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Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife A Guide For Motorheads

NURBURGRING – A BRIEF HISTORY

The original 27-mile long Nurburgring racetrack was completed in 1927 and immediately became famous (some might say infamous) around the world. Over time various changes were made to the circuit but it always remained challenging and very long. However, as the decades past, safety became more and more of an issue for riders and drivers.

The lack of run-off areas and bumpy, uneven corners were just two concerns that were raised. Jackie Stewart is famed for calling the circuit “The Green Hell”, a reference to its scenic location and dangerous and demanding nature. Growing concerns finally reached their peak after Niki Lauda’s horrific crash in 1976 when he was severely burned during a Formula 1 race. This resulted in the end of Formula 1 races at the old circuit, but the German motorcycle Grand Prix continued to be held there until 1980, when that too was finally withdrawn for safety reasons. Changes needed to be made.

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A completely new 3.2-mile long racetrack was constructed, and eventually opened in 1984. This new circuit marked the return of Grand Prix racing to the Nurburgring.

The 13-mile long Nurburgring-Nordschleife (North Loop) was formed when the old track was split up. The Nordschleife still occasionally hosts competitive motor sport, such as touring car racing, but top-level events are now reserved for the new circuit. Vehicle manufacturers, including BMW and Porsche, hire the Nordschleife for testing. Motorcycle and car clubs can also hire the circuit. It is probably most famous for public access sessions, known as ‘Touristenfahrten’ (Tourist Driving).

THE BASICS

If you want to experience the thrill of riding the Nordschleife yourself, there’s some essential information that will make the whole adventure more enjoyable. First of all, check the Nordschleife opening times before planning your trip. The last thing you want to do is turn up to find you’ve wasted your time and money. Opening times can be found on the Nurburgring’s own website (www.nuerburgring.de). Times can vary and on some days the circuit is completely closed, so beware.

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The Nurburgring is approximately 55 miles south of Cologne (Koln) and 100 miles west of Frankfurt. The nearest large city is Koblenz (about 40 miles away). The A61, A1 and A48 autobahns all pass within 15 miles or so of the track. Alternatively you may want to take the scenic route. The Nurburgring lies in the heart of the Eifel region, well known for great scenery and fantastic biking roads.

Google Maps, or something similar, is ideal for helping with your route plan. While you’re doing that you can zoom in on the Nurburgring complex and see the layout. Although the Nurburgring is well sign posted and isn’t that difficult to find, the whole complex covers a large area. The whereabouts of the Nordschleife entrance isn’t always obvious. The location of the entrance is on the L93 road, at the following GPS co-ordinates: 50.34667 N 6.96583 E. You can type these co-ordinates into Google Maps to see exactly where it is, or load them on your own satellite navigation system, if you have one. There are several free viewing areas at the trackside.

One of the more popular is at the Brunnchen bend on the B412 road, GPS location: 50.37028 N 7.00833 E. At Brunnchen there’s a large un-surfaced parking area, but few other comforts. Another interesting viewing area is at the Breidscheid bend on the B257 road, GPS location: 50.37694 N 6.95028 E. At Breidscheid there’s a bridge that takes the circuit over the B257, the viewing area is next to this bridge (you walk up a flight of stairs to reach the track). Parking is available at a cafe about 100 yards away.

If you need to top up with fuel there are several petrol stations in the local area that also sell a range of Nurburgring souvenirs.

RIDING THE CIRCUIT & SAFETY INFORMATION

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The Nurburgring-Nordschleife is a demanding 13-mile long circuit. Officially the track has 73 bends. Some of these bends are ‘blind’ and some have an uneven or bumpy road surface. Enjoy the Nurburgring experience, but please ensure you and your motorcycle come away in one piece.

My advice for first-timers is to think of the circuit as a fast road ride and not a racetrack!

The Nordschleife is classed as a one-way public toll road without speed limits (except on approach to the entrance and exit). Officially vehicles must be 100% road legal and normal German road traffic law applies. Take your vehicle’s documents, Driving License and Passport. You probably won’t be asked to produce these documents, but it’s a legal requirement to carry them when riding in Germany, even on normal public roads.

You must wear full protective clothing (not necessarily leather). Suitable boots, gloves and jackets designed for motorcycle use will be fine (no jeans, t-shirts or trainers). Wear a crash helmet that has a visor or a crash helmet with goggles.

Your motorcycle must be road worthy and have rear view mirrors on both sides. Also make sure your tyres are in good condition and have plenty of tread left (if you’re a hard rider, and do several 13-mile long laps, you could end up with no rubber for your return journey). Slick tires are forbidden.

In the event of an accident anyone involved, and any witnesses, must stop to offer assistance. Call the Nurburgring-Nordschleife emergency telephone number. If you’re found to be at fault in an accident, prosecutions and fines may follow. You may also be liable for any costs incurred for track repairs and track closures.

Anyone found not complying with the Nurburgring-Nordschleife rules can be banned from riding on the track.

 

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