Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nurburgring Part 1 - Nurburg, Germany

After leaving Stuttgart, we drove to our next destination. I said in my previous post that this place is special because it's a place that I have wanted to visit (and drive) for the last few years. Some say that there are two rings of marriage - the engagement ring and the wedding ring. Some say that there is a third ring - the suffering. I say there's a fourth - the Nurburgring. So with that being said, it's only natural that it be part of our honeymoon.

The area around the ring is all about motorsport, where else would you find a 996 parked in the lobby of your hotel?

I had booked a drive on the Nordschleife on a public day to get the full experience. We arrived in Nurburg the night before and met up with Kam, who had flown in from London. The next morning, we were up bright and early with much anticipation. We filled ourselves with the generous buffet breakfast and headed over to RSR Nurburg, the company that we were renting track cars from.

RSR offers a wide selection of cars to rent and drive on and off the ring.

For our drive, Kam and I had hired a Toyota 86 and Renault Sport Clio Cup respectively. Kam has driven the Nordschleife before, so he was going to try the 86 which is a more challenging car to drive on the ring. I chose the Clio because it's plenty of power for a beginner on the ring and yet is a very fun car to drive.

Before we could head out on to the track, a mandatory drivers briefing took place.

The briefing included a series of in-car videos of what not to do on the Nordschleife, and the consequences of doing them.

With the formalities out of the way, it was finally time to head out for my first lap! On public days, a lap of the Nordschleife is known as the Bridge to Gantry. That is, the lap starts at the Bilstein bridge (around Antoniusbuche) and ends at the Audi gantry (around Dottinger Hohe).

So without further ado, here are some videos...

My first lap - Watch out for the BMW 1 series that overtakes on the right hand side.

My third lap of the ring following a Golf for most of the lap, who was just as tentative as I was. I caught up to them at the carousel and decided to pass. Highlight was watching a 997 fly past with an R35 in chase.

My fourth lap of the ring. Getting more comfortable with the track and there was less traffic and less cars overtaking for most of the lap, allowing me to practice more of the racing line. Highlight of this lap is the multi car accident at around the 18 km mark. Porsches and BMWs flying past aren't even highlights anymore, they're a dime a dozen at the Nurburgring.

The accident took some time to clear and the track was closed for almost 2 hours. During that time, we explored the track car park, which was a visual feast in itself.

The car of choice on the ring right now seems to be either a Porsche or a BMW.

After having a look around the car park, we headed into Nurburg and had lunch at Hotel am Tiergarten (which belongs to Sabine Schmitz's family).

It was quite surreal to be in a small country town like Nurburg and have sports cars parked everywhere.

Don't mind this, just another GT2 sitting around.

After lunch, the track was open again and we headed back out to complete our laps. I drove a total of six laps and was still wanting more at the end of it. My best lap was the final lap, with a time of 10:48.2. The analysis can be seen here.

I vow to come back the drive the Nordschleife again one day.

To be continued...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mercedes-Benz - Stuttgart, Germany

Day 2 of our stay in Stuttgart and we headed over to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. A factory tour is also available but we were unable to attend due to it clashing with the Porsche factory tour the day before.

Next to the museum stands a large Mercedes-Benz dealership.

This museum is definitely the most comprehensive we visited, as it is a journey through the companies 100+ year history and highlights the significance of Daimler and Benz's achievements in motorising a carriage. It isn't just a display of motor vehicles but also tells the story of the company during key events in history.

We picked up our audio guide units and took the elevator to the top floor.

Like the Porsche Museum, this museum is an impressive piece of architecture. In particular, I found the elevator very space age and something from a science fiction movie.

Starting with the company's roots, we were introduced to the Daimler Motorised Carriage - the first car built by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.

Next to it was the Benz Patent Motor Car, built by Carl Benz.

As we walked further, we spiralled down towards the ground the floor. Each level has vehicles of significance from each era up till the present day.

Here is a view of the dealership from the museum.

Cars that we see as classic cars today were considered race cars in their day.

Mercedes-Benz has a rich history in racing and here is a poster from the 1930's featuring the what looks like a W25 race car - the beginning of the Silver Arrow name.

In the years leading up to World War II, the Nazi party used racing as a means of promoting itself and associated race victories as a symbol of German might. Here is a trophy won by Mercedes-Benz driver Rudolf Caracciola at the 1939 German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring. Look closely and you will see the Nazi crest along with the name Adolf Hitler.

A selection of Silver arrows.

As we progressed towards the modern era, we were treated to an iconic car.

The 300SL with its gull wing doors - the father of the SLS AMG.

Here is a selection of notable Mercedes racing cars (and trucks).

There's the DTM C-Class.

The SLS AMG GT3...

Beautiful Group C prototypes like the Sauber C9...

...and the Sauber C11.

And just like the beautifully wide 911 GT1, there was the CLK GTR.

Finally, we end in the world of Formula 1.

Next time you see a set of RPF1's, remember that this is where they were used.

There are just too many photos to post, click here if you would like to see more.

Next stop, somewhere quite special to me.