What It’s Like To Drive The Nurburgring

June 19, 2019 – By Ivy Boyter

 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to drive The Nurburgring?

“With 170 corners and varying elevation changes, it can take months to just learn the track and years to go around it quickly.” ~Business Insider

The Nürburgring is a motorsports complex located in Nurburg, Germany featuring a Grand Prix racetrack built in 1984, and the iconic Nordschleife, or North Loop track.

Nordschleife was built in the ‘20s around the castle (actually a “burg”) of Nurburg in the Eifel mountains.  The north loop is 12.9 miles long and has over 1,000 feet of elevation change from the lowest to highest points.  It’s no wonder Jackie Stewart nicknamed the old track “The Green Hell”.

overhead image of Nurburgring

With nearly 13-miles of track bliss and 70 to 170 corners (depending on how they’re counted) – it will test your endurance, memory, and skill.  Driving this track can be summed up in two words; intimidating and exhilarating.

couple with rented cars at RSR Nurburg. Ivy shares what it's like to drive the Nurburgring

Photo Credit: Kostas at RSR Nurburg

My husband and I enjoyed this experience as part of our wedding anniversary trip to Europe. Quick tip for anyone interested in driving The Nürburgring, we used RSR Nürburg to rent the cars, took a half-day tour through Nürburg, and received instruction prior to our laps.

We also signed up for an annual membership at our local track, The Florida International Rally & Motorsports park.  We knew if a Formula One racer calls Nürburgring the “Green Hell” we needed some serious Green Hell Help!  Besides the great team and proximity to our home, The FIRM is also a tight technical track with 10 turns so we were able to really work on this aspect of tackling “Green Hell”.  When you get to the You Tube Corner Video – you can see why this was so valuable to us finishing our experience without incident!

This was my Nürburging Driving Experience!

Because we had such a fantastic time, I thought it was important to share what it’s like to drive The Nurburgring!

Once you press your entry card to open the gate, it’s time to zoom off onto a track with what little pointers you can remember from your single instructed lap.

The experience is different from state-side track driving. Instead of point-by passing, you use turn signals to indicate that you are getting out of the way of faster traffic.  And, it’s quite the feat to remember that all overtaking is done on the left.

What this means, is that if you’re the slower traffic, you’re not keeping the racing line, but allowing people to pass.  If you’re the faster traffic, you’re only overtaking on the left and you may or may not get the proper racing line either, depending on the corner.

One thing I wished I’d taken along was chewing gum to help pop my ears from regular elevation changes throughout the four laps.

The FIRM track decal on a railing at The Nurburgring in Germany

What It’s Like To Drive The Nurburgring

Because the course is nearly 13 miles long, it’s easy to forget many of the pointers your instructor will give you.  What I made sure to take note of was:

  • Don’t break on the crests.
  • Put all 4 wheels on the carousel.
  • Don’t pay attention to the spectators – YouTube Corner is named so for a reason, and you don’t want to be caught in a Nordschleife Fails video on YouTube.
  • Be mindful of traffic – there are guys out there that do this every day with no regard for your comfort and others out there to prove themselves but have never been on The Ring before.
  • There’s not a lot of room for error.
  • Give your brakes time to cool down after each lap.

Let’s just say, I felt embarrassingly slow in all 3 of my solo laps.  But it was a thrill to have cars whizzing by me at speeds – only the insane – or insanely experienced – would attempt.  I did some zipping of my own, as the super slow and the super speedy all zoom around at once.

The weekday open public event is even crazier!  You never know what you’ll see on track.  It’s not uncommon to see motorcycles, minivans, or even transit vehicles.  Tour busses have been spotted on The Ring – just another reason it draws so many You Tubers!

You’re going to test your endurance and skill.  Even at slow speeds, you learn new things and how to handle a car on such a tough track.

No matter how fast, or slow you go, you’re going to leave The Ring with a smile on your face and fulfillment in your heart.  You have just experienced the track of dreams that few will make it to!

The worst of the experience is time!  You realize you just don’t have enough in one trip or even 20 to learn all her curves.  She will haunt you.  You will dream of the day you might return.  Imagines of you taking the track like a professional will taunt you!

Whether you’re hoping to go for the first time or are planning a return trip, prepare yourself.  Come practice at The FIRM Open Track Day.  You can master vehicle dynamics, test your endurance and experience total car control.  Sign up for HPDE if you want feedback on how to hit the apex (notice most of the You Tube Corner blunders were the result of improper corner control)!  Rally at The FIRM is another great tool to help you get ready.  Notice when they hit the turn wrong, they usually bumper car back across the ring to the other wall? That’s from oversteering and not knowing how to handle surface changes (grass in this case back to pavement) – and rally will help you master this technique!