Preparing your track car
Will your car survive the Nordschleife?
After weeks of planning, your first visit to the ‘Ring with your own car is finally happening. Not only have you booked a room in a cozy guesthouse but you have also chosen three days of driving back-to-back. All of your homework is done – you’ve watched hundreds of online laps, you know all of the secrets, you’ve learned the history, read the myths and you are familiar with the cars, the lap times and the whole circus around the Nordschleife. Now it’s about the track and you, but are you really ready? And what about your car? Is it Nürburgring-ready? What should you address first? Let’s just go through some tips that will help you to enjoy the ride and live to tell the tale!
I know it sounds obvious, but the first thing you should do is to make sure that the car is mechanically sound. Oil or coolant leaks are very dangerous for cars and can be lethal for bikers. Hoses, clamps, radiators... Check everything thoroughly so you are not that guy that closes the track for two hours.
Have a proper look at your brakes as well. By that I don’t mean that you should spend thousands of euros in huge diameter rotors or stupidly expensive brake pads. Start with decent fluid and braided lines to avoid that unpleasant spongy feel and move on to better brake pads or bigger rotors only when you need them. People tend to think the other way round, the bigger the better, the bigger the safer, the bigger the more problems removed at once. Wrong. Adding unsprung weight and more running cost to the brakes won’t fix the problems. Try to fix your own braking technique first!
Tyres are also a key point to take care of. Again, no need for the ultimate semi-slick on the market, as it will probably make you feel miserable under the (more than frequent) Nürburgring rain. This is only your first time here; keep the sticky rubber option for the moment you’ve built some pace. The track itself is not very abrasive, but if you visit the GP Track while you are here you should keep a closer eye. Last, but
not least, some people want to make the most of their ‘Ring trip by driving some Alpine roads in Switzerland or France. Make sure you know the policy on winter tires (which sometimes spans more than winter itself) so you don’t have to face unpleasant surprises...
Remember, the Nürburgring is legally a one-way toll road. You will have a hard time if you come equipped with a HANS, wheels sticking out of the car, sharp aero extensions or seats with extreme head restraints. Keep the racing stuff for racing. You should lose the stopwatch as well (believe me, it’s pointless) and consider a helmet instead.
Forget completely about the power at your disposal, as your first laps shouldn’t be about the numbers, but about finishing them safely in order to do some more. Treat the place with the respect it deserves and leave always some room for error. Before you know it you will be back, and back again, and then another time...
- Serxio Veiga, RSRNürburg Mechanic