Nurburgring 24 hour race 2011

Posted: August 30, 2011 in News
Tags: , , ,

Nur24 – A trilogy in four parts

Part 1

Like rooting to a super model or setting your arse in a Lamborghini for anything longer than a couple of seconds (which is all you’ll get from the latte-sipping salesman who stops chatting up the secretary to chase you away), the Nurburgring 24 hour race is a life event that demands ticking off the bucket list for anyone with even a little unleaded pumping through their veins.

The Ring is the cathedral of worship for real drivers, road or race. It doesn’t matter if it’s on two or four wheels, if you have that burning urge inside for cars and driving then this is the place to be.

Although the weather is dreary with the kind of light, fairy-piss rain that does nothing but annoy, the sense of excitement and anticipation is palpable.

Ferrari started from pole but the SLS Mercs look (and sound) the goods, but it’s hard to predict anything here as 24 hours is a long time and the Gods of the Ring ultimately decide the outcome, no matter how well any team thinks they have prepared.

To be mingling with the cars and drivers on the grid along with 40,000 other car-nuts (with semi-legitimate paddock passes) is a privilege that is right up there with the super model (Claudia Schiffer please) and Lambo experiences, and while the gratification of the latter pair would only last a few minutes, the race still has it’s full 24 hours to run in which I’m expecting to endure all the pain, pleasure and beers that would normally be experienced in a normal man’s year. Bring it on.

Part 1.5

From the swank of the Porsche corporate suite (and its incredible buffet), to the stank of the public toilet in the press centre, you can experience it all at the Nurburgring.

From sipping champers and downing prawns on a stick, to sitting in the mud slowly devolving into an illutible motorsport fanatic, the race provokes different reactions in everyone.

Me? I’m enjoying the warmth of the media centre now but I’m feeling an overpowering, primal urge to expose myself to the elements, tear chunks of half-cooked meat off the bone, drink a shitload of beer and howl at the moon.

Night will fall soon and the transformation will begin. Looking at the fans around me I won’t be alone.

Part 2

Watching the cars from any vantage point around the Ring is incredible, but when you are on pit wall mere feet from race cars hammering down the main straight, it’s just sphincter clenchingly scary, and inspiring.

While all the world might be a stage, there is no place but centre stage. So why be watching when you could be driving?

That is the great thing about this event. If you have the requisite dosh there will always be a team (a small team, but a team nonetheless) ready to give you a seat. BUT you do need a modicum of talent and balls that clang when you walk. Other than that, even an Antipodean scribe with a dodgy knee could fulfil the dream of driving in the greatest race in the world.

Night has now fallen and tanks start to empty on both the crowd and the cars. Pitstops of all kinds are made, the drivers for fresh rubber and fuel, the crowd for much the same judging by the quivering tents and queues at the beer stalls.

Talking to a bloke earlier, one pit stop story around here is that a German fella who punted an old W107 Merc coupe at this place in years gone past had three things to pit for, fuel, tyres and a fresh set of CDs in the 6-stack player.

Walking to the Karussell, KISS is playing over the loudspeakers in some sort of weird ‘rock and race’ mélangeIt works well too, everyone is having a ball all around the track dancing, drinking and barbecuing meat. This definitely isn’t a place for vegetarians.

Part 3

Sitting at the Karussell as the sun came up this morning was one experience that will stay with me for a very long time.

Cars scythe into the corner – splitters hitting the road, brake discs glowing – was just incredible. As was the angle of the banking, much steeper than it looks on a flat monitor or TV.

Earlier negotiating our way to the corner was like walking through a neo-hippie camp, complete with crappy trance music, glow sticks and crazy, off-their-face bastards everywhere. It was awesome.

The disparity between the mindsets of the spectators and the drivers at first seems vast.

Both usually get a bit of a kip at some point during the dark time, but the element of focus on the part of the drivers must be immense.

Alternatively they could be getting off on the whole party element of the event, as (of course) speeds were noticeably lower at night.

Who wouldn’t enjoy the aroma of cooking meat, the beauty of fireworks exploding over the track (usually fired off from the top of the safety fence), and the fug of smoke from a million camp fires lingering over the track, separated by the explosion of a race car, like some 80’s music clip (replete with fog machine) but on fast forward.

If you have ever wanted to come to the Ring but the tyranny of distance or under-abundance of folding in the wallet has been a deterrent, beg, borrow and/or steal yourself a way here.

As cliché as it sounds, it really is an experience you will never forget.

Words and Photos © Dillon Media 2011

  1. Gerrard Downing says:

    Well written, imaginative and great photos ! Realyl inspires me to get to the LeMans Classic.

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