OK NOW, WHERE DID I LEAVE OFF in part #1 of this article? Ah yes… I flew from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany.
Apparently, there is a racetrack at Nürburg that is the longest (21 Km), fastest and most dangerous racetrack in the world. So what! I’m am experienced high performance driver. What could possibly go wrong!
I stayed at a hotel near Altenahr, about 20 Km north of Nürburg on the main north/south route # 257. I rented a BMW e36 racecar from “Ring Freaks”, just 10 Km south of Nürburg, in Kelberg. I did some laps of the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife (also known as the “Green Hell”, thanks to Sir Jackie Stewart). The German Formula One venue at the Nordschleife was relocated after Nicki Lauda’s terrible crash and burn in 1976.
Anyway, If you remember part #1, I was just taking “Dovis” for a ride around a very dull, dank and wet Nordschleife racetrack, and frankly – doing OK. However, as I mentioned in “Part 1” last month (You did read part 1, didn’t you?) some corners look similar!
I approached a corner after “Exmuhle” that is half way around the track. Now, I recognized the upcoming corner, and knew that it headed onto a long and fast straight. I therefore accelerated, and the data showed that I was doing 130 Km/hr. Unfortunately, although I knew that I was correct; I was wrong!
I was actually approaching a tight right, late apex, dangerous corner, that then lead onto the fast straight (Bergwerk)! Oops! Not the actual words that I used when I realized my little boo-boo. What to do? What to do, indeed! I decided to crash.
I was approaching a tight right, late apex, dangerous corner, that then lead onto the fast straight (Bergwerk)! Oops! Not the actual words that I used when I realized my little boo-boo. What to do? What to do, indeed! I decided to crash.
I impacted the metal barrier to my left at a speed of 80Km/h (50 mph) and took out 5 sections of the offending structure. Apparently, each section costs CAD $450!
After sliding to a halt, thanks to a newly polished metal barrier, I felt it only polite to inquire after the health and welfare of my passenger, “Dovis”. He appeared a little surprised. I suspect the reason being that it was his first ride with me.
Now, to be fair, Dovis did gesture me to slow down upon the approach to that fateful corner. However, I was more focused of where to crash and probably thought that he was just being chicken!
After we came to rest, Dovis did offer me some helpful advice. He said: “I told you so”. I shall pay closer attention to Dovis. The corner track Marshall signaled us that the local yellow was displayed, so we hopped out of the car, via the passenger side, and over the barrier.
The recovery was under a “Hot Lap”, so only a local yellow displayed, and no track shut down. I would have to pay for a track closure (Don’t ask!). All of their Track Marshalls are active or retired police officers. The flatbed from Bongard came and removed the BMW. They took it back to Kelberg, only 10 Km south of Nürburg, for CAD $700! By the way, Bongard has the exclusive contract for the Nürburgring!!!!
Can you imagine how I felt after a German Police Officer approached me and said “Papers Please”? After the Marshalls had documented the incident, they gave me a ride back to the office. I asked that if they had crashed, would they have to pay? They said no. I then asked if I could borrow their car for the next day; they again said no.
I attended the office and paid for the barrier, the attending Marshalls, the clean up crew, the site equipment, the track vehicle, workforce weekday, and administrative fee. My credit cards were melting. I then spent some time in the office at Ring Freaks, regarding the vehicle damage. Ignas was gracious, accommodating and quoted a repair cost that was less than the contract called for. He can fix anything!
I called Canada and borrowed a blank cheque! I saw all the damage! Gearbox, Engine mounts, Front and rear suspension broken, steering rack, quality wheels bent, lights, front fender, front bumper, front supports, Bodywork etc., etc. Other damage included a cracked phone belonging to Dovis, and some cracked ribs, belonging to myself.
I offered to replace his phone, but he preferred to keep it as a souvenir. He said that it was his first crash on the Nordschleife. Happy to oblige! I decided that this would be a good time to inquire about the availability of a replacement vehicle. Unfortunately, mostly booked.
Sunday 13 Aug. 2017
Today, the track was open between 1 and 7pm. I arrived at the track Diner just after 1pm and met Ignas and Dovis. They both had track cars. I didn’t. Dovis offered to give me a ride around the track. He’s a really good driver and remembered every turn (Rather that every turn but one). He built the car himself and leaves it at the Ring Freaks location while working in Berlin.
Shortly after the ride, the track was closed due to an incident. Apparently a McLaren dropped oil at the fastest part of the track (Foxhole). A number of cars and people were involved. Three helicopters and several ambulances took up most of the afternoon. The track was later declared closed for the day.
Monday 14 Aug.2017
I woke up but couldn’t move. The inevitable consequences had finally arrived. I couldn’t sit up or roll over and get out of bed. The telephone was on the other side of the room (Note to Frank!)
If that wasn’t bad enough, I suddenly got cramping in both legs. This was further compounded by my bladder urging me to visit the bathroom. What to do? What to do indeed! You will be glad to know that I fought the pain and successfully completed my mission with time to spare.
I drove down to Kelberg in the afternoon and viewed the disassembled car. Replacement parts were already delivered. I spoke with Ignas but he had bad news for me. The other clients had actually arrived, and therefore… no car for Phil! But, then came the good news. Dovis had called and offered to lend me his racecar to drive on the track. Wow! Thank goodness for short memories!
It was my last day in Germany, and I drove four laps of the Nordschleife in Dovis’s BMW. Under the circumstances, it was the most incredible four laps of my life. I returned his car in perfect condition. If you ever see someone else driving my 1974 Nine hundred and eleven, Introduce yourself to Dovis.
Tues. 15 Aug. 2017
I managed to get back to Frankfurt airport in time for the flight back to Toronto, via Detroit. I failed to fill the gas tank, so expected a penalty upon its return. I was not disappointed. The actual fuel cost to fill the tank was $75 CAD. The penalty charge, over and above that, was $155 CAD. I retrieved the car and found a gas station.
My arrival in Detroit precipitated several long line-ups. My ribs and I made it through two of them, but the third long line made me cry Uncle. I now became a “Special Needs” traveler. They provided a wheelchair that looked like it came straight out of the movie set for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
You may be interested to know that Frank Pezer, owner of the Hotel am Rossberg, in Altenahr, will be obtaining several road legal Go-Karts for rent. I kid you not!. He should have some by the time you read this (If it gets published).
E-mail Frank for more info:
firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel. 02643/904 799 0 / www.hotelamrossberg.de
One evening, at the local track restaurant “PistonKlasse” I met another friend of Ignas. His name is Misha, a Russian car guy. His “You Tube” name is “Boosted Boris”. Look him up. I was fortunate to have met some great people (Almost worth crashing for).
If you’re interested in driving the “Ring”, I suggest getting in touch with Ignas at “Ring Freaks”:
email@example.com / +49 160 91083555 / Dauner Strasse 31, 53539 Kelberg (DE) / www.Ringfreaks.de
SOME OTHER QUICK INFO:
The Nordschleife was built in two years and opened in 1927. It was to help a depressed economy in the region. Around the same time, another smaller track was built called the “Sudschleife”. This track was not as popular as its big brother.
Apparently some careless tank drivers in the forties made the Sudschleife a bit of a mess. It was left to decay and over part of the Sudschleife was built the newish GP track and buildings that stand today. While the new GP track has much safer features, like wider run off areas, it does not hold the same fascination as the legendary Nordschleife. Actually, wider run off areas sounds rather appealing.
Yours Very Ever So, Phil White (“The WISER”). </>