I have decided to split this up into more parts to make for slightly smaller entries in this series. It is all written, but would be very long to have to scroll though the whole thing so I figured I would make it easier to read by simply cutting it up into chunks. Here is chunk number two.
The next day dawned overcast and drizzly, but that wasn’t going to deter me from trying to conquer the mighty Nurburgring. We woke up early and headed down the street to the place where we had rented the car. The Ringhaus is currently run by a bunch of English chaps who are all very knowledgeable about the ‘Ring and have a great car rental service that lies about 300 yards from the entrance. It is supremely easy to get to anywhere you want to in Nurburg because the town is only a few hundred people large. Like most small German towns, it has some really nice scenery and is easy to proceed through as there is only one main road.
The road that runs 14.7 miles through the Eifel Mountains is a whole other story though. The day really was drizzly and that meant that there would be some slippery spots out there, and would essentially change the track into something totally different from what I had experienced in GT4. I have already said how there is nothing to prepare you for the elevation changes, but there is also nothing to prepare you for driving in the wet on the world’s scariest one-way road. And that is essentially what the ‘Ring is nowadays. It is treated as a one-way toll road and it costs about $30 to do a lap.
After smoothing out a little snafu that I won’t go into, we had time before we were to go out so we wandered around the car park at the track entrance. If ever there was a place to be a spectator, this is it. The sheer variety of automobilia that turns up is amazing. Almost every car from A-Z was there. Audi RS4s, BMW M cars, Lotuses (or is it Loti?), Mitsubishi Evos, Subaru STis, and of course Minis and Porsches. But I was there for one car and one car only: a Volkswagen Polo. I rented the lowest powered car because a) it cost the least, b) it was available for when we were there and c) it was a capable front-wheel drive vehicle that handled well and hopefully wasn’t going to end up in the guardrails.
We found our ‘Ring guide and he showed my dad and I the car then took my father out for a lap first. That was a long wait for me. You hope that they come back within ten minutes, but since I didn’t have a watch, I just ended up wandering around the car park looking at Nobles, S2000s and other such vehicles. When they got back, my dad couldn’t believe the ride. My turn was next and the hardest part was trying to fit into that godawfully tiny racing seat. Once I had secured myself, my guide took off. We chatted about the track some, but I really just tried to watch all of his inputs, shift points and turn ins to get a better idea of where to go. The first part of the lap, from the entrance to Tiergarten to Adenauer-Forst is pretty much exactly like it is in the game (except wet in this case). From there to the Karusell things get a little tricky. 7 kms of a lap are ok, but after that, your brain starts to go to mush. The trees rushing by all start to look the same and you just try to mark signs and corners that you remember from the game as you drive along. Although it is a remarkably long lap, it seems all too short when it is over. Coming out of Schwalbenschwanz and through Dottinger Hohe seems like you had just started the lap – especially if you never want it to end.
We got back to the car park and the instructor told me it was my turn. Well, it was finally time to man up and go for it. Luckily, the driver’s seat was much more comfortable than the passenger’s, so we were off to a good start. Secondly, I didn’t stall the car – check that off the list. And then we were on our way. The first thing I noticed was that the steering was not assisted and was very heavy, but in a good way that really communicated everything I wanted to know through the steering wheel. The second thing about the car was that the clutch take up was very light and that meant the car was exceedingly easy to drive at any speed. The last thing I noticed was that my hands and my feet were shaking slightly. This was a big deal, and it was finally coming true. I came up to the ticket station and handed my car to the man. The gate raised and I pulled onto the track…
That whole first lap is a blur, I have to be honest. I was fine for the first part, got a little lost in the second and the end came up all too soon. Of course, the other thing about the ‘Ring is that you are supposed to pull over to the right to let faster vehicles pass on the left, and that was a very timid lap for me and I was letting many people go through. My guide kept telling me to let them through on the straights and just worry about the corners for myself. That is good advise, but when you are concentrating on not crashing your rented car, trying to follow the winding forest road and trying to see through the fogged up windows to see if a Porsche or BMW wants to pass is a hard task to accomplish on the first lap.
After lap one, I was finished with my jitters. All I wanted was to get out and get lap two under my belt. My father was anxiously awaiting my arrival back at the car park and he was extremely happy to see that little black VW roll up without any scrapes on it. Lap two was much the same as the first and I was just happy to be able to push that much harder in some places, while letting the much faster vehicles pass me by. One thing I was thankful for was that because it was raining, I didn’t have to watch for motorcycles on the track; because those guys are scary. The lap was good, but when it was done, and because of a scheduling conflict, we had to give the car up for a couple of hours. But we would return that same day to get the rest of my laps in.