The Nürburgring is a spot that enjoys hallowed standing inside the collective psyche of petrolheads all over the place.
For many years, the treacherous 15.5-mile Nordschleife circuit that scythes maniacally via dense forest and over rolling hills has been a spot the place automotive and driver alike have been put via their paces bodily, mentally and mechanically. Not all come out unscathed; the ‘Inexperienced Hell’ has destroyed greater than the odd race automotive over time.
Automobile lovers from world wide make the pilgrimage to this petrolhead mecca virtually all 12 months spherical. However till final weekend, I’d by no means been. And so far as first instances go, mine was a reasonably particular one. The circus that’s the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race had rolled into city, bringing with it some 150 race vehicles, round 580 drivers and a 230,000-strong horde of followers.
Whilst somebody with solely a passing curiosity in motorsport, I discovered it not possible to not get caught up in what is among the racing world’s most outrageous carnivals. A part of that is the liberty you have got as a punter to stay your nostril the place it in all probability shouldn’t be. Earlier than the race begins, you’ll be able to wander the pit lane and entry the garages, all of that are shared by a number of groups. Nothing says ‘immersion’ like being shouted at by a mechanic as you attempt to snap a grainy smartphone picture of the groups at work.
The grid is open forward of the race, too. The air right here is thick with the odor of sweat and petrol, and followers swarm of their tons of to get a more in-depth have a look at not solely the vehicles, however the drivers and groups as nicely. Taking a stroll down between the columns of vehicles actually hammers residence the range of the sphere. Right here, GT3-class Ferraris, Porsches, Audis and Lamborghinis race at full throttle alongside tricked-out BMW 1 Sequence Coupés, Renault Clios, KTM X-Bows and every part in between. Some courageous souls had entered an historic Mk3 Volkswagen Golf that, slightly surprisingly, turned out to be one of many loudest vehicles on the grid. It’s a bonkers place.
However not fairly as bonkers as what goes on within the woods surrounding the observe. The tenting areas among the many bushes close to Karussell, Brünnchen, Metzgesfeld and Adenau are the place you’ll discover the ultra-fans. Many have been camped out for the reason that starting of the week, having arrived early to erect big viewing platforms, makeshift bars and even levels out of no matter supplies they had been capable of deliver alongside. A number of the time, the examples of engineering you discover off the observe are simply as spectacular as these you see on the observe.
Exploring these camps after darkish is about as near sensory overload as you may get. Headlights dance among the many bushes. Fireworks erupt. Dying steel and the extra hardcore forms of techno music play at full quantity, combating to be heard above a refrain of flat sixes, V8s, V10s, turbocharged four-pots and inline sixes. The acrid odor of bonfire smoke fuses with physique odour, beer and barbecue as hundreds of campers participate in a bacchanal of epic proportions.
If you’d like an genuine N24 expertise, that is the place to seek out it. Admittedly, tenting won’t be for everybody. However for those who love racing and haven’t been earlier than, go. When you don’t care a lot for motor racing, go. Even for those who don’t have an curiosity in vehicles by any means, I’d urge you to present it a strive. You could discover that modifications.
Racing Traces: Easy methods to survive the Nurburgring 24 Hours
Quickest-ever Nurburgring lap instances – the definitive rundown
Porsche smashes all-time Nurburgring report – with on-board video