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The worst possible Nürburgring advice...


Internet forums can be the best and worst of experiences. They put likeminded people together and can produce everything from hilarity to hysteria. What never ceases to amazes me are the number of 'experts' on every forum... if you think you've spotted yourself in the following collection of Nurburgring myths, do yourself a favour. For once in your life, don't click 'Reply'...

  1. "The Nürburgring is open to the public every day, you just drive on"
  2. "The track is open all year round"
  3. "There are no speed limits!"
  4. "You don't need insurance if you can pay for the crash damage"
  5. "If your UK insurance company doesn't mention the Nürburgring or 'unrestricted one-way toll roads' then you're automatically covered."
  6. "I'm going to the Nuremburgring in Nuremberg!"
  7. "You can learn the course on Forza, GranTurismo, rFactor, GPL, SuperSprint, Vroom, SuperMarioKart"
  8. "You should rent a fast car"

"The Nürburgring is open every day, you just drive on"

Firstly, I'll deal with the "open every day" statement. I live in Adenau, I work in Nürburg. My daily commute takes me right over the roundabout that is the entrance to the old Nordschleife. And what do I see, every other day? At least one car, awkwardly parked in the junction, a puzzled face looking at the opening times. Like, if they stare long enough the red glowing letters will disappear, reappear and announce the track as open RIGHT NOW. Also it feels like 50% of the enquiries I deal with from work are from people who have never even checked the public opening times. (do that here)

While strictly speaking the track is indeed open everyday (except winter, more on that later) it's not open to the public everyday. Apart from our hallowed Sunday services, public sessions are what happens when nobody else has paid vast amounts of cash up front for the circuit.

Typically the track is open to the public most weekday nights and all day Sunday. A lot of public holidays have full days of touristenfahrten too. Just check BEFORE you set off. Opening times can often change without warning. Despite promises to the contrary, the management have often cancelled 'small' public sessions in favour of important manufacturers or testers at very short notice.

Secondly, you do NOT 'just drive on'. There is the small matter of buying your ticket. I have seen ticket prices quoted as being anything from £10 to $10 or even 'fifteen bucks'. This is not the case. The tickets in 2012 are €26 each. That's £22 or $36 US! FIRST you park in the car park, THEN you buy a ticket and ONLY THEN can you approach the barriers...

Another variation of the above is:
"The track is open all year round"
It is certainly true that the track is advertised as being open every day of December and January, but it is almost certainly not the case in real life. You see, winter in the Eifel can be mild or it can be vicious. I have seen temperatures as low as -26ºCelsius (-15ºF) and snow higher than my wing mirrors. Of course, I've also seen sunny days in January and done a trackday in February. You MUST check the weather before you set off.

Never travel several thousand miles and presume that the track will be open the exact day that you've planned it, regardless of season. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for you, PLEASE open up that schedule a little. A couple of days is twice as good as one. One full day can be wiped out by fog, or a serious accident on any day of the year. A second day gives you a second chance to live the dream that is driving the 'Ring.

"There are no speed limits!"
Sorry to be a spoilsport, but there are speedlimits. I've spoken to several 'ringers who have claimed to be coming here years who had LITERALLY NO IDEA there was a 50kph speed limit on the Breidscheid Bridge (because of the entrance and exit!). Or a speed limit on the back straight. You know, just before you have to join a traffic jam or park the very hot car?

"You don't need insurance if you can pay for the crash damage"
This has to be the worst advice I've ever seen posted in a forum. The number of folks driving in a public session with literally no idea it's a public road is scary. Over the years I've lost count of the number of race cars and race bikes I've seen go through the gates. Trailers arrive, race cars are dropped off. Bikes are taken out of vans with no headlights, no brakelights and no mirrors. More than 75% of them don't make it past the marshalls, but some do.

Crashing your own car or bike is maybe costly, maybe not. It depends on what you ride or drive. But do you know how big the bill can be for everybody else's damage? I've seen several incidents this year costing over €150,000 each in other people's damages and circuit damages. Add in a biker with no leg and a polizei report saying it's all your fault... it scares me witless. Well, not actually witless, but the word I was thinking of sounds a lot like witless. And remember it's all processed in the same way as a public road - BECAUSE that's how the Nordschleife operates on tourist sessions! Tell me you don't indeed insurance now...

"If your UK insurance company doesn't mention the Nürburgring or 'unrestricted one-way toll roads' then you're automatically covered."
No, no, no. Check AGT's law page here, but basically the Nürburgring Nordschleife is a prepared course in the eyes of your insurance company and their governing body. Add that to the horrible phrase about "right to recover costs" and you have a nightmare scenario. If the insurance company have to pay out, they'll pursue you personally for whatever they shelled out on your behalf.

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"You should totally go to the Nuremburgring in Nuremberg!"
This is my pet hate, and often people think I'm being overly pedantic when I correct this everytime I see it. Sometimes it's written on the internet or just spoken down the bar.

But seriously! PEOPLE!

The Nürburgring is in NÜRBURG. Not Nuremberg or Nürnberg. EVERY YEAR I deal with customers who are four-hours away from the Nürburgring. I have seen lifelong dreams dashed against the rocks several times and it absolutely breaks my heart every time. If you see it written as Nuremburgring PLEASE correct it, make it known that dozens of people end up on the wrong side of a very large country through this simple error.

People book tickets, get in the taxi at Frankfurt and ask to be taken to Nuremburg. It happens every week, and it can be prevented.

"You can learn the course on Forza/GranTurismo/rFactor/GPL/SuperSprint/Vroom/SuperMarioKart"

While playing computer games featuring the course can really help you, don't for a second believe it will make you really quick on your first lap. Some of the worst accidents I've witnessed in the last few years have been the direct result of a computer game fan going way too fast on their first lap. Most people appreciate that learning a virtual track does not automatically make you Uwe Alzen. But some others can't be helped. I actually wrote a couple of columns about this very subject here and here.

"You should rent a fast car"

People who know me, also know I work for Rent4Ring. We do hire out some awesomely fast nurburgring rentals. But for the most part we hire out Suzuki Swifts. They're still properly fast in the right hands, but they only have 125 to 136 horsepower. On your first lap of the 'Ring you could pilot a golf buggy. Or a disability carriage. It will still blow you away. I can think of two things that are at least ten times worse than getting to a straight-away and thinking, "Damn, I wish I had more power". One is crashing your rental with a €75,000 excess on your first lap of the day. The other is being overtaken by somebody driving a Swift on their first lap, and knowing they only spent 10% of what you spent, and they're having 1000% more fun...

Please do me a favour and 'like' this page, or tweet it, or something... and maybe this place might just run a little bit smoother. Remember to also check out the BTG Facebook page for more examples of 'bad advice' other BTG'ers have witnessed. If you don't laugh, you'll cry..."


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