Ring Visit

ringbesuch

Introduction for new visitors:

Whilst this section is to inform visitors who are thinking of visiting “The ‘Ring”, it hopefully can add to the knowledge of people who have visited many times.

There is so much to do in the area and so much to learn that even if you have been many times, things change. There are always new things to do and people to meet.

The Nürburgring is a magical place. It is very difficult to describe to people who have not been. It is also impossible to convey the size and variety of things to do locally.

There is nothing like this place in the world. You can visit the area a hundred times and learn something new and not be bored.

If you have done some track driving and think “well I have been to Brands Hatch or Silverstone a few times and I know the track and would not rush to go back”. Think again, this is nothing like visiting a “normal” racetrack.


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This is the most special track in the world.

The Nürburgring (it is a ring around the village of Nürburg) is an area in one of the most beautiful parts of Europe that happens to include a tortuous piece of tarmac designed to provide a mental testing ground for drivers, a physical test for machinery and a spectacular environment for the spectator.

There is so much else to do at The ‘Ring than track driving.

Be sure to visit during a VLN race. This is a race series based purely at The ‘Ring. It’s highlight is the 24 Hour race. It is difficult to know which is more exciting, watching the racing or watching the spectators. The 24 Hour race is really special and it is something to behold. Try to go and wander around in the crowd, especially at night. You will see the most amazing structures built to include walk in fridges, Jacuzzis, complete bars, view towers and fantastic barbeques.

Questions you wish you could ask but feel everyone knows the answers to but you….

Is it scary on the track?

Only if you do not treat it with the respect that it deserves. If you are a new visitor then you have to imagine that it is like a new road in a remote part of the country that you have just discovered. You know that it is a great road as soon as you see it but you really have no idea where it goes. Would you drive a road you have never seen before flat out and try to set a fast time? No.

But people die there all the time, my mate told me.

No they don’t. There are accidents and occasionally injuries especially amongst motorcyclists. Remember that the road is one way, so nothing is going to be coming down your favourite road towards you. In the most difficult sections of the track the barriers are relatively close to the track so although that means you may hit something if you go off it is often a glancing blow. However treat it with respect.

Talk me through how to approach the first ever lap.

Go with someone who has been before if you can. Take your time, there is no rush. Like other things in life, the first time is very special and should be savoured and enjoyed. Hang around in the entrance car park and look at the cars and bikes. Talk to people. If you are lucky or cheeky, someone will give you a ride round in their car.
For bikes we recommend that your first laps are done in a car so that you see the track and get a feel for it before going on a bike.
When you do feel that it is the right time for you, remember that this is a public road and as on any other road in Europe you pull over to the right to allow other to overtake.

USE YOUR MIRRORS.

You do not need to indicate when someone comes up behind you that is faster than you, just make it clear by your positioning that you have seen them and you are staying out of their way. If you are going round a corner on the correct line then stay there. It is up to the person behind to overtake you safely, again the same as on a public road. The vehicle overtaking will be expecting you to remain on your chosen line. Do not veer off trying to get out of their way.
At the start, only ever do one lap at a time. It is tempting to feel great and do lap after lap (you will have to pull in to the start barrier every lap anyway). Go into the car park and get out of the car and have a think. Talk to your mates. Calm down and then do another single lap. It gives you time for all that you are learning to sink in.

At the end of the day if you hear yourself saying “I will just do one more lap” Don’t. That is the lap that you will crash!
 

I have completed my first lap, can I have a sticker now?

Everyone has seen them and now it is your turn to get the sticker.
We believe that it is a matter of honour to wear the ‘Ring sticker on your car but there is some etiquette involved.
You should only put a sticker on a car that you have driven around the Nordschleife. So bad luck if you have driven a rental car, you cannot buy a sticker and take it home to put on your shopping car!

 

What about those other drivers/riders on the track?

Most people lapping who have some experience of the place will be able to spot that you are not as experienced as they are. They will treat you with respect and give you time and space. There are lots of places to pass and people will wait until overtaking is safe, as on a public road.

Why is it a public road?

Because it was built that way. It is a one direction derestricted toll road that the public can pay to use and the operators can close to the public and rent to car manufacturers or driver training organisations. A huge number of questions can be answered simply by asking yourself “would this be legal on a public road where I come from?”
Being a public toll road, anyone can “pay and play”. This means you will come across motorhomes, vans, estate cars, in fact most everything that is on the road. This does include rescue and recovery vehicles who might be pulling over to collect a broken down car. As you would at home, treat them with respect.

How busy does it get?

It can get very busy. Sunny summer Sundays from 11am to 3pm can be a trial and if there is an accident that requires a time consuming recovery, then they will close the track until the track is safe. So plan around that knowledge. Get there early. Don’t get despondent that it is busy, just be patient and wait. Use the busiest part of the day to walk and talk. It is amazing how quickly the car park clears as people leave to go home, often leaving 2 or 3 hours before the track closes. Also you might think it is busy in the entrance car park but out on the track it is surprisingly quiet. It is a very big circuit. Remember that in the German race series based there (VLN) they have 220 cars in one race!

When is the track open for public lapping?

The best way to find out is to check. In general it is open most afternoons during the week in the summer and sometimes all day on Saturday and more often on Sundays. There are many places to check prior to visiting, but the official site for the whole area can be found here:
http://www.nuerburgring.de/en/events-dates-nuerburgring.html.
Look for the word “Touristenfahrten”. Loosely means “visitor laps”. These open times can vary especially if you are planning a trip months in advance. But do not worry the operators of The ‘Ring do very well from public lapping so will always do their best to stick to calendars. Things like race meeting dates are set at least a year in advance, so it is unlikely that you would turn up and find that the calendar has been massively changed.
Don’t restrict yourself to the summer. The area has some brilliant weather which you can check online. You can have stunning, quiet lapping in January/February with bright sunshine and perfect conditions.

How long does it take to learn?

That is like asking “how long does it take to learn French?”. Of course it is different for everyone. This is a general indication of what many people have said about learning the track.
1-10 laps – you will have no idea what is coming next. You will be confused about whether a corner is going left or right. Approach all corners with this knowledge and drive accordingly.
11-25 laps – you will have visited 2 or 3 times now and therefore it is sinking in. Corners and small sections become familiar. You are pretty sure that you know where you are and what is coming next. “Pretty sure” is not good enough. You might think that next corner is flat out but equally it might not be!
26-50 laps – you are hooked and should now be stringing together sections that naturally can be grouped together. You know some of the names of the corners and sections and will be looking at your lines and thinking that you know the place.
50+ laps – what you know now is up to you and your ability. Most people say that it takes a minimum of 100 laps to “know the track”. Maybe this is true if for every visit you had perfect weather but as the weather changes the track changes.
Try to visit in the same car or on the bike you know well, so that you know how it was behaving the last time you were there. It can be a shock to learn a little of the track and then go in different car and find that you have to drive/ride very differently.

But I have done a hundred laps on my Playstation, it won’t take me that long to learn.

Maybe you have and maybe that will help give you an idea of what to expect but the people we speak to who “know” the track from a Playstation are shocked at how different it is when they arrive. Just regard the knowledge as useful rather than helpful and don’t rely on what you think is coming around the next corner.

What about the weather?

It changes a lot! Over the seasons there can be lots of snow in the winter and lots of sun in the summer. It is a beautiful place, but it can be very changeable. It can change from day to day and it can change quickly around the track. There are huge elevation changes around the track (almost 1000ft) so on those days which are obviously changeable, watch out for sudden fogs and rain on an otherwise dry track. In general if the weather is good it will stay that way during the day, if it is a windy, day with occasion rain, then expect everything and you won’t be surprised.

I am going with a mate who has the same car/bike, I bet I am faster!

Whatever you do, don’t race. Don’t even drive/ride together. Do some lapping and compare notes. If you want to show off then describe to each other the corners and see who can recall the most about the track.

Driver training?

An excellent idea. Not cheap but well worth the investment. There are lots and lots of places who offer driver training, either in your car or a school car. There are some useful links here.
http://www.rsrnurburg.com/
http://www.fahrer-training.de/
http://www.rent-racecar.de/
http://www.autegmotorsport.com/
http://www.rent4ring.de/

What about my car/bike?

Remember it is a public road, so you do not even need to ask questions like “can I run on slicks?” or “can I use an open exhaust?”
Any car/bike is suitable. You will see red hot local Minis with Honda Vtec engines in and you will see 7 series BMWs, Harleys and Hayabusas and everything in between. However even the inexperienced will be driving much harder than is ever possible on a normal public road.

Take precautions
The advice here is principally for car drivers. For bikes we recommend that your first laps are done in a car.

Prior to the start of your trip:
Have the brakes checked for the amount of pad material left. You can use a lot of material if you are there for a few days.
Check the underside of the car for leaks.
Change the oil. The engine will see high oil temperatures when lapping and a dose of new oil will only help.
Have a really good look at the tyres. Not pressures but the sidewalls. Inside sidewall as well. Look all around the tread for cracks, nicks and nails.
Give the car a thorough check over. Wipers, fluids, seat belts, spare wheel etc.
Bring some tools with you. Here are some ideas:

A tarpaulin to cover up things you may leave in the car park and to lay on if you need to work on your car.
Make sure you have the jack and tools to remove the wheels. Make sure it works.
Engine oil. Your car might never use a drop of oil but at the track it is amazing how many cars breath a bit of oil out.
Brake fluid
Rags
Pliers
Hammer
Tank tape
Socket set
Bulbs
Tow rope
At The ‘Ring:
Check tyre pressures again and as a general rule increase them by 0.5bar over the recommended settings. Check them again during the day. Watch out for a tyre that is losing pressure. It is easy to have a small screw that the head has worn off. On the road this might last for a month but at the track it might cause a proper blow out.
Clear your car out of movable objects. That Red Bull tin that has been on the back seat for a month becomes a killer as it rolls forward, under your seat and straight under the brake pedal as you are entering the first braking area on your first lap.
When you get to the car park area at the track entrance you can unload luggage, tools and spare wheel. Of course we cannot say that everything will be perfectly safe, but you are surrounded by like minded people who are not there to pinch other people’s spare wheels. Use the tarpaulin to cover everything.

Do I need to wear a seat belt?

Of course you do.

Do I need to wear a helmet?

If you are on a bike, of course. If you are in a car then it is up to you. You are travelling three or four times as fast as you would normally on a road like this in your area and there are cars and bikes all around you. The track is lined with Armco and behind that are very big trees. Think about it.

How do I get to The Nürburgring?

Of course it depends on where you come from and how you are travelling.
If you are coming by car then there are hundreds of ways to plan your journey. For the Hotel you should aim for Breidscheid or the local town of Adenau. For the main entrance then head for Nürburg. Whatever you do, do not go to Nürnberg (Nuremberg) which is 400kms to the South East! It has been done before.
If you are flying in then you can fly to Frankfurt/Hahn or to Köln/Bonn airport. It is possible to rent a car from either airport.
There are some excellent travel directions and advice here:
http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/directions/index.html

How do I get on the track?

The main start for tourist lapping is halfway along the main straight.

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It is not where the main grandstands are located but inside the circuit. If you are travelling along the 268 and come across the huge grandstands on your left then continue past all of these. 100 metres after the main complex you will take a left turn signed to Nurburg. Follow this for 1.5kms and you will see the start complex and café at a roundabout on the right. If in doubt, head for Nurburg and go away from where you think the circuit is located.
However, at the Hotel an der Nordschleife we have own own “secret” entrance 20 metres from the hotel.
This has become know as the bikers entrance and it is perfect for bikes but very suitable for cars. It is located here:

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The advantages of this entrance are that it is close to the Hotel and that the area is so much nicer that at the main start. There are three cafes at this start and within 100 metres, there is a petrol station, 3 supermarkets, a cycle shop an Italian Restaurant and a bar.

How do I buy track time?

You buy laps rather than track time. In 2009 the prices are:

Single lap €22
4-lap ticket €75
8-lap ticket €145
15-lap ticket €250
25-lap ticket €390

To buy laps go to the white ticket booth with cash or credit card and they will put the number of laps you require in a Ring Card. (see below).
These laps last until the end of December and cannot be carried over if unused.
There is an unlimited use card called a Jahreskarte (Year pass) which costs €1,075 and this makes sense if you are likely to do more than 66 laps in one year. It finishes at the end of December each year and nothing is carried over. The procedure for getting one is to go to the ticket booth at the tourist lapping start (preferably when it is not busy) with a passport sized photo of yourself. They will then make an identity card for you and give you a transponder which you use to get through the start barrier. The transponder is designed to attach to your wrist and will activate the barrier. It is not transferable to your mate. Do not try you will get caught and banned.

What is a ring card?

http://www.nuerburgring.de/en/info/nuerburgring-card.html
This a new idea for 2009. It has two separate functions and it is a little confusing.
One: When you buy laps at the ticket booth you will be given a Ring Card with the correct number of laps on. This you present at the start barrier to get on to the track. (more below). The laps you buy last until the end of December and cannot be carried over if unused. Of course they can be topped up on this card when you run out.

Two: It is a sort of “credit” card for the area. “Credit” meaning that you deposit “credit” onto it, i.e. cash. Then with this card you can go into the café at the main start called the “Devil’s Diner”. The weird (stupid?) thing is that you cannot buy a coffee in the “Devil’s Diner” without this card. So you have to give someone some cash to get a card which you then give to the café where they take money from the card and give you a coffee.

The theory is that you can then use this card in the major attractions that are building and in the Nürburgring Casino, hotels and restaurants.
However although you might have just given Nürburgring Ltd €390 for laps you cannot buy a coffee unless you add another €5 to the credit. Bizarre.
On the subject of the “Devils Diner”. It is the main café that everyone visits. It is the heart of the tourist lapping experience at the greatest track in the world with some of the most evocative history. It is a replica 1950’s America burger bar. Need we say more?

What do I do if I see an accident?

It is a good idea to keep the emergency number for the Nordschleife in your cell phone: 08000 302-112.
If you are first on the scene then stop. Give some thought about where you are stopping, you don’t want to become part of the same accident.
Take care if you are getting out of the car or walking on the track to help someone, the track is open and maybe someone will come steaming round the corner behind you and not see the accident. There are TV cameras around the track and there are usually a lot of spectators so if you can’t phone, then someone will have reported the accident. If it is a bad accident then it is probably best to do nothing unless you are qualifies to do so. What you can do best is to warn other ringers. Go towards the traffic and wave people to slow down. Be careful.
If it is your accident and you are OK, then stay with your vehicle and wait for help, it will come. Even if you think your car is drivable do not move. If you have damaged the track then you will be found. Walk towards the traffic and wave people to slow especially if your car or bike is in a precarious position.

What about the horror stories of the cost of an accident at The ‘Ring?

Well it’s true and it’s not. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. If you inflict damage to the track then you have to pay to have that damage repaired. Think about it. You would not want to slide off the track to find that you are heading for a piece of ripped up Armco barrier. You want to hit a nice new bit! You will be asked to pay for damage that you have caused. This might be up to several hundred Euros. There are stories of drivers being charged for closed track time but we have never known this to be true. Maybe in extreme cases but like anything in life there are risks attached. Know the risks and know your limitations and you will be fine.

‘Ring insurance

Remember that The ‘Ring is a public road and therefore you need to have insurance. It varies from country to country but generally German insurance is operational at The ‘Ring during tourist lapping. It is best to check with your insurance company before travelling about their policy on ‘Ring lapping. There are specialist companies that will offer specific insurance.
Maybe best to seek information on one of the many forums available:
http://s8.invisionfree.com/Northloop/
ttp://forum.nurburgring.org.uk
http://bridgetogantry.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=26
There is an excellent piece here:
http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/insurance.html
and
http://www.leeds-solicitors.com/nurburgring_insurance.html.

Timing my stunning laps

There are several reasons why this is not a good idea, especially for the inexperienced.

1/ It is forbidden by the track owners and they will stop you and confiscate equipment.
2/ It is distracting
3/ It provides an obvious target for you or your mates to beat. A fairly obvious cause of accidents.
4/ Publishing those times could invalidate any insurance you might have because it turns the event into a “timed race” which all insurance companies specifically exclude.
5/ You will invariably be much slower than you think!

Filming my stunning laps

There is a blanket ban on filming. You will get caught and you will get banned. People do it but be sure you don’t publish it.

There is a rumour about being caught speeding on the track.

Yes, we have heard that. There are in fact speed limits at the exit from the track at the main entrance and Breidscheid and also after leaving the main tourist entrance. Temporary speed limits may be enforced at the scene of an accident. We have never heard of anyone being prosecuted. Use common sense and you will be fine.
However…
If you speed in the local area then you will be caught and fined heavily. Over €500 is not uncommon. The track is the place for speed and skill and not the villages around Nurburg. The locals have seen every fast car and bike known to man or beast and will not be impressed by you flying through their village.

Partners, what is there to do on tourist lapping days?

Talk!
If you partner loves cars then this is no problem. Wander round the car park and talk. Everyone is super friendly. If you are plucky then ask for a passenger lap. Be sure to take your partner out and don’t show off or frighten them. Yes it is perfectly acceptable to take pillions as well.
Watching the lapping is brilliant. You do not have to pay and you can get right to the edge of the circuit. There are some brilliant walks as well as a mountain bike route around the track. This takes in some brilliant scenery and gives very varied perspective on the circuit.
If they are not a car fan then don’t worry. See the later section.
If all else fails then you have the “Devil’s Diner”!!

Petrol at the track

Do not run out of petrol whilst on the track. Remember that a car which can do 30+mpg on the road will be doing about 12-15 on the track, plus the fact that the hard cornering will often make a car feel like it is running out of fuel (fuel surge), way before the tank is empty.

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There is no track based fuel but the two closest fuel stops are here near the main entrance about 1.5 kms along the 258 towards Mayen. This station also has the most amazing model car shop. A must visit but it gets very busy.
Very close to the Breidscheid entrance and the Hotel here is an Aral station.

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Why it referred to as “The Green Hell”?

That is Jackie Stewart’s name for the track. When it was used for Formula One racing it was almost a country lane. The track was lined with trees rather than Armco! Jackie Stewart really campaigned for improved safety at F1 tracks across the world and 1976 saw the last ever race here after it was deemed impossible to bring the track up to the safety standards needed. At the final race it was ironic that Niki Lauda was alone in trying to organise a boycott of the race. On Lap 2 he nearly lost his life in a fiery accident shortly after Breidscheid Bridge.

How do I learn the names of all the corners?

It just takes time. It is difficult enough trying to distinguish all of the 73 corners without trying to remember their names. The important ones will come to you quickly and the rest will simply take time.
This is a good map which will help you.
http://www.ringtrip.co.uk/TheRing/Map/tabid/68/Default.aspx
http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/bendnames/index.html

Will I see Sabine?

The Sabine Schmitz factor. Top Gear hero. It is unlikely that you will see her. She does sometimes still do the ‘Ring Taxi for BMW but other than that she usually races for some of the major teams in the VLN series.
http://bmw-motorsport.com/ms/ringtaxi.html