Beautiful and Dangerous: Nürburgring Nordschleife
Paris has fashion, Milan has design and New York has art. But the tiny German village of Nürburg in the Eifel mountain range, population 165, is a Mecca, an absolute epicenter of the motorsport world. Nürburg owes this reputation to the Nürburgring Nordschleife racecourse that surrounds it, unique throughout the world in its layout and length. The Nordschleife, or "Northern Loop," is 12.93 miles long features some 73 curves. The track also boasts close to 1,000 feet of difference between its highest and lowest points with 16% inclines and 11% descents.
These legendary stats were reason enough for MINI Space to visit the course and investigate its myth from the ground up on August 14th and 15th during the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, the world's largest such motorsport event.
This fantastic event also plays host to the current MINI Challenge racing series, and posed an ideal opportunity for MINI Space to talk to racing, and MINI fans about their associations with the Nürburgring Nordschleife
We caught up with Jürgen Dlugosch, a veteran of the classic Mini scene who's racked up miles and miles on the Nordschleife. He responded to our question about the Nordschleife with an almost philosophical air.
"The most natural thing would actually be to hate the Nordschleife, because it's so unpredictable. The slightest temperature change, every change in the sun's position and even the smallest cloud formation changes the condition of the course lap by lap. But the fact is once you've driven this course, it never lets you go. It's an addiction, and Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart summed up this love-hate relationship perfectly with two words: "Green Hell."
MINI sales representative Chris Leukers agreed, but he's enamored with a different aspect. "I love taking the Nürburgring ‘Touristenfahrten,' literally translated as "tourist drives". A tourist drive is a unique opportunity to drive the racecourse in your own car, subject to compliance with the normal rules of the road. The parking lot at the entrance is always full of fascinating contradictions, ranging from drivers with thousands of laps under their belt to novices fulfilling a life's dream of a single lap around the Nordschleife. You meet everyone from owners of exclusive sports cars to home mechanics who've souped up their cars themselves with lots of elbow grease and TLC. And they're all united by one thing: a passion for the Nordschleife. It's a little like caviar meets bratwurst!"
And speaking of bratwurst, according to Thomas Würtenberger, head of the MINI Clubs International Office and dyed-in-the-wool Nürburgring fan, no racing weekend is complete without the so-called "Rennwurst" - the track's famous sausage dish served in curry sauce with a side of fries.
Alex Arendt, another fan of the MINI as well as a Nordschleife veteran, can do without the Rennwurst as long as he can get behind the wheel of his car and hit the track. He explains, "I agree with Steve McQueen who said: ‘It's only when I'm going fast in a racing car or on a bike that I can really relax.' It's the same for me. My laps around the 13-mile course are the perfect way for me to unwind and recharge my batteries."
But it's not just the drivers who are susceptible to the track's charms. It also captivates outsiders like motorsport photographer Oliver Wegen, who knows every nook and cranny of the curved labyrinth. Oliver says, "Although England claims to be the ‘Home of Motorsport,' there's actually only one course that separates the men from the boys: the Nordschleife. I find it fascinating to watch the races at such a historic venue. It is simply the most beautiful and most dangerous race course in the world."
The Nordschleife is not only one of the most beautiful and dangerous courses in the world; it's also one of the oldest. Racing began here in 1927, starting initially as a means of boosting the Eifel region's economy . Since then it has evolved into one of the region's most essential economic factors. But the Nürburgring Nordschleife is far more - it is a myth, and for many a representation of their attitude towards life. This was clearly demonstrated during MINI Space's visit to the Oldtimer Grand Prix, a series of races featuring classic cars, where all the participants had the same faraway glint in their eyes as they praised this celebrated racecourse.
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