– Words: Narada Kudinar. Photos: Berty.
This year, Circuit Club was turning 10 years old, and we wanted to do something really special to celebrate – the question was what would we do? Well, we love cars, really love driving and are absolutely fanatical about racing – so it was decided – we must hold a track day at the Nurburgring. After months of planning, 19 of us were lucky enough to be able to head over to Europe, via Dubai, and have what was possibly the most crazy motorsport adventure we had ever been on.
PART ONE – GETTING THERE, VIA DUBAI
Flying to Europe is a pretty long way away, so we thought we would break it up and stop off in Dubai for two nights.
Every epic trip needs an epic t-shirt.
The start of a driving enthusiasts dream holiday.
Dubai, the land of half-empty skyscrapers…
… and sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
The first activity was to get on those dune buggies.
It felt like a crazy Mad Max moment, dust everywhere and 16 engines revving like crazy.
Then we saw a random camel giving birth…
… which we thought was really cool.
Generally when excited you wave your hands in the air. Notice Asians use peace signs.
The buggies had 330cc engines, so plenty of power and heaps of fun.
Afterwards we need to refill our tanks with Ravi’s…
… so we could get our Karting on!
Dubai Kartdrome is an epic 1.2km figure of eight circuit (half of Wakefield!).
We had one practice session and one qualifying session.
Then two races, the second with a reverse grid.
Things got really competitive.
Lining up on the grid.
Karting is miniature fun! Dubai really set the scene for the rest of the trip. Crazy and action packed, it was clear that our crowd weren’t interested in being tourists. “Do you guys want to see the Souks?” one would ask, “Nah, lets just rest by the pool so we have energy for karting tonight,” says another.
PART TWO – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS
The very next day, we flew to Frankfurt and headed straight to Nurburg to pick up our race cars. Our first track day would be at Spa Francorchamps, the legendary 7km circuit in the Ardennes Forest, Belgium.
Before we got there, we got to AUTOBAHN! One of the guys got an upgrade to a 328i, so top speed was around 250. This particular car only hit 229.
Arriving at RSR Nurburg, our buddies with race cars.
Strapping into a Lotus Exige 240S.
Driving the countryside twisties on the way to Belgium.
Epic countryside views during a driver swap.
Arrived at Hotel La Source, situated at the La Source Hairpin.
Our surprise guest – Sabine Schmit!
We couldn’t believe we were actually there…
… and how stunning the environment was.
We started the day with a track walk.
Our cars were prepped with wet racing tyres, grippier than semis! Dry tyres were put back on when the track cleared up.
Some of us go for a hot lap with Sabine in her GT3RS.
A crazy pit lane doesn’t even compare to…
… Eau Rouge.
It felt like such a dream to be driving what many F1 drivers describe as the best racing circuit in the world.
GT3RS’ were by far the most popular car on the circuit…
but our Lotus’ were so awesome and suited for the track.
Getting to drive a 2013 Cayman S.
And lucky bastard Steve driving a Mclaren MP4-12C.
Another epic view – the Bus Stop Chicane.
Another picture of a Porsche.
End of an awesome track day, happy people with waving arms included.
The whole Spa track day felt like a dream that we couldn’t wake up from. It was a true Spa experience in that it started wet, became dry, then was wet on one half of the track while dry on the other half.
Nothing in Australia can compare the scale of Spa and world class facilities mixed with such a historic sense of beingness. To think we had just driven on an F1 circuit was one thing, experiencing Eu Rouge, over and over again, was something completely on another level.
PART THREE: NURBURG TOUR RALLY
Back at Nurburg, we decided it would be best to do a little tour of the neighbourhood, so we jumped back into our Lotus’ and took them for a spin through some local (awesome) roads.
The Tour Rally is a great way to get acquainted with the Nurburgring.
We spent the morning driving awesome twisty roads that snake through and around the Nurburgring.
Historic maps can be found around the ‘Ring and give a great indication of what used to be.
Walking up towards the highest point of the circuit.
The highest point on the track. Empty racing circuits always look so romantic.
What the track used to look like – safe!
After the Tour Rally, the VLN endurance series happened to be on at the same time, so we went to check it out.
This is a local racing series, equivalent to maybe the IPRA. Crazy stuff!
We got to mingle with some racing drivers…
and see more Porsche’s…
BMW’s… the list goes on. So many different cars and set ups. Some of us got to ride passenger during the practice session too!
PART FOUR: FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW
While we were in Germany, the Frankfurt Motorshow also happened to be on. Some of us checked it out on our day off.
This was less than half the Porsche stand.
BMW had a floating road with a BMW i8 circling all day long, emissions free.
Audi had an upsidedown city?
While Mercedes had a 3 storey stage!
Ala IKEA, you would start at the top and go in one direction down through all the model range. It felt like Mercedes had more cars on display than the entire Australian Motorshow.
In the end, the race cars are always the most drool worthy.
PART FIVE: THE NURBURGRING
First thing we see in the carpark.
This picture is a good representation of the most common cars at the track on the day.
There must have been over 600-700 cars there that day, all doing laps of the ‘Ring. This was the queue to do the next lap. The left lane is for another lap, the right lane for exiting.
Another queue picture, that Evo probably the only Japanese car there.
We got to drive Renault Clio’s and Megane’s that day.
The Clio’s were awesome through corners and were easily pushed hard, but lacked power up those long, long hills.
This Mini was a giant killer, one of the fastest cars on the day. Powered by VTEC no less!
Nice 991 from Switzerland!
Our final day in Germany was spent at the Nurburgring, which was a crazy experience. Being a Sunday “Tourist Laps” day, there were at least 600-700 cars there all ready for happy laps.
Just like everyone says, the thing that surprises you most are the sheer elevation changes of the circuit. For parts of it you feel like you are climbing up a mountain forever, then all of a sudden dropping off a cliff face.
The circuit is also really narrow and the runoff ridiculous. In fact, there was probably an average of 1 crash every 1.5 hours. Think of it like a Wakefield Park open day on steroids.
Luckily, none of us had an accident here, and we were all raving on about how capable the Renault Meganes were. Their chassis handled the ups and downs of Nurburgring with ease, and their turbocharged 2.0L engines pulled uphill no problems.
By the end of the long (11 hour) day, everyone was exhausted. We ended the day with a few beers at the Pistenklaus, a restaurant run by Sabine Schmitz’s parents and spend a few hours recapping what an epic week we had just had. Never had we driven so many famous corners before, and sadly, it was now time for us to leave.
To spend around $10K for a week in Europe, people would say, is just too crazy, but we all agreed in the end that we were crazy for racing and therefore crazy enough to spend it. What an epic once in a lifetime trip, that we hope we will do again soon.
To learn about how you can join Circuit Club on their next epic adventure, go to circuitclubtravel.com