Wednesday 19th January 2011


Don't worry, tourist laps are here to stay, and with added bells and whistles

If our investigation into the latest developments at the Nürburgring has got you feeling all downhearted then fear not. The unique tourist laps enjoyed by many a PHer over the years are here to stay and remain at the core of the Nürburgring's activities and - as we've seen - all-important revenue stream.

And though prices have risen this year - an all-year ticket by as much as 26 per cent - new features will be introduced.

One of these includes officially sanctioned video cameras, available to rent from the track. As most seasoned visitors know, tempting as it may be, filming your nine minutes of glory (or seven seconds of infamy) is officially outlawed in public driving, with offenders receiving bans on the spot.

Aware that the ban has been widely flouted but fearful of accidents - fatal or otherwise - ending up on YouTube, circuit operators Nürburgring Automotive will run a pilot scheme that legitimises tourist drivers recording their laps for posterity.

"We know people want to have a movie of driving on the Nordschleife," says a spokesperson for Nürburgring Automotive, "but the problem was we wouldn't be able to see what was on the camera and we didn't want to have any images of accidents on the track." To that end a limited number of cameras will be available to rent from the spring. Once the footage has been scrutinised for any unwelcome recordings it will be released to the driver in a format to be confirmed.

The Nürburgring gets control over the footage being recorded on the circuit and extra revenue stream while we can get our laps on film without having to resort to hidden bullet cams secreted into numberplates or in deeply personal areas of dash-mounted soft toys (you know who you are...) This does, of course, mean boasts of "that was eight minutes bridge to gantry, easy" may be harder to prove over steak on a stone in the Pistenklause, so think carefully before signing on the line.

Our source at the Nürburgring was also able to comment on a rumour that growing pressure from the government threatening the compulsory use of transponders in tourist driving to monitor noise and pollution levels have been overstated, for now at least.

"They will not be used during public driving," says our spokesperson. "When we talk about transponders we're talking about during races so we're not going to put transponders in [tourist drive] cars for 2011."

And what about improvements to the - at times - chronically unsuitable car park and entrance to the Nordschleife? "We know the problem, we're working on solutions for this," is all they'll say for now; anyone caught up in the regular post-closure gridlock at public days knows this can't come soon enough.

Author: Dan Trent
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