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Friday 11th January 2013


RINGSIDE SEAT: SILLY SEASON

'New' owners, new rules and new uncertainties - happy new year from the Nurburgring!


It’s the time of the year that we Nurburgring folk normally refer to as the silly season. But our silly season isn’t about record transfer fees and football teams. It’s about the new rules, the new prices and the new politicking over at the Nurburgring’s offices.

So let me bring you up to speed with the happenings over Christmas...

Rules apply to everyone, well, almost everyone
Rules apply to everyone, well, almost everyone
Sack everybody, you’re all hired
Walking into the office of the Nurburgring, you’ll notice it’s now called Nurburgring Betriebsgesellschaft mbH. It was previously called Nurburgring Automotive GmbH and run by the notorious Lindner and Richter. Well, all the staff on the ground are the same faces as last year, but their bosses are now the state again. Interestingly, when Lindner and Richter took their golden handshake and vacated in the direction of Dusseldorf they also kept the rights to run the F1 GP...

The F1 GP is off. The F1 GP is back on... no, it’s off. Wait...
Maybe the continued presence of L&R explains why the F1 GP still hasn’t been confirmed at the Nurburgring for 2013. The whole schedule of trackdays, public days and VLN races is hanging in limbo right now as Bernie and the boys back and forth over the details. They’re aiming for the first week of July, but God only knows if they’ll actually make it work.

New year, new rules - and a new crackdown
New year, new rules - and a new crackdown
You! With the racecar! Get off our racetrack!
In a bid to confuse Nurburgring public session fans even further, the latest rules of the ‘ring were published to key forums in December. Amongst the normal sounding rules were some pretty draconian measures about roll cages, bucket seats and snap-off steering wheels being banned. Well, I’m pleased to say that behind the scenes these rules have been cleared up as follows:

  • Bucket seats with ‘ears’ (as the Germans delightfully refer to them) are not allowed. Those are the seats with wrap-around head restraints.
  • The famous Hans device neck-restraint is also banned from public driving.
  • Roll cages with doorbars that restrict access are banned.
  • Roll cages must be padded. Not with proper FIA crash-absorbing materials. Nobody will check that. Just any old foam will do.
  • Aftermarket snap-off steering wheels are also verboten.

Road legal race cars no longer welcome
Road legal race cars no longer welcome
It sounds bad, but there’s already a bunch of banning reasons you won’t find written down anywhere, stuff like wings made of aluminium (except for Porsche 997 GT3 RS Mk2s), rotary-release harness clasps (except for those on Porsches) and any wings or canards that protrude beyond the width of the body (except for those on the Porsche GT3.RS 4.0). Obviously these rules are there to try and keep the race cars out of the public traffic, and there’s an official notice period on the enforcement of them until April 30 allegedly...

250 euros drifting penalty
Yes, they’ve put it in writing at last. No drifting. And they’re even backing up all of these rules with a 250 euros fine that you’re supposed to have agreed to pay simply by reading the contract and driving the track. Much like we all read the End User License Agreement on every new piece of software we install or phone that we buy.

So with no opening times published, and no way to drive a ‘proper’ car on the track anymore, and a 250 euros fine if I go sideways, you’d think I’d be pretty angry right now. But I’m not. It’s the silly season. It’s supposed to be silly!

Author: Dale Lomas
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