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Rollcages and bucket seats banned from the 'Ring?


(PDF file to download from here)

It sounds pretty crazy, but if you read the new AGBs released by the Nordschleife's new management that's exactly what it looks like. No rollcages and no buckets seats on the Nürburgring Nordschleife during touristenfahrten (or public driving).

words2Needless to say, this news (which first took form as this public facebook post) has set both the German and English Nürburgring forums on fire. So let's take a closer look at the details...

Bucket seats:
Note the use of the word "full". It's believed that the true meaning of this statement is aimed at 'wrap-around' seats with neck restraints, the type you'd see in top-end GT cars. These restrict head movement and totally prevent over-the-shoulder checks before you change lanes. REMEMBER the Nordschleife during public sessions is a normal road. You cannot drive it like a race, only looking forward. When traffic approaches you from behind you have to yield and move over to the right. It's not a race. You can't just keep looking forward and hope that nobody tries to overtake.

Steering wheels:
Pretty simple, this one. If your car is so modified that you can't ingress or egress without removing the wheel, it's probably missing the point of TF. Add in fears of accident from knock-off eBay momo-replicas and this rule has appeared. I know of at least one accident caused by a steering wheel coming off, and it's why Rent4Ring's Caterham R300 Superlight nurburgring rental car has the fixed Momo instead of the normal removable item.

HANS Devices:

If you're at the level of driving where you're worried about 150mph roll-overs then, once again, you're missing the point of public driving. You're on track with regular family cars, busses and motorcycles. If you're driving that fast, shouldn't you be worried about the kids in the back seat of the car you might hit? I'm exaggerating a little, but that's what public driving is about. I suspect the official line will be about visibility - you can't turn your head properly in a HANS and that's bad for visibility.

Unpadded cages have never been allowed at the 'Ring in my recent memory. That why Schug sells out of 42mm pipe insulation every Spring. No sharp bits, no unpadded metal. Simple. But the rumour mill is adding another 'rule' to the list. No restrictive door bars. Actually, they're saying no door bars higher than the steering wheel. Seems odd, but here's what I think...

The powers-that-be don't want race cars practicing in public driving.
bmw race car crash nurburgring

One look at the Doctor Doctor incident above will tell you why they're afraid of that. As much as we love going fast, the Nürburgring Nordschleife in public driving is for everybody. Camper vans, family cars, motorcycles, SUVs and anything else that can manage the 50kmh minimum speed.

While throwing a race-prepped saloon car into the middle of that is maybe no worse than a well-driven supercar, sometimes it's not just the equipment that's incompatible with the public driving spirit. It's the race driver attitude that's the problem (overtaking both sides, not checking mirrors, limping leaking cars back to the 'pits' instead of stopping). But whilever the management shun away from briefings or meaningful safety messages, they'll try to control these situations with simple rules like those above.

And what if you break those rules? That'll be a €250 fine, apparently. Yes, those rules include drifting, wrong-side overtaking etc... etc... here's to an exciting and interesting 2013!


 Public driving is public driving. It's not cheap race practice. It's not even a trackday. It's the Nürburgring Nordschleife open to the public...


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