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Tourist rides on the Nordschleife: Ring free for a rollercoaster ride through the Eifel

Tourist rides on the Nordschleife
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D he age, they say, makes you more relaxed. When Hubert Hahne was young, he became European Touring Car Champion. Today he is 77, but there is one thing he can get upset about: “They put 350 million in the sand.” The reasons for the anger are the Nürburgring GmbH, the investors, the politicians. Business can go wrong, but not this one. 'There is no better marketable object in the whole world,' says the man who was the first to break the ten-minute sound barrier in a touring car.

Hahne is a marketing professional who came to the ring from Italy to develop new business ideas, from mountain bike rental to an ice slope. Hahne sees “100 business areas that could all bring a profit”, and he can get upset again straight away: “Everyone here always talks badly about the ring. The further away you go, the better people talk about him. ”

License plates from the Benelux countries are considered indigenous

The two men from Cornwall had a long journey with their Caterham. The rain couldn't dampen their good mood, they are on a mission: “I saw the Nürburgring races on TV as a child, and I've dreamed of driving here ever since. I'm on a pilgrimage, so to speak, ”says the tall man from the island. The two friends from Britain have swapped the 30 centimeter high blind for a half as high one and are ready.

There is a Mini Cooper from Russia in the parking lot. License plates from the Benelux countries are almost indigenous. Some people ship their 911 GT2 from Dubai to the Eifel, a Norwegian got so gripped by the ring fever after their first visit that they bought two Porsches and rented them in nearby Meuspath. Once a month he comes with Ryanair from Oslo to let off steam for a weekend.

The Nürburgring is like a vacation for lovers

Conny Fricke didn't travel that far, that's why she stayed. The vocational school teacher from Trier and her friend Andreas Otto bought a house in Adenau to be closer to the Ring. Otto actually comes from Neuss, both still work in their old home and commute every day. Conny drives 100 kilometers to work every day, she doesn't want to call it stress, she looks forward to returning every afternoon: 'I always say to my colleagues after work,that I'm going on vacation. ”

The couple has two annual tickets and spends every day off on the Nordschleife. 'I don't know of any place where you can drive so beautifully,' says Conny. Andreas adds: “You meet so many nice people.” The teacher and the chemical technician do their laps with the BMW 120i or two Suzuki 1000 GSXRs. They don't care about the best times. The greatest pleasure is a clean, flawless round without stress. On the weekends, the couple volunteer as marshals. They regularly drive the route to check that everything is in order and to protect themselves in the event of accidents.

Visitors turn 300,000 laps every year

The loudspeaker announcement comes back at the entrance that the route is closed. An Opel Astra hit the guardrail. Hundreds of thousands of euros are regularly destroyed on the weekends. A round costs 26 euros, regardless of whether it is for motorcycles or cars. 'The cars break more, but the motorcyclists cause more closings,' says Eckhard Rommel. The 49-year-old drove his first lap in 1984, and he also stayed.

The native Westphalian with 30 employees has been responsible for route management for five years. The Nürburgring is open to tourist traffic 200 days a year. The visitors turn around 300,000 laps a year, but the number is falling somewhat. The weather wasn't particularly good, admission prices rose because of the rising costs, and finally gasoline became more expensive again.

Per day a Super Plus tanker

Hans-Joachim Retterath has little of that, the Minister of Finance makes a lot of every liter. Retterath is the third generation to run the petrol station on Döttinger Höhe, which is as old as the Ring itself. When things get really buzzing at the weekend, he needs a complete Super Plus tanker during the day. The 61-year-old mourns a little about his career. He already knows how to drive a fast lap, but after a broken collarbone while driving karting, the family council voted against running. “But I'm so right in the middle of it,” he says with a laugh.
A hotel has grown next to the gas station, the gas station shop sells devotional items such as model cars and racing books. Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso and the two-time 24-hour winner Sabine Schmitz are painted in acrylic on the wall. Alonso costs 200 euros, for Schmitz you have to shell out 220. She has been famous ever since she made cult presenter Jeremy Clarkson look old in a Ford Transit on English TV show Top Gear. In everyday life she drives one of the ring taxis. You cannot book it directly, otherwise most of the guests would just want to drive with it.

One round costs 99 euros, including fuel , Briefing andInsurance

Schmitz racing partner Johannes Scheid stopped by for a jump. The 61-year-old hung up his racing helmet 'because of his shoulder'. Scheid is a legend, he has to shake a lot of hands, his shoulder can do that. Growing up only a few kilometers away, he was hopelessly addicted to the Nordschleife. The co-founder of the long-distance cup has never counted the laps in 40 years. He's grateful that the track is so much safer today. “In the past it was still said: open the hedge, close the hedge.” In winter, the frost rebuilt the route. 'Every spring you had to look for the ideal line anew,' says the Eifelaner laughing and praising the good condition the track is in now.

When the ring was built in the last century, the engineers laid the piste simply following the topography through the hilly landscape around the Nürburg. Behind Aremberg it plunges breathtakingly steeply into the depths and jumps up again just as steeply to the Adenauer Forest. The really fast cars take off at the top of the Pflanzgarten. And then there is the carousel, which even slowly pushes travelers deep into their seats. “The Americans in particular are surprised that you can simply buy a ticket here,” says Theo Kleen, who has found a niche in the market. He rents racing cars to people who don't want to stress their own car too much. A round costs 99 euros, including fuel, briefing and insurance.

In Japan, route planners have recreated famous passages on test tracks, and it was also a Japanese who virtually recreated the Nordschleife with a racing simulation called Gran Turismo so precisely that tens of millions of Playstation players do their laps in front of the screen . But it is precisely the real roller coaster feeling that makes the Nordschleife so fascinating and casts its spell over people from far away.

Hans Walther is Swiss and likes to drive fast, which doesn't get along. Despite great mountain roads, he has given up driving passes. He's already driven in Monza or Hockenheim, but he found his true home on the Nordschleife. A round and a half hour of watching at the Brünnchen was enough to infect him. He now has a Club Sport Elise and his third annual pass. He spends a dozen weekends in the Eifel during the season. Of course it costs a lot, 'but I have a very small one-room apartment and I don't go on vacation otherwise.'

Ammar Owega took it on a driver training course: 'I thought it was like driving a rally Asphalt. ”Actually, he prefers understatement, but he bought a Porsche GT3 RS,“ because you don't have to make any major changes. ”The physician has always been fascinated by motorsport, races are less common. “I was a racing doctor for ten years, and I have enough stress.” Today he is recovering at the Ring with his son Honza. You share your car and your passion: “Itis the size, the landscape, the variety. ”

Hubert Hahne also raves about it. He has already done over 20,000 laps here, but he still drives the first slowly out of respect. Hahne encourages: “You don't need 50 years to learn the ring, you need 50 laps.” But nobody says that old age makes you calm and sensible. Hahne reveals: “I enjoy the Nordschleife most in the rain.”

Facts and figures
The 20.8 kilometer Nordschleife is open to cars and Motorbikes open. Classified as a public highway, vehicles with a maximum speed of 60 km /h are allowed on the route. The rules of the StVO apply, so overtaking is only allowed on the left. Liability insurance covers damage to the guard rails. Warning: rental cars are not insured. Opening times, prices and directions can be found at www.nuerburgring.de.


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