The SpeedGirls Magazine


The Green Hell

Nearly a Century of Road Racing Tells Her Story

You may know the name.  You may not.  But what you should know is this race track is like a magical lady that will seduce you, whip you, and leave you begging for more. Only few of us, the daring, the coinsure of race, in his or her life will ever experience her touch.  Will you be that person?  Maybe after reading about the Nurburgring, you just may indulge yourself, or be warned to stay away.

One can say, the Nurburgring is the track of all tracks.  It’s a thirteen-mile asphalt mecca, embedded in the hills of Germany. Succumb to her call, and you’ll find that she hosts nearly 174 turns, elevation changes of 1000 feet, and nearly a 4-mile straight stretch.  It’s a very old, historic race track — yet it is dangerous, haunted by disaster and was once coined; “The Green Hell.”

Constructed between the years of 1925 and 1927, Nurburgring was a showcase for automotive engineering and racing talent.  Plotted throughout rolling hills and a around a small village named Nurburg (Hence, “Nurberg-Ring”), this was once a quite farming community; that even hosts a small castle overlooking the region.  But all changed when the roar of motorcycle racing and automobile enthusiasts began filling the hills to witness history being made.

Faced with many challenges from the start, the entire course of the original track was stopped being used for Grand Prix events, just two years later in 1929.  This was due to it’s overall length, difficulty to host safe racing, and just shear madness as the track was too fast, too dangerous, and hosted several areas to actually catch flight — due to sudden jumps.  So the original Nurburgring was divided into three courses, including the Gesamtstrecke, Sudschleife and the Nordschleife.

Despite the dangerous features, up to 1976 the Nordschleife regularly hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix.  Reigning Champion Nikki Lauda, held the fastest lap running 14.189 miles under seven minutes.  Unfortunately during the race in 1976, he crashed out of a corner and was trapped in his car while it burned. Other drivers had to stop and rescue him, barely getting Lauda out in time.  This crash proved that emergency crews could not adequately reach an accident in the necessary time.  1976 was the last Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring.

Serious reconditioning took place and in 1984 a new version of the track was completed.  Renamed named “GP-Strecke’, which literally means Grand Prix Course.  Despite being re-built to the highest of safety standards, purists consider the new version a mere shadow of it’s older sibling. In light of the many updates, the Formula 1 Grand Prix has only visited the track a large handful of times, forcing the facility to focus on hosting other European and national events including the largest, The 24 Hour Nurburgring race.

Despite the sanctioned race events, since it’s original opening in 1927, the Nurburgring has offered its weekends open for the public to race and in recent years, with the daunting, yet exciting history, has become an asphalt novelty for enthusiasts from all over the world to experience.  The facility offers a full rental fleet of cars to choose from, or you can drive your own vehicle.  With the influx of travelers making their pilgrimage, the local economy has picked up and begun building more facilities in the area such as restaurants and shopping centers, turning the valley into a tourist-like attraction.

But in spite of the opportunity to jump in a rental car and race through the hills of Nurbergring, one cannot deny the ghostly chills this course offers.  She is enchanting, such as that of a siren calling you through the rolling hills and switch backs.  Enticing you to speed faster, get closer to the viewpoint of turning; then she burns you with blind spotting treachery.  Take head before you touch the curves of this lady, she’s an old wicked soul.