Nordschleiffe 2017 – Part 1

I KNOW, I KNOW; My previous short article a couple of months ago said that I only write once every 25 years. How time flies.

First, may I take this opportunity to correct an editorial error in my last article.

• The article stated “It’s not the cars, it’s the people”

•  It should have read “It’s not the people, it’s the cars”

I’m sorry if the readers thought that I’d gone soft!

(Editor’s apologies here for a proofreader’s oversight in correcting it to the proper PCA motto)

Anyway, this time, I may have something very interesting for you.

In 2016, I visited the Nürburgring in Germany, for a few days. Since it is the longest (21 km per lap), fastest and most dangerous racetrack in the world, I thought “Why not”?

Since then, I have driven the Nürburgring every year, and it is now a tradition!

OK folks, stay with the tour. I have made this a two-part article for a reason (A secret reason).

Sat. 5th Aug. 2017

I flew from Toronto to Amsterdam (Stop over). Red light district appealing, but this time, sorry girls – I’m on a mission.

Sun. 6th Aug. 2017

Arrived Frankfurt airport. Went to car rental and waited in line to acquire the reserved BMW 2 series. It was not there. It felt like a Gerry Seinfeld episode.

However, they did find a manual “cabriolet” BMW at the other terminal.

I went with it; Although, I really do prefer metal between the road and my head. 

Interesting car. Not my cup of tea. The entertainment/navigation system was all in German. You could choose to have it displayed in English. The instructions for changing it to English, were of course in German! Who said that the Germans don’t have a sense of humour?

I made the two-hour drive from the airport along the Autobahn to my hotel, 22 Km north of Nürburg. Sections had no speed limit! Grrreeeaaaat………. Except, that they are constantly interrupted by 130km, 100km, 80km and 60km limits. I gave up and just doodled along at Toronto speeds.

Arrived at Hotel am Rossberg (On route #257, just by Altenahr) in the evening, and surprisingly it had “room sized” rooms, clean and bright, with a balcony overlooking a forest. The forest was edged by a wire fence! Probably to keep the trees from escaping?

The owner, Frank, showed me the bar, gave me the price list and left to walk his dog. I like him. I like him a lot.

Mon. 7th Aug. 2017

Day off, to relax. I drove around and re-acquainted myself with Nürburg, the Nordschleife track and the beautiful countryside. I stopped off at the race car rental location in Kelberg (10 minute drive south of Nürburg) called “Ring Freaks”, to meet the owner, Ignas. I later met his good friend “Dovis” and the talented mechanic “Peter”. They are all from Lithuania. They really, really know cars!

Ring Freaks is owned and operated by race car fanatics. They rent the very same race cars that they drive… and win! Others renters may only put a racing seat in their cars and call it a racecar. So, better cars, better prices and great people.

Tues. 8th Aug. 2017

On weekdays, the Nordschleife track cost is 25 euro ($37 Cdn. per lap).

At weekends, the cost is 30 euro ($45 Cdn. per lap). There’s discounts for multiple laps. Buy a plastic ticket card at the ticket office (They speak English). Drive to the entry barrier and swipe your plastic to open the barrier. You have now entered “Nirvana”, also known as “The Green Hell”. After each lap, slow down and swipe your card again. Bankruptcy awaits!

I did five laps all of it was wet and greasy. Challenging to say the least. I even followed some of my own advice.

Wed. 9th Aug. 2017

I doodled around the area all day and got to the track early evening. The weather was clear and dry. I did five laps again and went for a beer and meal with Ignas at the local track hangout, close to the track. The “PistonKlausse” is full of “Trackies” and has steak on hot volcanic rock. You can cook it yourself, the way you like it. 

The waitress did not leave me a tip, but did bring us a very large bill, luckily belonging to another table.

Thurs. 10th Aug. 2017

I have absolutely no idea what I did today.

Fri. 11th Aug. 2017

Nordschleife track closed for an Old Timer event. I hope to qualify some day. So, what to do? I decided to drive to Belgium and arrived at Spa Francochamp race track three hours later.

It is a one and a half hour drive. 

Apparently the Belgians do not approve of road number signage. In fact, when approaching a “Y” junction with roads of equal importance diverging at equal angles, the only signage was two arrows pointing in both directions. Very Helpful!

The weather was wet. I walked through the tunnel under the entry to the famous corner “Eau Rouge” and passed the “ Eau Rouge Drivers Club” building. It was locked. I did not have a key. I am not a member. Invitation lost in the mail…

It was a motorbike track event, so did not employ my full attention. I did invest in a cappuccino at the nearby cafe. It had all the attributes of a cup of coffee, yet all the expense of a Toronto mortgage. 

I returned to Nürburg on the German side, but apparently took the scenic route, as the return trip took longer than the initial foray. 

I returned to the hotel and took up residence in the bar. Location of owner/bartender unknown. I left money and a note, to establish my presence and consumption. Overnight, both disappeared. I’m really getting attached to the owner, Frank.

Saturday. 12th August 2017 

“A day that will live in infamy”. It was a dark and stormy day. I tell you my friends, the Gods were angry. Nordschleife track was to open between 1 and 7pm.

In the morning I decided to explore the local countryside and met some interesting people. I found out that there is a large 100m diameter Astronomical Radio Telescope just 30 minutes north of Nürburg. It is west off main north/south road #257, just north of Dümpelfeld. Small roads lead to Obliers, Plittersdorf and finally Effelsberg. Then look for small signs or ask. Park at Café and a five min. walk to Max Plank Installation. Address: D-53902 Bad-Muenstereifel, Effelsberg. Sorry to bore the uninterested! See photos. WOW! More info can be found at: 

Now, I arrived at the Nordschleife track with the BMW e36, and during the afternoon did four wet and slippery laps, under dull light, under a grey and wet sky. I then hung out with Ignas and his good friend Dovis, near the “Devils Diner” at the track.

About 4pm Dovis decided to ride with me for a lap and so we set off. Wisely, he did suggest that I not try to impress him with my non-existent talent. I said that I had enough experience to fully understand his request, and complied. 

We sailed around the track like a ballet dancer (I’ve never done ballet).

Now, there are 154 corners comprising the Nordschleife track (or 71 corners if you believe the mathematically inept).Some of the corners look very similar. Trees, asphalt, plain metal Armco barriers etc. It is possible that one corner may be mistaken for another, especially near the end of the day.

Oops, I’m running out of space. I hope that you will join me for the concluding episode.

Yours Very Ever So, Phil White (“The Wise”). </>

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