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They Don't Make Them Like the Nurburgring Anymore

on August 2014

If you have ever dreamt of driving on a genuine racing circuit and following in the foot steps of Nikki Lauda, there truly is no place like the infamous Nurburgring. Racing enthusiasts from all over the world have been descending on the quaint village of Nurburg for years just to experience the thrill of one of the world's most legendary circuits.

If you have ever had the pleasure of experiencing it in the past, it's easy to understand why this adventure is a "must do" for any racing or automotive enthusiast. The circuit is famous for its thrills and chills as drivers must navigate the treacherous track that winds its way around the mountain town. There is indeed no other place in the world that can offer an opportunity like that.

The Nurburgring is a global destination that evokes plenty of emotion from excitement to fear and envy. It is without a doubt one of the most technically challenging tracks in the entire world. Prior to 1927, Germany did not have any permanent motor-racing circuits in spite of its reputation as a leader in vehicle design and development. The Nurburgring was born out of an idea to build a track that could be used for motor sport and for testing new car designs of automobile manufacturers.

Built to Showcase German Design & Engineering

The plan called for a long and demanding circuit that was carefully designed to expose any faults in new vehicles. What resulted was an incredible track composed of two unique courses. The Nordschleife, also referred to as the "Northern Loop," is a 14.2 mile course that was originally intended for car testing and pushing drivers to the limits. The Südschleife, also known as the "Southern Loop," runs just 4.8 miles long and was designed for testing and small races.

The Southern Loop was demolished and replaced with the Grand Prix Strecke in 1984 after the original was classified as unsafe for Formula One Racing following the famous fiery crash of Nikki Lauda in 1976. The Northern Loop retains much of the original track's design. It is the more challenging of the two courses being nicknamed the "Green Hell" by Jackie Stewart.

Both loops were originally designed to be driven as an entire course featuring four unique length variations ranging from 2.281 kilometres to the entire 28.265 kilometres. When the Nurburgring was reconstructed in the early 1980's, the start-finish zone was reconstructed with the goal of enabling it for use in international racing events. The new version of the track introduced updated safety standards which made it an overall safer course without compromising the daring roads that posed an exciting challenge to all drivers.

Experience the Thrills and the Risks of the Nurburgring

The Nurburgring is an incredibly demanding track that requires full concentration at all times. Unlike most modern racing circuits, the Nurburgring's track is quite narrow with little space outside of the bends. Rather than the traditional gravel traps that can assist to slow down a car that is out of control, the Nurburgring was limited to a few yards of grass just before a vehicle would hit the armco barrier. These short areas of grass were adequate when the Nurburgring was constructed but as cars began to travel much faster in the 1970's, it became highly apparent that they posed a risk to safety.

If a driver on the Nurburgring should find themselves in a slide losing control of their car, it is likely that the vehicle will slam into the armco barrier as there are few run-off areas. The vast majority of the bends are blind with many tightening part way through. Add in the further complexity of a circuit that is placed in a wet and mountainous region of western Germany and the real challenge of the course becomes evident quickly. Furthermore, sharing the track with drivers of varying skill levels can also pose a risk.

No Other Racing Circuit Like This Anywhere in the World

The Nordschleife of the Nurburgring is completely in a class of its own without any other course in the world coming close to what it offers. The scenic road that winds its way through the vibrant local greenery is what earned its reputation as "The Green Hell." The track is as awe-inspiring as it is feared for its demanding nature yet it never fails to impress and continues to be one of the best purpose-built motor racing circuits in the world.

Stretching 13 miles long with approximately 73 bends, the circuit sets the standards for motor vehicle performance and inspires determination from all drivers that dare to challenge it. Drivers are up to the challenge because they know that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Modern F1 circuits are built with safety at the forefront and regulations take precedence over form. In other words, the daring and dangerous track that gave the Nurburgring its fame is a thing of the past as safety threatens to undermine the concepts of great track design.

Modern Tracks are No Match for the Ring

New Formula 1 circuits being designed are coming under heavy criticism and mixed reviews. Companies that are familiar with the design and construction details of building a Formula 1 circuit know that there is limited room for deviation. But that's just what most drivers identify as the key problems. According to critics, circuits are increasingly becoming "cookie cutter" in appearance with too many elements being copied from one another during the drafting and design process resulting in boring tracks. But industry insiders are quick to point out that track designers are forced to create designs within incredibly strict safety regulations. For example, when planning new circuits, safety regulations dictate that the track width should be a minimum of 12 meters while during track width changes, transitions should be made gradually at a rate that does not exceed 1 meter in 20 meters. These regulations result in a constant repetition of approved track corners and characteristics.

Some modern designs have been dismissed as boring suggesting that many Formula One races now see a lack of overtaking and overall excitement due to the limitations and design of the track. But others argue that the modern designs are better suited to the demands of faster modern vehicles. Regardless of whether you are an advocate of modern Formula 1 race circuits and the safety regulations that accompany them, what is clear is that none compare to the Nurburgring. The thrill of the course will push you and your vehicle to the limits and the only way to experience true classic motor sport is to experience it for yourself.

- Article by Melissa Fenton

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