View Full Version : The Nürburgring: trip planning tips & general advice

05-01-09, 20:19
As I'm not going this year :cry: but I wrote a fair bit for previous trips that is still useful IMHO, I figured I'd post it up in here in case it can be of help to anyone.

I've been 3 times in all (2006, 2007 & 2008) and probably completed about 50 laps (plus hundreds on Forza ;)) so I'm no world expert but feel I know a fair bit so if I can be of help offering advice and answering questions I am happy to do so; just post up any queries in this thread. :thumbs:

OK here goes...

Background & Further Info

The Nürburgring, or to give it's full name, the Nürburgring Nordschleife is a 13 mile, one-way mountain road occasionally still used for motor racing but due to the lack of run-off, most of the time it's a toll road that is open to the public or being hired privately for testing, manufacturer car development or general driver training. CHECK when it is open (http://www.nuerburgring.de/index.php?id=10) before departing, it's not open every day.

>>Track entrance webcam (http://nuerburgring.de/fileadmin/webcam/webcam.jpg)<<

Nordschleife translates to “North loop”, many years ago there was also the Nürburgring Südschleife (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/sudschleife.html) (“South Loop”), and there is also the Nürburgring Grand Prix track used for the headline events that require a fully FIA compliant circuit with gravel traps and the like (e.g. F1, DTM, truck racing, etc).

Officially there are 73 bends but in total counting each kink and curve the total is up to around the 180 mark; to add to the fun, most are blind on the entry and almost none have any run off if you get it wrong. It's a challenging circuit to learn, but very rewarding as a result.

There is a wealth of information available on the net. The top UK/English speaking sites are:

www.Nurburgring.org.uk The original and full of info but the site owner (Ben Lovejoy) seems to be losing interest so it's not always updated quickly. Also check the forum for the latest news, gossip, trip discussions, etc
www.NorthLoop.co.uk - nice safety video, good advice, very friendly people in the fast-growing forum who are usually happy to give advice and will often exchange passenger laps in your/their vehicles if you ask
http://bridgetogantry.com - lots of spy shots, links to good videos, some advice and a list of times that people have achieved between the bridge near the start of a public access lap and the gantry towards the end

The official site is http://www.nuerburgring.de - it is meant to have matching English/German pages but they don't always work and it can be a little difficult to navigate.

Can you 'learn' where to go from video games?
Answer: Yes.
Disclaimer: But only to a degree.
Disclaimer #2: and some games are more accurate than others.

XBox/360: Forza Motorsport and Forza Motorsport 2 are fantastic guides. I do not recommend the Project Gotham series as they depict a very 'arcadey' feel to the track and in reality it's a LOT narrower and twistier.
PS2/3: From the little I've seen, the GT series of games are accurate, too.
PC: I think GP Legends is good, but note that some bits of the have changed a lot in 50 years!

In any case, use the games purely to learn if a left or a right comes next and roughly how severe it is - and does it tighten!? Ignore lap times and think more about how many times you crash off track. Don't compare the good lap you fluke and think you'll have the skills/balls/(stupidity!) to match such a time in reality.

Circuit guide
Read this PDF produced by BMW (http://www.bmw.com/generic/com/en/fascination/bmwm/automobiles/specials/_pdf/bmwm_nordschleife.pdf) (who run the 'Ring). It'll give newcomers an insight into just how technical a proper lap is, and give those who have been before a few extra things to take-in or potentially aim for. There is a great sense of achievement just from driving the ideal line at a relatively slow speed. :thumbs:

One thing to note, the start/finish as discussed in the guide is actually a few corners in when you access the track from the public day's entry; you will start half way along the huge straight.

Previous Trip Reports (by me)
2006 part 1 (http://www.mkivsupra.net/vbb/showpost.php?p=912596&postcount=257) part 2 (http://www.mkivsupra.net/vbb/showpost.php?p=914125&postcount=269)
2007 (http://www.mkivsupra.net/vbb/showthread.php?p=1500872#post1500872)
2008 (http://www.mkivsupra.net/vbb/showthread.php?t=136586&page=29) (includes pictures & videos)

05-01-09, 20:19
Things you should think about before going to the 'Ring

If you've not been before
Please read...

this background info (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/beginners.html)
this general guide/info (http://www.northloop.co.uk/newbies.htm)
this advice on the dos and don'ts (http://www.northloop.co.uk/safety/safety_english.pdf)
this good advice (http://bridgetogantry.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=30)

How dangerous is it? What if the worst happens and I crash?
If you treat the 'Ring as a fast road rather than a modern high-spec track with run off areas (you're never more than a few metres from unforgiving barrier), and you don't push your limits, then you shouldn't go far wrong. Test your limits on a modern track with run off, not here.

However, just in case I feel a sensible insurance policy is to take a credit card with you; as you should already be aware (from the links above) apart from the expense of being dragged off the track, any damage you cause to the track, and closures and/or spillages - has to be paid for - by you. It can quickly add up if you're unlucky (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/prices.html)
The record armco bill I'm aware of is €15,000. That was a car that managed to flatten a very impressive length of armco between the Quiddlebacher Hohe bridge and the crest on the approach to Flugplatz. But even a minor bump can turn into a surprisingly expensive day out.

Sensible advice: If someone catches up with you; they are quicker than you - even if it is a mini (in fact he's one of the quickest (http://www.ringmini.de/English_Version/english_version.html) drivers out there) - let them pass, then get on with your lap. If you catch someone up, wait till they spot you and they indicate to pull out of the way, then pass them ON THE LEFT and get on with your lap. The sooner a slower car is out of your way of & passed by a faster car that has caught up with it, the better & safer it is for everyone.

Reminder: When it's open to the public, normal German traffic laws apply and officially the 'Ring is a one-way toll road. Overtaking must be done on the left. Witnessed incidents of dangerous driving will be prosecuted.

In summary; drive safe, don't try to race anyone, and take along a credit card for peace of mind in case you're unlucky.

95dB Noise limit
There is a noise limit of 95dB which is enforced (at the barriers and by trackside sound level monitors); if your seems too loud, staff will pick you out as you join/exit the track and carry out a test as follows;

Rev the engine to 2/3rds of the redline value and (get a friend to) measure the noise 1 metre from the exhaust, and at a 45 degree angle.
Further info & guidance can be found here. (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/noise.html)

Car & modification safety checks (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/tuv/index.html) may be carried out on your car, but last year I didn’t see any take place. German registered cars will be expected to meet stringent “TUV” checks and be able to prove they do; our closest equivalent is the MoT so take that with you just in case you’re asked; plus any type approval you may have for items such as roll cages. It’s unlikely you’ll be asked, but there is no harm in taking it just in case.

05-01-09, 20:19
Preparing for a Trip

Roughly how much does a trip cost?
Also: How many souvenirs might I buy?
How much does a lap cost?
How much fuel do you use on a lap?
...and other such questions
Answer: See attached spreadsheet for a reasonable idea. (At the bottom of this post.)

Where is it?
route map from Dunkerque to the public entrance (http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&saddr=dunkerque&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&geocode=%3BFc44AAMdBEtqAA&mra=ls&sll=50.769715,4.2733&sspn=4.690177,7.404785&ie=UTF8&ll=50.771208,4.801025&spn=4.690177,7.404785&z=7).

Where to Stay?
Note: "Pension" = B&B.

<<need to add huge list of accom here when I find it :( >>

This is where we stayed last year (http://www.pension-muehlenhardt.de/) and it's ideal for groups; it's got 1 single plus 13 double/twin rooms (doubles in German accomodation are usually 2 single beds pushed together so the room layout/use is flexible), a bar, garage with pit, loads of parking space, is ~2 miles from the Ring entrance and a nice downhill walk for 20-60 mins gets you to Breidscheid & Adenau (or a taxi ride for the weary). Ask for Edgar, and tell him I sent you. ;)

Other recommendations here (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/where_to_stay.html).

Check that your passport (and the passport of anyone who may be travelling with you) won't expire any time close to/during(!) your trip.


Tell your insurance company that you're taking your car abroad, check that they extend your cover to Europe for the duration of the trip and take out additional cover if they don't. (Many policies will include European cover for a limited number of days per year - but it's only 'activated' if you tell them when you're going.)
Check you're covered FC for being on the Nurburgring OR
accept the risk of damaging your car OR
take out additional insurance (£££s)

Medical/Travel insurance
'E111' cards are free and will cover most medial expenses if you're eligible for one (UK citizen) but they don't cover everything, so CHECK the details (http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Policyandguidance/Healthadvicefortravellers/Gettingtreatmentaroundtheworld/EEAandSwitzerland/DH_4114793) rather than make any potentially costly assumptions.
They also don't cover loss of passports/money/having to cancel going on the trip due to ill health or any additional medical expenses like being brought back to the UK if you get really ill.... if you're worried about these things, then purchase some travel insurance cover.

Breakdown cover
Direct Line (http://www.directline.com/european_motoring/welcome.htm) will provide temporary European cover (including repatriation to the UK). The system won't quote more than a handful of months in advance, but - if you book at least 7 days in advance it'll also cover your travel in the UK to & from the port/tunnel. (At least it did last year!)
Alternatively, last year I suggested that a year's ADAC membership (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/adac.html) (the European version of the AA) may be useful. HOWEVER this year so far ADAC's stance on recovery from the 'Ring seems to be uncertain. Have a look at the info on the page I've linked to for the latest.

When I'm here where can I watch from?
See attached Word doc (zipped up) for the most common viewing spots.

05-01-09, 20:20

Flag meanings & light signals

Yellow: Accident, reduce speed considerably, no overtaking.
Yellow-Red: Oil spill on course, reduce speed considerably, no overtaking.
Red: Course blocked, slow to at least 1/3 speed, be ready to stop if instructed, leave at the earliest opportunity (alternative exit at Breidscheid).

There are also a few yellow/red lights dotted around the track, which will flash to indicate the same scenario as the above flags - keep an eye out for these too.

It's useful to stick your hazard warning lights on if you come across any of the above; people behind will see that and understand why you're slowing, plus anyone stood on the track will know you've seen them.

PMRs / Radios / Walkie-Talkies
Essential on group trips as far as I'm concerned. If you don't have some, I bought some of these (http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5530434/Trail/C%24cip%3D50277.Office%2C%2BPC%2Band%2Bphones%3EC%24cip%3D50351.Two-way%2Bradios.htm) and they work great.

Apart from allowing a convoy’s members to talk to each and pass the monotony that is motorway driving across Europe, the leader can shout out when exits are up ahead and everyone can shout out if they need fuel or have any technical difficulties and need to stop. They're also really handy for chatting/organising activities/”I’m setting off - please photograph/film me” whilst at the 'Ring (they have a several mile range) - and a lot cheaper than making mobile calls which is the alternative.

What do I need to take?:
As well as the stuff mentioned above...
Legal stuff:
Whilst driving abroad you must at all times you must be able to prove that you are:

licensed to drive the category of vehicle you are in
either the owner of the vehicle or that you have a owner's permission to drive (i.e. take your V5 - but don't keep it in the car)

You are also legally obliged to have:

GB sticker/numberplate
Headlight deflectors (even in daylight)
Warning triangle
Spare light bulbs
First aid kit
...though I risked it and didn't have most of that.

Other stuff:

The usual travelling stuff (clothes, passport, Europe-friendly plastic)
At least enough cash* to get you supplies on the way to the 'Ring and to feed you for a night
A card that will let you withdraw cash abroad
European maps or preferabaly sat-nav so you know where you're going and always have the option to go and explore at any stage (some group members may consider a sight-seeing route back via Spa, for example?)
Radios (see above)
Ferry/Tunnel booking confirmation
Suncream & a hat/cap - high altitude = easy sunburn

* = There is a cash machine (http://www.northloop.co.uk/newbies.htm#cash) near the 'Ring and a couple more a decent drive away. Plan a day ahead so you don't depend on them to be working.

And if you're still reading after all that!...
You might be willing to sit through these 2 safety videos!
Official video in the style of a 1980s H&S corporate film (http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/safetyvideo/index.html)
Northloop's own version - much more watchable, same key info

little num
05-01-09, 20:21
cheers ste this will save alot of question.

09-01-09, 19:53
good to know for future..Thanks

10-01-09, 09:37
Nice info Steve ... ;)

10-01-09, 09:40
Thanks for this. Im planning on making my first trip this year

10-01-09, 09:53
Very informative post :thumbs:

10-01-09, 11:57
nice post steve :thumbs:

11-01-09, 13:28
I'll get the suggested B&B/other accomodation info added tonight hopefully, I need to dig out some notes I was making for last year and the year before, links and stuff...

I'll add something about prep for the car and mind before a lap too. ;)

11-01-09, 14:31
Great info steve, hows your head btw,:D

15-01-09, 22:39
ooh bugger, B&B/hotels - nearly forgot! - I'm adding that info to the above now...

edit - opening times link added.

15-03-09, 18:30
The law changed in France and Belgium last year (check Germany somebody?) and you now have to have a high-vis vest in your car. It has to be in a place where it can be put on without the need to get out of the car. Its use is mandatory in the event of a breakdown or accident. There is (being France) an on-the-spot fine for non compliance of I think 130€ - similar to not wearing your seat belt. Some policemen see foreigners as an easy target. The vest, like the warning triangle needs to carry a CE approval and you can get fined for not having the right sort. Contrary to what they might tell you in Britain, you only need one vest. Other things to note - don't have a laser detector or jammer in your car, you'll be in very serious trouble if you do. The police carry a file with them telling them exactly which are legal and which aren't, so you can't talk your way out of trouble. Oh yes and you can have your car confiscated for serious speeding in France and Belgium - 120mph plus and you might not get it back. Germany's a whole different ballgame so wait till you get there before nailing it.

Just found this - http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/touring_tips/compulsory_equipment.pdf

15-03-09, 22:16
I've just remembered I've got a viewing locations guide I adapted from one on the web somewhere, I'll dig it out ASAP.

16-03-09, 21:38
Good man! Great write up, still trying to see if i can mange to make this.

16-07-09, 21:10
How to get to the various spectating points - guide added to post 3

11-12-09, 00:42
Very helpful as im looking to go next year in the car and on the bike (if all goes to plan) ;)

What sort of driving time am i looking at from dunquerke?

11-12-09, 12:49
Very helpful as im looking to go next year in the car and on the bike (if all goes to plan) ;)

What sort of driving time am i looking at from dunquerke?

Depends how fast you go, how often you need to stop (always more frequent when there are more people in the party) and what kind of traffic you hit. Four hours is possible, but more like five and a bit if you go easy and take a couple of short breaks.

11-12-09, 13:14
Thats not as bad as i thought. Gotta add that to the 3 hours from where i live in the midlands and the hour at the chunnel. Can be done in a day then, just!

11-12-09, 17:27
Thats not as bad as i thought. Gotta add that to the 3 hours from where i live in the midlands and the hour at the chunnel. Can be done in a day then, just!
It's certainly doable, just get plenty of sleep before as the drive is dull, dull, dull.

11-12-09, 18:04
Good write up Steve :)

19-12-09, 12:06
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19-12-09, 12:21
Steve. Your link to the portable radios doesn't bring the items up now.
May be useful to put the make and model up instead as it's just a case of googling them then. :)

22-12-09, 12:49
Steve. Your link to the portable radios doesn't bring the items up now.
May be useful to put the make and model up instead as it's just a case of googling them then. :)
Fair point, well spotted.

The exact make & model aren't too important, but I'd recommend the following features are a minimum:

5km range (because in the real world that should guarantee you get at least 1km range relatively noise free)
the (8+?) main channels PLUS the (8+?) sub-channels per main channel - i.e. something that states "304 total channel combinations" is spot on.
as long a standby/talktime duration as possible
dual charger

That's about all you need - if it's got that, start reading buyers reviews but don't feel you need to splash out on anything too expensive £40 tops will get you what you need (http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5530654/Trail/searchtext%3E2-WAY+RADIO.htm), anything more expensive it just getting you nice-to-haves).

Ooh, maybe make sure it's got a hands free kit as I believe 2-way use whilst driving is covered by the same law as mobile phones, at least here in the UK if not further afield as well.

20-04-14, 14:23
I'm currently down at the Ring just now, I drove from Scotland to Reimerath (2km from the track and where my B&B is) in 20 hours and that's including the ferry crossing from Dover to Dunkirk.
I was last her in October of last year and if there's one thing I've noticed, it's probably worthwhile coming when it's NOT a tourist day, as it's mega busy and you have varying abilities of driver on the track from guys going round in 12-15 minutes and then those hardened veterans pushing 7 minutes a lap. These two types of people don't mix well on the same track and then add the bikes in to the mix!
Also, whatever your budget, double it, and then take a credit card with you! This trip so far has cost me €1100 in repairs.
4 new tyres and 2 new brake disc after my front right disc decided it no longer wanted to be a one piece item and thought the best time to shear in to bits was as I was braking hard at 100mph in to a tight right hander... Needless to say I was not impressed! lol
Still, loads to do here other than the track itself, the museum is well worth a trip, the electric go karts are something else and then there's the hours of stood trackside at the many viewing points just in awe of some of the drivers ability to wrestle their cars around the track. I'll try and not hijack this any more. But one word of warning from me, you may think you're a good driver, but trust me, step out of line once on the Ring and it will bite you harder than you've ever known! It's not called the Green Hell for nothing! :-)