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When ambition excedes ability. Why drivers FAIL at the 'Ring


What do you do in the event of an accident?

If an accident DOES occur or your vehicle becomes stranded:

  • If possible move your car to a safe position off the racing line!
  • Get yourself to the safe side of the barriers!
  • RUN into a position where you're able to warn oncoming traffic before a bad situation becomes worse!

Nice place to stop. NOT

 1) MIRRORS: Check them! If something has appeared that wasn't there before, move over to the right-hand side. Some of the worst accidents are those caused by frustrated faster traffic forcing it's way past slower traffic. I've seen Ferraris and 1000cc superbikes hit 140mph on each straight yet still hold back an 8-valve Golf.

What happens if you're doing 60mph and sweep from right to left without checking your mirrors (you collect a 185mph GSX-R1000!)

2) CORNERS: They're the bits where the track goes off at a tangent and you bounce over a frighteningly narrow strip of grass. And then embed yourself in some very expensive barrier. Playing Gran Turismo 4 or watching a thousand videos will not prepare you for your first 'Ring visit. DO NOT try and go fast. If you're going to try anything, try and be SMOOTH and CONSIDERATE. Speed is a byproduct of these two skills being applied. Speed does not occur if you twist the throttle hard, mash the pedals and wobble all over the shop

3) INSURANCE: If you're from the United Kingdom and using your UK insurance, your insurance company will be forced to cover your third party claims in the event of a claim. HOWEVER recent cases have left the Nordschleife defined as a 'prepared course' or 'race circuit' and most insurers will purse you for their costs. More information about Nürburgring insurance here.

4) The CONSEQUENCES: If you're lucky enough not to be flown to Koblenz on the helicopter, you'll be staring at your broken wreckage or your crunched-up car. DO NOT attempt to drive off. Even if you've just ran over the kerbs and kissed the barrier, you may be dropping dangerous fluids. Recovery is expensive at nearly 200 Euros a pop, but it's better than being handed the bill for three crashed motorcycles or a balled-up 911. Barrier is also very expensive. Ding it and you've bought it. The Nordschleife is a public road managed and owned by a private company. If you damage their property and walk away the Polizei will see that as CRIMINAL DAMAGE. Quite apart from the fact you'd be fleeing a traffic accident; another serious offence.

The consequences of mixing your abilities with your ambitions are rarely cheap. Especially when you rid an MV Agusta!

5) MOTORCYCLISTS: Bikes accelerate in a way that most cars can only dream of. This does not make you fast by default. The NUMBER ONE MOST DANGEROUS THING BIKES DO is hold a car up around the apex, exit, then accelerate. Several times. It's almost impossible for many cars to overtake a superbike on even half-throttle. If the car has CAUGHT YOU UP it is going faster. Trying to stay ahead of somebody gaining on you is the EASIEST WAY TO CRASH. Never ever ride beyond your abilities or comfort zone - the Nordschleife on a busy weekend is the most dangerous place to have an attack of testosterone sickness. Apart from this, the car will be just inches off your back wheel at every apex. If you're overtaking INDICATE and do so on the LEFT SIDE of the track. If you UNDERTAKE (on the right side) you are not just risking a common crash, but you'll also automatically be on the wrong side of the verdict in the event of a crash.

Honda Civic Type-R and Chevrolet Corvette 'race' a motorcycle
This guy thinks he's the bomb. But he hasn't checked his mirrors.
And he'll probably nail the throttle up the next hill.
Ad infinitum.

6) CAR DRIVERS: Motorcycles are delicate and victim to the mildest surface changes. DO NOT PUSH them into a corner, the rider feels like he's got a loaded shotgun in the back of his neck. Indicate left, flash your lights to make him aware of your presence, but DO NOT UNDERTAKE. Bikes change direction quicker than a car and also use wider lines. Conversely, CHECK YOUR MIRRORS. A frustrated biker will try for a gap that sometimes isn't even there. Better to let him past.

7) FLUID SPILLS: One of the most dangerous type of incidents on the 'ring. And for motorcyclists it can be FATAL. If you suspect you're dropping fluid of any type PULL OVER on to the grass as far from the racing line as possible. If fluid is on the tarmac STOP and warn oncoming traffic.

Here's an example of how NOT to do it. It gets real interesting real quick. The correct response is to flag oncoming traffic. Not sit and tape their crashes!

8) NOISE: Especially of interest to bikers, but this applies to car drivers as well. The official limit is 95dB, as it is for any public road in Germany. As a rule of thumb most marshals will 'let you off the hook' for anything up to 100dB. But the methods of testing vary so wildly that the only solution is to NOT rev the engine at the gates and to use exhaust cans with obvious baffles. If you're acting the fool or have a car/bike which appears unsafe, then the noise meter is just a handy way of sending you home.

Play it sensible and you're more unlikely to be tested.

Author's note: For the record, I both ride a bike and drive a car around the Nordschleife. And after ten years of riding the 'ring I can just about see both points of view.


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