A Day at the 'Ring

By J.G. Pasterjak
May 15, 2015 | Posted in News and Notes | Never miss an article

You may have seen updates on our Nürburgring adventure on Facebook. Well, here’s the primer for those that don’t know the full scoop:

While the Nürburgring is on nearly every car guy’s bucket list, few people ever think they’ll have the chance to actually turn a wheel in competition there. Well, we found out it’s not only an attainable goal, but a downright realistic one thanks to a strong dollar, and companies like Race the Ring who specialize in taking American racers and letting them stretch their legs at the legendary track.

Race the Ring is an offshoot of Rotek Racing where Rob Holland, an old pal of ours, is one of the principals. Rob had been telling us forever what a good deal it was to race at the Nürburgring, so we finally called his bluff.

This past Thursday, we competed in Rotek Racing’s Audi RS4 in the RCN Series. The RCN is somewhat analogous to a NASA Time Trial in that drivers compete with the clock, not for track position. But there’s open passing, which is a good thing because there were over 180 cars entered in our event.

Multiple drivers are allowed, as a pit stop is mandatory during the 13-lap contest so driver changes are easy. We split our time with talented upcoming French racer Gilles Neve, and although neither of us had much experience at the Nürburgring, we managed to do pretty well.

Questions From the Floor

The full story on our adventure will be in an upcoming issue of Grassroots Motorsports, but for now, here are a few answers to the most popular questions we’re getting:

Q: What sort of license do I need to run at the Nürburgring?
A: For the RCN, you’ll need an FIA license or the equivalent. There are other paths, though. For Americans with an SCCA or NASA competition license, your license, plus a letter from your sanctioning bodies’ chief steward or licensing director stating that you’re not a lunatic and are fit to compete internationally will do the trick.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: Less than you think. For about the cost of renting a cheap Spec Miata in the US for a weekend Race-The-Ring can put you in a car on the greatest track in the world. Prices vary with currency rates, of course, but the dollar is currently strong. You’ll probably spend more on airfare for two than the actual cost of racing.

Q: What sort of gear will I need? Will mine be okay?
A: Maybe. You’ll need all the typical race gear: Suit, helmet, shoes, gloves, undies, balaclava (the Germans are serious about their balaclava use for everyone, not just the bearded), with one catch: All your gear must be FIA-spec. In the US, we’re used to all our gear being SFI-spec, but not necessarily FIA. Turns out our suit was not up to snuff, so we turned to racesuitrental.com for an FIA-approved suit before we left home.

Q: Can I learn the track from Gran Turismo?
A: You’d be surprised. Most of the current sims are a frighteningly accurate reproduction of the Nürburgring. They’re excellent practice to learn the rhythm, flow, and visuals of the track. What they absolutely can’t prepare you for is the visceral experience of the elevation changes, the road camber, the bumps, the terrifying narrowness, or any of the other million or so sensory inputs that your brain is trying to process. But as a tool for not getting lost, yes, they work quite well.

Look for our complete report in an issue of GRM later this summer. Don't want to miss it? Subscribe here.

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View comments on the GRM forums
WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/16/15 12:54 p.m.

Glad to hear it went well,I've been waiting for an update (I know you couldn't spell it all out on here, need content and all)!

TRoglodyte SuperDork
5/16/15 8:33 p.m.

Overall ranking? How many diapers did the birdman fill? If you didn't scare yourself have your mancard ready stateside Drink a German beer for us poor souls please?

trlwnc New Reader
5/20/15 4:42 p.m.

Can't wait to hear more! Sounds awesome!

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