Driving the Nürburgring Nordschleife

Hidden in the German Eifel Forest, lays the ultimate driving experience for non-professional race-drivers: the Nürburgring Nordschleife, better known as “the Ring”. With its length of 21km (13 miles) and lots of demanding bends it was nicknamed The Green Hell and is considered the toughest, most dangerous and most demanding circuit in the world.

nordschleife

Nürburgring Nordschleife

The Nordschleife (North loop) was built in the 1920s around the village of Nürburg in the Eifel Mountains as a dual-purpose test track and race circuit . The track was originally constructed as part of a major employment project in the Eifel to boost the local economy. The circuit eventually became one of the most famous racetracks in the world. But after the almost fatal crash of Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda in 1976, the track was no longer used for Formula 1 races. These races moved to a new circuit built nearby in 1986.

Despite the loss of the Formula 1, the Nordschleife is still heavily used as a test track today, and there are some race events on it also. But the best thing is that it’s made available for public use. On many evenings and weekends you can take your car there to experience what it feels like to be a racing driver.

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During these public sessions, the track officially is a one-way public toll-road with no speed limit. Your car must be 100% road-legal (no racecars allowed), noise-limited of 95dB and insured. The circuit is seen as a public road, and the normal German road traffic law applies.

When arriving at the ring, you'll need to buy tickets to access the circuit. These are available at the entrance. If you just want to do a lap or two, you can buy single-lap tickets. Better value are the 4, 15, and 25-lap tickets. Note that all tickets are valid for a calendar year only. They expire at 31st December with no chance for refunds.

Nürburgring ticket prices 2014
1 lap € 27,-
4 laps € 100,-
9 laps € 209,-
25 laps € 518,-
Season ticket € 1650,-

Click here to check the opening times of the Nordschleife.

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Driving the Nordschleife

It's impossible to describe just how good the track is until you've been there. Imagine your favorite mountain road without speed limits or traffic. Keep in mind however that this is a racetrack and be aware of the dangers. Serious accidents are an everyday occurrence here.

Before you start racing yourself, it’s recommended to drive with an experienced ring driver as a passenger. The Ring is very long and has a lot of bends who can have some nasty surprises, because you can’t see the exit of the bend while entering. When you feel confident enough, try a first, slow lap and take someone with you to act as a rear view mirror for spotting faster traffic. This way, you can concentrate on the track. If a faster car shows up, you should move to the right to letit overtake you. If you fail to do so and an accident happens, it will be your fault because you were driving on the wrong side of the road. (Remember that according to the German traffic law, the track is a public road)

It's also best to go out when it's quiet (early in the morning in the weekend, or at weekday evening sessions) and force yourself to take regular breaks. Most accidents happen when people get tired and loose control of their car on this long and exhausting track.

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Tips and tricks

Car hire
If you won't risk crashing your own car, there are plenty of rental companies around the track. Rentals start at around €100 for half a day and €300 for a full day. Big rental companies like Avis or Europcar forbid to use their cars on the ring. They even employ spotters to report the use of their cars on the Ring. They will make you pay the full cost of any damage incurred on the Ring, or will charge a penalty even if you are not involved in accident. We advise Rent4ring.de

Insurance
The Nordschleife is considered a public road in Germany and, until a few years ago, insurance covered damage to property and third party claims while driving it. The increasing popularity of the Ring and the substantial number of crashes there led insurance companies to exclude the Nurburgring from comprehensive car insurance cover. Unless you have specific track day cover for the Nurburgring, general insurers will not pay to repair your car if you crash there. Most people accept the risk of driving uninsured on the Nordschleife, without fully appreciating how bad the consequences could be if something went wrong. Keep this always in mind!

Ring Taxi
Most drivers are happy to offer passenger laps, but if you want to see how it really should be done, BMW runs a "Ring Taxi" service from April to October where you can take a ride around the Nordschleife with one of their professional race-pilots in a BMW M3. Tickets cost €225 per car and can be booked here.

tags: 
road trip, europe, germany