Ringside Seat: time for positive thinking

Coverage of the Nurburgring’s financial plight seems to be universally dismal these days. You can read all kinds of bad news all over the internet and even in the occasional daily newspaper, but a lot of this is just regurgitated pessimism. And it doesn’t taste any better this month than it did last month.

Plenty busy out where it counts...
Plenty busy out where it counts...
So let me tell you what’s actually happening here at the ’ring, as seen from my position as a sales-bloke on the shopfloor of our little rental car company.

I’ve been flat-out throughout August and September, both of which were record-breaking months for customers served, laps driven and turnover generated.

Year-on-year the public driving sessions have been increasing in popularity for nearly a decade before I first moved here in 2007. Anybody trying to drive more than a couple of laps on a Sunday this year will attest to that.

It’s the same story at hotels and restaurants throughout the area. Every week there are more tables and beds shoe-horned into the same size rooms. The ED gas station on Dottinger Hohe sells more Super Plus from its eight pumps than some of the biggest 24 and 32-pump stations on the autobahns.

Attendance staggering in quality and quantity
Attendance staggering in quality and quantity
The public sessions are big business; in a couple of weeks the track will open for four consecutive days of public opening and many companies around here will make as much in one weekend as a whole regular month.

And if the over-crowded tourist sessions don’t float your boat, the track day scene here has been booming too. For me, this culminated in the two day Nurburgring Evo event by Gran Turismo Events where over a 100 participants forked out over €2,000 each for two days of high-living in the four-star hotel complex and out driving on the Nordscheife. McLarens, Paganis and Bugattis were all in attendance, to the point where an M3, GTR or 911 GT3 looked like a ‘cheap’ entry. Tomorrow the first attendees will arrive for the sixth UK-operated Destination Nurburgring track day. To give you an idea of how popular a regularly-priced £500 event is, this was booked out before summer even began...

Proper cars, being used properly - hurrah!
Proper cars, being used properly - hurrah!
And it’s good news on the racing too, as the 2013 24-hour races have been confirmed for May 17-20 next year. Thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend here, that’s a Friday to Monday event. Other major ADAC events are expected to follow soon (Classic Eifelrennen, Truck GP, etc...).

So while the deserted museum, lonely arena and abandoned rollercoaster are a nearly-half-billion euro disaster, the racetrack itself is still growing every month. It’s for that reason that I just can’t or won’t believe that the bit we love is under any real threat of failure. As the politicians try to pin the blame on each other, and the Ring Werk complex struggles to open each day, don’t think for a moment that you can’t come and enjoy the real Nurburgring still.

Because you can. Only when the public stop enjoying the ’ring and spending money here will this place be in serious and imminent danger. Don’t panic, keep lapping.

Photos by www.jamesholm.se

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (32) Join the discussion on the forum

  • PascalBuyens 12 Oct 2012

    Martian O said:
    I'm there next Sunday Pascal if you fancy nipping down for a couple of laps! biggrin
    Stuck with the stupid elections in Belgium...

  • ALY77 10 Oct 2012

    Pip1968 said:
    I am glad it is not just me then that thinks this years offering of date has been poor. I am positive there were more full weekends last year. Not many are going to travel all the way from the north of England or Scotland for just one full day on track unless you can tie it into Spa or such like.

    ^ This is true. We're Edinburgh based and did Goodwood instead this year for our escape from the families trip as the dates/availability just didn't give us a viable option for heading over.

  • bobberz 09 Oct 2012

    Great pic of the BAC Mono @ the carousel!

    Must've been one helluva track day with two Carrera GTs, an F430 race car, a Veyron, a Zonda, & Alfa 8C! Must've been some spectacular sounds that day!

    Good to read a news article about the 'Ring that wasn't seemingly written by Chicken Little!

    I hope to drive it someday, but it's a long way from America & I don't have the money. frown

  • Martian O 08 Oct 2012

    Frances The Mute said:
    ....1300 mile round trip in around 40 hours..
    Respect! I did 1400 miles in four days and thought that was a bit of a marathon!

  • Frances The Mute 08 Oct 2012

    I got back last night after a quick weekend out there.

    Saturday was very poor weather (not that it stopped me going out for some sideways hilarity) and as such, the circuit and general area was deserted. The bars and restaurants, however, were far from it.
    Sunday started miserable but did brighten up as forecasted. Then, cars came from nowhere. It got very busy in a short space of time as the fog lifted and the track dried.

    By midday, it was like a normal weekend in the height of summer. The overspill carpark was close to full and people were parking on the sides of the approach road. All this time, there was tumbleweed blowing past the Ring Werk complex.

    I chatted to a number of business owners over the weekend and they are all reporting increasing interest in the place. Some of them are even looking at expanding which is very good news. There's clearly a very different view out there when you live with it on a daily basis when compared to us in the UK that rely on various 'news' sources.

    Even though it was gamble, the tree laps I managed to get in on Sunday morning when the track was finally drying out more than made up for the chunnel delay and 1300 mile round trip in around 40 hours. It also showed me that going out late in the year can still pay dividends.

    After 7 years and umpteen trips, I still adore the place.

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