go back into “The Green Hell” as the North Loop of Nürburgring is infamously known:

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A shot of me next to my friend’s BMW 435i M Sport:

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The day we spent at Nürburgring was surely a highlight of the trip and one of the most unique racing experiences anywhere in the world.  I’ve driven on some neat tracks in the US (most notably Laguna Seca) but never have I actually raced with other cars around me (outside of a go-cart track).  And to be able to race Nürburgring with your own car (or pretty close to it…I own a 335i M Sport which is essentially the same car my friend bought with two extra doors) is absolutely amazing.  Driving on the Autobahn is fun, but Nürburgring is the best!

To complement this photo report, I’ve also created a video from the GoPro footage recorded during the race:

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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