The history of the Nurburgring
Image: Juriën Minke, 2012
For scores of automotive enthusiasts, there's plenty of magic, tradition and lore surrounding the famous Nürburgring track. It is well known for being one of the most famous tracks in the world as well as the longest, at approximately 12.8 miles. It is also one of the most complex tracks, thanks to more than 73 corners, numerous elevation changes and a variety of conditions that conspired in the past to give it its nickname of ""the Green Hell."
This track is well known for being the nexus of automobile performance testing and it's also where countless performance cars, from the Nissan GT-R to the Chevy Corvette ZR1, go the distance to achieve the lowest lap times possible in both stock and modified forms. Open to the public, the Nürburgring is a popular destination for people of all walks of life to try their hand at conquering a world-renowned circuit.
The Nürburgring came about from a desire to relocate car races from dangerous public roads to a safer dedicated track nestled in the mountains of Nürburg. Designed by an architectural consortium led by Gustav Eichler, the Nürburgring came into fruition during the mid-1920s. Construction finally finished in early 1927, with the first races following months later. The first German Grand Prix took place in July of 1927, with countless races to follow.
The track was originally built in two distinct sections: the famous Nordschleife and the lesser-known Südschleife. The Südschleife was used mainly for motorcycle races and other minor events. Combined, the Nürburgring featured over 17.56 miles of track with 174 corners, a formidable track for any racing driver. The full circuit was used for major racing events until 1939, when Grand Prix events were relegated to the Nordschleife for the foreseeable future.
Nürburgring's Glory Years
After World War II, the Nordschleife became the focus of many major racing events in Nürburgring history. The 1950s saw the return of German Grand Prix racing at the Nordschleife. By the next decade, Phil Hill would become the first driver to lap the circuit in less than 9 minutes during practice runs for the 1961 German Grand Prix. Other events held at the track included the ADAC 1000km Nürburgring endurance race and the 24 Hours Nürburgring touring car race.
Unfortunately, Nürburgring also proved to be a very dangerous circuit for many racing drivers. After Niki Lauda's disastrous and life-threatening crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, the event was moved to the Hockenheimring the next year, along with the motorcycle Grand Prix three years later.
Today's Nürburgring is a much-changed place, thanks to a complex array of safety improvements made throughout the past decades. The Südschleife portion was abandoned in 1973; since then, much of the former track has been converted into public roads and parking areas for the Nordschleife portion. The majority of professional racing events are held at the GP-Strecke circuit, built in 1984 from the partial remains of the Südschleife's northern end, to Formula 1 standards.
Ever since its creation, the Nürburgring has always been open to the public as a one-way toll road. Whenever the track isn't being used for vehicle testing, training or racing events, tourists and auto enthusiasts can drive the Nordschleife in almost any road-legal vehicle or on a motorcycle for a per-lap fee or a yearly pass with unlimited laps. Since the Nürburgring is a public road, it's patrolled as such by authorities, with fines and other penalties assessed for violating German road laws while on the track.
Steeped in history as one of the world's premier circuits, the Nürburgring offers an easy opportunity for ordinary drivers to experience the thrill that so many professional racers felt throughout the decades. Those interested in learning more about the hallowed circuit can check СlassicСar.com for more detailed information.