The Canadian International Auto Show is this weekend and I am excited to see some beautiful, fast machines on display. You see, I have a long-held, not-so-secret desire to be a tame racing driver. So what better Daydream Destination this week than the Nürburgring?
Perhaps some of you already know what a magical place this is and are salivating (or shaking in your boots?). For those who have only heard of it in passing, perhaps on a car commercial, or haven't heard of it at all, join me. I think just about anyone with a pulse could have fun here.
First of all, it is a race track located, fittingly, in Nürburg, Germany. The Nordschleife, or Northern Loop, is about 13 miles and 73 turns (officially, at least) of twisting, tree-lined, mountain-hugging tarmac encircling the Tower of Nürburg Castle. Originally built in the mid-1920s to be the toughest racing circuit and test track in the world, former F1 racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart once nicknamed it The Green Hell. Today it is also, amazingly, open to the public as a "one-way toll road" with few speed limitations.
Oh yes. You can conquer this beast yourself in a car or on a
crotchrocket motorcycle for a fairly reasonable fee of €24.00 for 1 lap or €89.00 for 4 laps. More information about costs, extras, legal information, and schedules are at the official Nürburgring site.
And no. I have not been. But I want to. I really, really, really want to. It is officially and firmly on my life's "Will-Do" list.
Here's the thing, though. At this point in my life, I'd be stupid to pay my €24.00 and go for a drive. There are myriad reasons but the top ones are:
- I can't drive a manual. (I know. I know. Really, this is a very, very sore spot for me. I can't unleash my inner Stig until I someone teaches me.)
- I'm not too keen on driving whatever sad budget car I would be able rent for my vacation on the Ring.
It would be utter embarrassment at best and fiery death at worst.
I can see myself now, on the grass, waiting for a tow. Nearby, a tiny automatic car is on its side in a cloud of smoke. Jeremy Clarkson's mocking voice in my head is saying, "That's not gone well."
So, first you have to ask yourself if you will have a car worthy of the Ring. If not, fear not. There are other exhilarating options.
If you have the figurative cojones, driving chops, and money but don't want to mess with your vacation rental, then you can rent a car worthy of the Ring. How about a Porsche 997 GT3RS for a measly €1499? Or a Lotus Exige S for a more reasonable €249? There are even more options starting around €99 for 2 hours at RentRaceCar.de or Rent4Ring.de that come recommended via this excellent and very informative Nürburgring site.
But what if you don't have the money or the racing chops? Again, fear not! You can get a Ring Taxi.
Between March and November and for what I think is a really reasonable price of €195, a Ring Specialist will drive you and two of your friends around the Ring in a BMW M5. If you're lucky, your driver with be the Ring Specialist and all-around badass, Sabine Schmitz.
So there you have it. Three great options for experiencing what is often called the best track in the world. If you're still not satisfied, always watch a race or even run the darn thing in an obstacle race.
I think I would go for the Ring Taxi. I want to go fast and fearlessly around that track and I'm certainly not able to do that on my own, yet.
If money were no object, though, and I had the skill, I'd order a Porsche GT3 RS and pick it up in Stuttgart. Then, I would break it in with a little driving tour of Germany and end up with a few laps around the Nürburgring before shipping it home to a big garage. Seems like a nice little German vacation to me.
What about you? Would you drive the Ring? What would be your car of choice if money were no object?