Below is an un-edited article written by Graham Goodwin, Editor of dailysportscar.com, (who has arguably been to more races and more events than the rest of us combined), giving his take on this race. If this doesn't make you want to go, then nothing will!
'There are some events that are just unique – with an atmosphere that can't be replicated or reproduced.
The great endurance races, at Le Mans, at Spa and at Sebring are certainly in that bracket – but the one that the rule applies to the most isn't in that short list – but it should be – It's probably motorsport's biggest secret – The Nurburgring 24 Hours!
Everything about the Nurburgring is special – From the modern Grand Prix circuit which you approach through the historic old pits, and past the huge display listing every driver who has ever won an international race there, to the little village of Nurburg where every bar and restaurant plays host to displays of motorsport memorabilia that would keep ebay busy for weeks, to the little industrial parks that house the test and development facilities for some of the world's great car makers, and then on to the fabled Nordschleife itself!
There are simply no superlatives that can do justice to the epic scale of the famous old circuit – 15.7 miles containing 170 corners with whole villages nestling on the inside of the circuit proper.
And, of course, famously you can drive it yourself – check the circuit calendar for Touristfahrten days – ticket prices for those laps have gone up sharply recently but once relieved of a handful of Euros the circuit is yours – no speed limits, just your own skill, self confidence, bravery (and/or stupidity) between you and either an impressive lap time or a very big bill!
Be warned this is a very dangerous place – It bites, and there are precious few run off areas – Playstation Gran-Turismo 5 this is not! Tight, twisty, narrow, blind brows at the end of flat out stretches with tight turns awaiting the unwary – The repair bills alone here would exceed the GDP of an average third world country!
And they still race around here!
They certainly do – with the year long, 10 race VLN (Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstrekepokal Nurburgring - snappy eh!) series welcoming a bewildering variety of machinery from small tourers up to fire breathing GT cars.
But, top of the tree on the event front is the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring.
There are massive parallels here, the crowd at the 'Ring though is usually bigger! Well over 250,000! The vast majority are Germans and you'd barely know they were there for the most part, so vast is the circuit – The usual endurance racing rules apply – elaborate campsites, loyal attendees returning to the same spots for year after year, like nesting seabirds – Albeit nesting seabirds with massive barbecues and unfeasible quantities of beer!
The sideshows too are pretty familiar though with a German rather than Gallic flavour – literally! Sausage sir? No problem – Beer? How big a glass can you handle?
And so to the race proper – How big is the biggest grid you've ever seen? 40 cars? 50?
The 24 Hours of the Nurburgring starts with potentially 200+! With around 800 drivers!!
That's such a huge grid that the field starts in three separate groups – and once they're racing things get very, very busy, very, very quickly – And this is no gentlemanly stroll either – Look at the in-car footage of the leading cars and you'll feel like you're watching a rather faster version of Police Camera Action – and all this around the world's most dangerous circuit – for 24 Hours!
The race combines both the Nordschleife and the Grand Prix circuit – laptimes for the really quick GT2 and GT3 cars are well under 9 minutes - viewing opportunities are pretty unlimited and, believe me, there's never a moment when there's nothing to watch.
On track the race has attracted some very big guns – Factory backed entries via Porsche, BMW, Audi, Aston Martin, AMG Mercedes, Nissan, Subaru, Lexus, Lotus, Opel and Peugeot are expected this year with some real stars behind the wheel.
And there are the infamous 'Ring specials too – the race always throws up something unique whether it's twin turboed Porsches, monstrously powerful Audi saloons or even people carriers! This year though there's something really special with a one-off Ferrari racer attempting to go the full distance – The P4/5 Competizione was commissioned specifically from Pininfarina to race here and it comes with a star studded driver line-up to help.
There are always Brits galore to follow too with the likes of Richard Westbrook, Darren Turner, Tim Mullen, Sean Paul Breslin, Adam Christodoulou, Phil Quaife, Dickie Meaden and Chris Harris amongst others joining the assembled ranks of sportscar stars from around the world.
There are tyre wars too with the usual suspects, Michelin and Dunlop challenged by Hankook and Falken amongst others. The 'Ring is seen by the whole automotive industry it seems as the ultimate testing ground!
And then there's the pitlane and paddock!
Utter mayhem is the watchword here – Pit garages that for Bernie's Billionaire's fashion parade would be occupied by just a single car, a bright orange manager and a pretty girl about to launch a career in music/ fashion/ tabloid sleaze (delete as appropriate), are occupied by up to eight cars – You haven't witnessed mechanical genius until you've seen a team of burly Germans change a gearbox whilst 30 centimetres away a couple of young guns try to remove a wheel from their bent and battered BMW 1 Series!
The whole picture is pure petrolhead heaven, there is absolutely nothing else like it on the planet, with the crowd in the woods climbing over the Armco to applaud the teams on the warm-up lap and a vibe in the paddock that blends the best of club racing and top professional standards in the best way possible. Believe the hype, this place and this event is amazing and really is an experience like no other.
Want to see an ex F1 driver munching on a frankfurter – Check.
An ex DTM champion chatting with fans and signing body parts (both automotive and human!) – Check.
Top sportscar and rally stars shooting the breeze with young fans – Check.
A competing Porsche arriving back in the pits with it’s passenger door missing and then watching the team affix a new door with gaffer tape – Check.
It's a staggering event on an amazing scale – Go and see it before the world finds out about it and, inevitably, someone bans it to save us from ourselves!'
We hope that this article has inspired you to want to go and experience this very special event for yourself! Click here to see some video footage of the 2010 and 2011 races.
Why not go and see this spectacular event for yourself?
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