RINGSIDE SEAT: STATE OF PLAY
Don't listen to the rumours, bankruptcy or not the 'ring is still thriving - but what does the future hold?
went bust. It's a sorry and confusing state of affairs, but not one affecting the day-to-day running of the business. Not yet. The circuit is still operated by the unpopular Nurburgring Automotive GmbH, who are supposed to pay rent to the state-owned Nurburgring GmbH. And it's the latter, the holder of the land and a whopping 400m euros of debt, that has finally gone bankrupt.
You could be forgiven for thinking the gates are chained shut right now, such has been the over-reaction of some of the more ill-informed automotive tabloids. The reality is that while the track's future hangs in the balance, the day-to-day operation of the parts we love (the actual Nordschleife and GP circuits) is still running at full speed.
Rock Am Ring will definitely go ahead in 2013, while discussions for the 24-hour and F1 events will begin soon.
Track days to the end of this year are all either fully-booked, or close to it. The famously high-end Gran Turismo Evo event in September is boasting an entry list filled with Koenigseggs, Paganis and Ferraris. Proof, if proof were needed, that money is still flowing into the 'ring like never before in its 85-year existence. The question is, where is this money flowing, if not into the coffers of the track owners?
Nobody really has an answer right now, but a new grassroots movement called Ring-Region lays the blame firmly on the current leaseholders, and calls for all efforts at privatisation to cease.
Right now the world's uber-rich only visit the 'ring for specific events like Scuderia Hanseat, or Gran Turismo Events mentioned above. But if Bernie Ecclestone, or a similar flavour of investor, gets a hold of the track, the local fear is it could become a new Paul Ricard. While the French circuit enjoyed massive investment and a fantastic overhaul thanks to Bernie's dollars, most commentators agree that it's become a destination for the rich and famous. The Nordschleife, by comparison, has always been a track for the people (for better or for worse). Certainly it's impossible to imagine replacing any part of the Nordschleife's grimy barriers and woodland with acres of blue paint and run-off.
And the local businesses are set up to cater to a few thousand average petrolheads per weekend, rather than just a few dozen wealthy individuals.
But like I said, there's highs and lows. Many of us here in the village are looking on the brighter side. The chance that the state will finally open the books, and identify the parts that work (the Nordschleife, the GP circuit, the public sessions) and cut off the parts that don't (the arena, the roller-coaster, the NuroDisney village).
Only time will tell. In the meantime, we've started a Euro-millions syndicate here in Nurburg. If we can scoop that 156 million euros jackpot on offer tonight, our offer will be on the table by Monday morning. Count on it.