A Visit to the Nurburgring on the School Trip to Germany 1959
in the romantic and peaceful district of the Eifel is the Nurburgring, the
famous European motor racing track. Not only is it a famous racing track
but a unique tourist road. The school party, led by Mr. Ingamells and Mr.
Pey, arrived at the track in a forty-one seater Mercedes Benz coach, which
gleamed in the brilliant summer sunshine as we stopped to pay our admission
fee. The road is 16.6 miles (28.265 Km.) in length and has altitudes varying
by a thousand feet or more, with up-hill gradients of 1 in 6 and downhill
gradients of 1 in 9. The longest straight is five eighths of a mile (1Km.)
and it is this straight that we drove along first.
As we proceeded along it we saw the unique feature of the Nurburgring, the Dunlop electrically operated sign which gives the positions of the various contestants at four different points, i.e. Quiddelbacher Hohe (heights), Wehrseifen, Karussell (the Roundabout) and Schwalbe Schwanz (Swallow Tail). This sign has been nicknamed “the eye of the Nurburgring” for obvious reasons.
We passed the grandstand on the Promenadenplatz with its “Tribune” sports hotel, which can accommodate 2500 spectators. The pits which we passed on our journey, present a scene of great excitement on race days with the spectators in a frenzy. After the buildings had been left behind us, we proceeded along the track which led us into some of the most beautiful countryside that I have ever seen.
Suddenly the hum of the coach’s engine and the tranquillity of the countryside were disturbed by the roar of motor car engines. We all turned our heads to see two cars flashing past us on what I thought to be on the wrong side. Later I realised that it was the right side for Germany. The coach was going at 60 m.p.h. and the two Porsche cars which overtook us must surely have been exceeding 100 m.p.h.
The coach never seemed to be doing anything but turning corners on the country part of the circuit. I looked up the details of the circuit afterwards and I found that there are eighty-nine left turns and eighty-five right turns. Nevertheless we easily spotted the Karussell or roundabout; this curve is the narrowest and has a radius of a hundred and five feet (32 M.). The width of the track at the start and finish is 65.61 feet (20 M.) but where we were it was 26.3 feet (8 M.). This track, therefore, demands the utmost of any driver. It is safe and can be described as foolproof, as long as you don’t drive along in the wrong direction. Our Guide Herr Schmidt, mentioned some of the famous drivers who frequent this track. Here are a few of them: Stirling Moss; Von Trips; Fangio; Peter Brooks and Jean Behra.
The track takes its name from Nurburg castle, the ruins of which have recently been restored. The castle was originally the seat of the Counts of Are but during the course of time it changed hands many times before it was destroyed during the Thirty Years War. The district which surrounds the Nurburgring is the Eifel, which is volcanic in origin. This is proved by many crater lakes, called locally ”Maars” and we later visited one of these lakes on the trip to Maria Laach Abbey. The Eifel remained unknown and unappreciated for many years despite its attractions and the richness of its scenic beauty. There is no other hill country in Western Germany with such a varied character and such contrasting scenery.
Lastly I think I should mention the members of the staff in charge of the party. Both Mr. Ingamells and Mr. Pey richly deserve our heartfelt thanks for an enjoyable trip.
N Walsh 4B
Editor’s Note: Could the Herr Schmidt referred to by the author be the present day Sabine’s father?