It sounds too good to be true: a chance to drive your own car around one of the most challenging race circuits anywhere in the world. Or better still, an opportunity to challenge the likes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on the famous racecourse behind the wheel of a finely tuned rental sports car.
This is not a dream, but reality in the small German town of Nurburg, just south of Cologne. Here you will find one of the most hair-raising Grand Prix circuits ever designed which is now open to the public for special ‘driving’ weekends.
The circuit, which was originally built in the 1920s around the medieval castle of Nurburg, includes a loop which is 20.8km long with more than 300 metres of elevation change from its lowest to highest points which legendary driver Jackie Stewart named ‘The Green Hell’.
The Grand Prix track was built decades later in 1984, and was used intermittently with the circuit at Hockenheimring as the venue for the German Grand Prix, until last year. The last Formula One race at Nurburgring was won by Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
The track is now used for car testing – and also perhaps more famously for ‘Touristenfahrten’: days where anyone with a road-legal car or motorbike get the chance to master the challenging race course which Lewis Hamilton called “fantastic…one of the classics”.
On fixed dates, the Nurburgring invites fans to experience the thrill of driving on the legendary circuit where many of the rules of racing apply. For example, passing on the right is prohibited and although some sections have speeding limits most stretches are without.
But while going ridiculously fast is permitted, organisers do not allow any form of racing, including speed record attempts.
Accidents, of course, do happen, and drivers who have crashed into barriers, suffered mechanical failure or who have needed to be towed off the track are referred to as having joined the ‘Bongard Club’. Bongard is the company which sends the large yellow trucks to scoop up any misfortunate car and driver, hence the name of the notorious club.
For drivers who would rather not risk driving the circuit in their own set of wheels, Supercar Experiences can rent you a supercar in the UK for the drive over to Nurburg. These cars are finely tuned, fitted with performance tires with grip, and are, as you might well imagine, fully insured.
For more information about Nurburgring’s Touristenfahrten go to www.nuerburgring.de/en.html