What kid didn’t want to be a race car driver at some point in life?
Aside from kids like Boy George and Waka Flaka, regular kids.
I know I did. I used to go to bed with little toy cars under my pillow so I could play with them if I woke up in the middle of the night.
I must admit I never grew up, hence that dream is still alive and kicking today. Every ocupation, interest, discipline in life has an ultimate, a culmination, a mecca. For little 10 year old kids that want to race that mecca without contest is The Nurburgring.
With each passing year I promised my friends that I would one day lap the famous Northern pass, my dream seemed all the more distant. Money came and went but never in the direction of a plane ticket to the little town placed carefuly in the mountains of West Germany. I just about excused myself from accomplishing this #1 on my list of things to do before I became one with the dirt.
Until April 4th 2013.
I found myself rolling into the world famous town, late, about 40 min. after my scheduled turn to loop the Green Hell.
Without a GPS finding the town is a bit tricky but it is worth the effort.
Not willing to let this chance slip away I decided to check into a bed and breakfast right across the street from Rent4Ring, the agency that makes dreams come true for so many nerds around the world (I will highlight these guys in a later post).
Before going to sleep I decided to go sight see around the town. It was freezing cold so I put on thermals and gym shorts under my jeans and headed out.
Germany had a dark almost sinister feel. I could hear cars still lapping the ring and a few lights in the distance.
I stumbled upon an industrial park housing many auto manufacturers as well as aftermarket and tire companies.
I was surprised to see Heico as well. Not a well known brand outside of the Volvo group (at least in the states), but a very quality parts maker.
I tried to work out a way to break into the Aston Martin headquarters so I could borrow their GT car. This has been the object of my desire for quite some time.
Closer to my hotel was the BMW site. The super rare E92 Limerock Park Edition M3, a V10 race engine, as well as a diesel E36 race car were showcased in the window.
Too cold to go on any further I returned to my hotel room.
I turned on the T.V. and watched a few American movies dubbed over in German. That got old fast so I tried to doze off, but inevitably the excitement kept me up most the night. The sound of some dude shagging his lady friend didn’t help much either.
The next morning I woke up with the intention of walking the entire track and documenting it. I peeked out my window and saw the most beautiful sight I have seen in a long time.
R34 GTR…911 Turbo…R33 GTR…and a bonus…Audi R8 all in the same glance. Yep. This was going to be a great day no matter how cold it was.
I organized myself so as not to be late for my appointment with The Ring. I had stopped in a gas station to pick up some items the night before and spotted something the nerd in me just had to have…
I stopped by Rent4Ring again and filled out my paperwork so as to streamline the process when I returned at 5pm. Then I headed out to walk the track and take a few shots. Little did I know how stupid of an idea that was.
After a short walk the tarmac I had seen so many times on Play Station and Youtube stretched out in front of me in eerie silence.
Then in the unmistakable sound of a wound up engine and tires begging for a timeout slowly became audible. Moments later the machines were upon me.
Wanting to get a better view I walked towards an opening in the gate.
I pretended the whole sign was in German and proceeded to a better vantage point.
Disclaimer: I also like to pretend that I am a photographer at times, the evidence against me is underwhelming but I did the best I could with a new DSLR I had no experience with prior to this experience.
After this little burst I walked on. I passed a few people as well as some stewards parked in various strategic locations keeping a watchful eye, a few on the back of their eyelids.
Off in the distance I could see the paddock, stands, and garages.
As I day dreamed I heard again the approaching of Boxster engines and ran towards the track to be ready to shoot.
Again I climbed down towards the inner barrier to get a closer look and feel the wake of the wind the line of cars made.
I continued to walk along the inner barrier, dodging headlights and bits of body work from misfortunes of days past. Stopping like clockwork to fire shots at the passing cars every time they sprinted past.
This white 458 at the back of the train sounded like the Devil in an elevator trying to cover up his farts by clearing his throat and coughing. It was so pretty and sounded glorious.
At this point the footpath separated from the track and went over a bridge. I had to trek through the woods to stay close to it. I followed the sound of cars and I made my way through the creepy woods.
I came to a clearing just as the crew was making their rounds.
At this point the cars were picking up confidence and subsequently speed and ripping faster than ever.
I ran into a lady steward (stewardess??) Who was asking me questions in German.
Through a series of gestures and us pointing and speaking in our native tongue I finally realized she was asking me how I got there. I made walking gestures with my fingers to explain I had been walking the track. she got onto her walkie talkie speaking to who I can only assume was the Supreme Chancellor of the Nurburgring asking if she should shoot me in the head and use my blood to freshen up the candy canes on the track.
After moments of frustration and looks of exasperation she turned down her walkie, smiled and said
“OK…” as she motioned go ahead.
“But No…” She made a gesture with her hand indicating that I was not to cross over the track for fear that I messed up a 6 figure car with my carcass.
Just as I walked away a TVR came ripping past breaking my left eardrum in half and stealing my heart…
Armed with permission from Supreme Chancellor Overlord of the Ring to walk the track I smiled and let the moment soak in. I was in a historic place doing something many may never get to do. The excitement was somewhat hollow as I wished I had a few of my good friends to share the experience with.
I walked on and on and on…
…hours passed and eventually I lost sight of the track. I had no watch and the sun was shrouded in a thick film of grey. I eventually came to a paved path and stumbled upon a town.
As I walked through the town stopping every startled local to ask how to get back to the town of Nurburg, I realized I was going to be hard pressed to make it around the entire Ring.
My legs were aching, my pants and shoes were dirty and I was hungry. I walked into a Pizzaria and was able to order a Stromboli as well as a Taxi back to Hotel Zur Burg.
Back in the hotel I striped my dirty/sweaty clothes off and laid down for a much needed nap. I wanted to be fresh for my date…