Friday, October 1 So, I did it – I drove a track car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife! The 12.9-miles both terrified and thrilled. I wish I could have kept going!
The Green Hell
Built in the 1920s around the Nürburg castle, the Nürburgring Nordschleife (“ring at Nürburg, north loop”) is a legend. If you’ve seen the Ron Howard movie “Rush,” this is where the fateful race took place. Sir Jackie Stewart, 3-time Formula-One champion, gave the track its nickname, “The Green Hell”. Here supercars are tested and refined. For years, I have read Motor Trend or Car and Driver articles on McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche, and others as their teams vie for the ultimate lap time. So I had to see it while in the area!
A Public Highway
As I researched the Nürburgring, I learned that it is open periodically for any driver and car on “Touristic Drives.” For those periods, the track is considered a German public road like the autobahn. Drive on the right, pass on the left, no speed limits. The only absolute rule: don’t be stupid.
As I excitedly relayed this to Jean, she said, “Can you rent a track car to drive?” She knows me so well. Thanks, Jean!
The track was open for Touristic drives on Friday night from 5:15 to 7 pm. I found RingToys, and they were great about getting me set up for the ‘ring with a Renault Meghane 275 Trophy with semi-slick tires, updated suspension, a tune, and monster brakes for a four-lap run. They connected me with Rene, a track coach. He had one lap scheduled with another client, then would join me. I was in business.
One Fast Lap
Friday was a track day, and all of the track drivers stayed for the Tourist Drive. There were probably 100 cars waiting to get on the track. And almost as soon as the Nordschleife opened, it was closed again: someone had wrecked. It happens; this is a track. The driver was ok, but they had to haul the car from the track. Every other driver just waited. And waited. And waited for the track to be clear.
Finally, at 6:30 pm, the the marshal re-opened the track, and everyone was off. Rene, my coach, was with his first client. I waited and worried the track would close before I got a lap with Rene. So, I decided to go it alone. I’d had some training at the Porsche Track Experience earlier in the year. That experience and some caution would have to do.
WHAT A BLAST. Laugh about French cars, if you will, but the Meghane was fantastic. I passed a motorcycle. Then while I screeched around a blind corner on cold slicks, a McClaren and Porsche GT3 flew by like I was standing still. But that was all part of the fun.
Just as I completed my first lap, the track closed again with another wreck. My driving day was over. But dream achieved! I can’t wait to drive Nürburgring Nordschleife again.