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Monday 23rd January 2012

Ringside seat: tourist laps under threat

Our man at the Nurburgring on why the 'ring needs weekday tourist sessions



Dark clouds (literal and figurative) are gathering over Nurburg, and the mood here is understandably grim. The ongoing saga of the Nurburgring's crisis just gets worse by the day. Threats of mass unemployment amongst Nurburgring employees, possible cancellation of the F1 rounds, and even an alleged additional €160m of debt (yes, that's nearly half a billion total now). How can things get any worse?

Well, try this one on for size: what if the track's last cash cow got caught in the crossfire between cost-cutting and money-making? Last month the public opening times for the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the 'touristenfahrten' sessions were released. Or to be more accurate, they were only half-released.


Only dates up until July 1 were put online at the Nurburgring's official site. And they didn't include any mid-week evening openings. In June there are currently only two days with public sessions on the track.

This isn't just awful news for drivers of the slightly less-crowded midweek openings, it's bad news for anybody who is right now making plans to drive the Nordschleife. A whole year's worth of visitors will be cramming their trip into the few days that are advertised.

Personally, as an employee of an independent rental firm that is nearly 100 per cent reliant on the Nurburgring's public sessions, it could be an utter disaster. With no mid-week rentals my employers would see turnover cut by up to 60 per cent, and profits even more so. Staff would have to go, possibly myself included.

But why on earth would the Nurburgring cut back on the now-€26 per lap, and up to €10,000 per hour public sessions? The rumour is, and I stress it's just a vicious rumour, that the industry testing might one day stretch from 8am until 7pm. These industry pool sessions, as they're called, have been nibbling into the public times for several years. Visitors last year often only had time for a couple of laps as posted opening times of 1730h were often delayed by up to and over one hour. Industry test schedules and 'lap times' taking precedence over a carpark full of frustrated petrolheads.


The official response of the Nurburgring to my pestering was to publish the first eight evening opening times in March.

Ann-Katherin Schürmann of the Nurburgring's press department told me, "The opening times will now be published step by step in the internet on our homepage www.nuerburgring.de and there are no plans [to replace the evening touristenfahrten sessions with industry sessions]."

I truly hope so, because not only do the public hours keep this place alive, but a lap of the 'ring is the only thing guaranteed to break anybody's bad mood.

 

Dale Lomas
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varsas

Original Poster:

3,284 posts

82 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Oh dear. More bad news then. While I realise it's a business, it also (in a way) belongs to the people (of Germany) so it's shame when restrictions on it's enjoyment, by the public, are put in place. I'd get very upset indeed if my local council started closing the local woods so they could rent it out to a horse riding club.

Pingman

376 posts

81 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Do they make more money from manufacturers hiring the whole circuit to privately test their vehicles than they get from public sessions?

Mermaid

15,742 posts

51 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Pingman said:
Do they make more money from manufacturers hiring the whole circuit to privately test their vehicles than they get from public sessions?
Or they don't want the "retail" public for the hassle may outweigh the benefit of renting out to clubs, manufacturers & such.

Matt UK

8,920 posts

80 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Glad that I've already ticked this box as the current clowns are making it increasing hard to spend my time and money here again frown

mrmr96

13,462 posts

84 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Will the "prestige" of a "good ring time" for a sports car become less valued by car buyers if they can't actually take such cars to said track?!
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106 gti

814 posts

85 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Talk about "Biting the hand that feeds them".

Loskey

630 posts

96 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Matt UK said:
Glad that I've already ticked this box as the current clowns are making it increasing hard to spend my time and money here again frown
+1

TankRizzo

2,461 posts

73 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Was that written by Dale? Worrying times for him if this goes ahead.

Mermaid

15,742 posts

51 months

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Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
TankRizzo said:
Was that written by Dale? Worrying times for him if this goes ahead.
Sounds like him.

Worrying for the area.

Loskey

630 posts

96 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Yeah I agree, that sounds like Dale

Dakkon

6,402 posts

133 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Not good news frown

hesnotthemessiah

2,121 posts

84 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
I'm also glad to have ticket that particular box but.....What a disaster!

So much anguish caused to so many by so few......well two megalomaniacs to be exact.

PascalBuyens

2,868 posts

162 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
The Ring's management is something strange, indeed...

iluvmercs

5,703 posts

107 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
How awful!

I remember going there last year for an evening session, only to wait and wait until they told us the TF wasn't going ahead.
Poor show for TFs.

It also seems to be happening for private track days.
I booked myself in for an October track day. The company I used had less dates than last year, and even Audi haven't go the track to themselves this year, after I enquired about their training days at the 'Ring.

What on earth is going on with this company?! frown

Darren

EDLT

14,700 posts

86 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
mrmr96 said:
Will the "prestige" of a "good ring time" for a sports car become less valued by car buyers if they can't actually take such cars to said track?!
It was a pointless statistic anyway and led to cars with suspension that is far too stiff for the road. Even the 0-60 time was more relevant than how quickly a hatchback can be driven around a track that most Germans won't visit, never mind the rest of us.

johno333

50 posts

29 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Is this down to the manufacturers paying more money than the likes of us thus driving out the trackdayers?

If so it could get to the stage where Porsche (for instance) state that their latest car can go around the 'Ring in 7 mins and it will stop being relevant as no-one will know what it's like to go around the ring apart from if they own a Playstation - and that is not what it feels like.

Makes no sense.

Thejimreaper

3,141 posts

85 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
I do hate hearing all the negative news about the ring. Having only been visiting the place over the past 7years, it has changed a lot.

It used to have a really special feeling as you left the autobahns and wound your way up through the hills to the ring for the weekend. It felt so special as it really felt out of the way. Now with all the development you feel like you could be at any old race circuit. To use a phrase I hate, it does feel totally commercialised in a bad way. I truly hope they keep the number of TF days up, as that is what sets the place apart from all the others. They should be at the centre of their promotions for the place and not looking at reducing them. Fingers crossed.

benzito

1,056 posts

39 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
I've never been, however the way things are looking I might never get to go

Kong

1,462 posts

51 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
How bizzare, they must make a FORTUNE from the touristenfahrten days. 26 Euros per lap and any losses from track closure/armco damage etc have to be paid for by the driver.

I had already booked 2 weekends off to go there this year, neither of which are when it's open. Not that i'd want to go anyway, from the sounds of this it will be too busy anyway.

Looks like i'll be going to the DTM race in Spielberg instead.

Fireblade69

557 posts

83 months

[news] 
Friday 20th January 2012 quote quote all
Given up on going anymore frown This current debacle plus the increasingly difficult insurance questions has pretty much ruled it out for me. Cheap track car and UK trackdays only for the foreseeable future.
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