The history of the Nürburgring circuit is not essentially different from that of others that developed with the automobile industry from the XNUMXs and yet the Eifel natural park circuit in Germany (not to be confused with the engineer Eiffel) , has preserved all the natural attractions of its original layout, a characteristic that makes it incomparable with the rest of the historical circuits that have survived with great mutilations and adaptations for different reasons, especially for safety requirements.
What makes the Nürburgring truly unique It is its ability to adapt in respect of its essential characteristics since its creation. Thus, at the Nürburgring two tracks coexist: the original from 1925 (first races in 1927), known as the Nordschleife or north loop; and the new adjacent circuit built sixty years later. Both can work at the same time separately or, when connected, form a single circuit that adds its two perimeters.
Originally, the main objective of the race organization in Nürburg, named after the village of four houses where the circuit is located, was to promote employment, create jobs in an eminently forested region, deindustrialized and with little economic means to protect the population from emigration. Between the two world wars, Germany experienced the height of its automobile industry and one way to further its technological development was the fabulous test bed of competition.
To the west of the geographical axis Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz, Frankfurt, the situation of Nürburg made the circuit accessible to a large mass of population that could move during the time of a weekend, its economic viability was assured. This is proven by the 300.000 people who attended Nürburg races on average in the XNUMXs, attendance figures higher even than today.
The original circuit required relatively little refurbishment work, since it was made up of the existing county roads that were linked together. Hence the appellation "Ring", circle or circuit, was born, which was added to Nürburg, at first in two separate words: Nürburg-Ring, as it is written in the first programs of the late XNUMXs. This absence of an artificial design and the conservation of the district road layout it is what makes the Nürburgring incomparable to modern circuits.
If we cut the name of Nürburg in two (in Nür - burg), we will observe that "burg" in German means castle and, indeed, on the hill overlooking the region there is a medieval castle, the castle of Nür. For those who want to know everything, the Nürburgring would mean in Spanish the ring or the circuit around the castle of Nür.
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A dangerous asphalt
With the serious accident of Niki Lauda in 1976, an in-depth reform of the Nürburgring was proposed, considered too long for Formula 1 races - then with more than 22 km of track. Instead of destroying the originality of the Nordschleife, a new adjacent circuit was built, so that the old circuit could continue to be used in minor category races and historical events.
Onofre Marimón (1954), Peter Collins (1958) or Gerhard Mitter (1969) are just three examples of the many drivers who have left their skin on the asphalt of the Nürburgring. Nor have the classic activities of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix escaped the fatalities, since in 2008 Hans-Ruedi Portman joined the list of fatal accidents with his Ford Mustang.
Finding myself present on that unfortunate occasion, an icy silence settled over the press room when the race director read the official statement. Virtually no one could believe that classic car racing was subject to the same risks as modern car racing. And yet at the Nürburgring it goes fast and the competition is very close, even when it comes to racing with vehicles of yesteryear.
Low Spanish participation
Perhaps for this reason Spanish participation year after year is very limited, if not non-existent. From August 8 to 10, 2014, for the 42 AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, only the following drivers from our country registered:
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Joaquin Folch, in race 1 of the FIA Masters category, historic Formula 1 championship, driving a Brabham BT49C from 1981; in race 3 of the FIA Masters category, Historic Sport Car Championship, with a 40 Ford GT1965; and in race 6, for historic Grand Prix cars up to 1960, with the 250 Maserati 1956F;
William Iron, also in class 6 for historic Grand Prix cars up to 1960 (to be precise, sub-category from 1954 to 1958), also with a Maserati 250F from 1954; Y
Carles Barangé teaming up with Enrique Clúa, who participated in the Historic Marathon in a 356 Porsche 1964C.
In a very bulky program, in view of the endless lists of participants, we will mention only some of the categories to highlight, such as the following:
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Gentlemen Drivers (cars manufactured until 1965), with a large participation of Porsches 904 and 911, Ferrari 250 SWB or Alfa Romeo TZ;
Nürburgring Trophy, grouping different sub-categories by cylinder capacity, with cars manufactured between 1966 and 1976, for example, Porsche Carrera 2,7 and 3,0 RSR;
Revival, German championship, for vehicles manufactured between 1972 and 1981, such as De Tomaso Pantera, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW M1, Porsche 935, among others;
Sport and GT categories until 1961, where the Porsche 550 Spyder, Ferrari 500 Mondial, Jaguar D-Type or Maserati T61 stood out.
The timetable on the track is respected with the precision of the chronometer and the 13 scheduled races take place in marathon days as in an organized ballet of mechanics, pilots and equipment between the paddocks, caravans, trailers, workshops and the starting grid. The activity from 8 in the morning to 9:XNUMX at night does not stop for a moment.
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The viewer who wants it has a choice because more than an event, the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix is a succession of events, shows and multiple exhibitions. As it is physically impossible to go to several places at the same time and taking into account the considerable distances and time to be used in internal movements, it is highly advisable to acquire the official program, with schedules, activities and lists of participants, in order to make a previous selection.
The price of the tickets is 38,00 euros, with the right of access to the covered or uncovered grandstands and the paddock, but not to the boxes or the pit lane (line that delimits the border between the boxes and the area prior to track). It is possible to purchase VIP tickets at the price of 399,00 euros, valid for the entire weekend, including lunch at noon in the paddock area, coffee and cakes in the afternoon, buffet at dusk and soft drinks.
The spectator's day is full of activities, as long as they are willing to move and travel considerable distances between the grandstands, the paddock of the new circuit, the commercial area (inside the new buildings or outside in various areas of the circuit ), the historic paddock, which has been preserved and restored respecting its location and originality; and the large car parks reserved for clubs, the most important being those of Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren, listed from largest to smallest area in square meters.
It is also possible and interesting to take a walk through the outdoor car parks for the general public, populated by classic cars of all brands and conditions, as well as a jump to the Nordschleife, visiting places many kilometers apart, for which the use of of a car.
From 8 in the morning to 9 in the afternoon it is guaranteed that the motor racing fan will not have a moment of respite or boredom. Sports shoes and comfortable clothing are de rigueur, as well as being prepared for changes in the weather, going from sun and heat to torrential rains, changing conditions that can occur within hours.
Dive into the classics
Without further ado, let's move on to the analysis of the forty-second edition of the most traditional classic competition event in the world. With more than forty years behind him, no other circuit competition event comes close to it in tradition, organization or experience. We will start with the premier category, which both currently and in classic recreations is F1.
The historic FIA Master Formula 1 Championship has become a true setting that is the closest to real-world racing. To participate, an almost unlimited budget is necessary that includes not only the acquisition of a Formula 1 car that has participated in the world championship in its active life, but also the purchase or rental of the necessary equipment, including transport trucks, parts, salaries for engineers, technicians and mechanics, not to mention the important chapter on tires, registration and other overhead.
We disarm Formula 1
Access to the paddock and boxes gives us the opportunity to closely observe the work of the mechanics, the quasi-continuous cutting and rearming that Formula 1 cars are subjected to. In the photos in view of the readers, we present in their rawness , without the aerodynamic shell the following cars (hover over the image to see the caption or click to open the enlarged gallery):
We install the pilots
The installation of the pilots in the very narrow driving positions (cockpit) is laborious, considering that they are usually people of what we would call "certain age" and that they have gained quite a few kilos of weight since they were young. The help of two mechanics is necessary for the correct installation of the rider secured with the tight six-point seat belts. In the following sequence of photos, we install the steering wheel to:
As we cannot deal with the program in its entirety, since we would need the space of an encyclopedia in several volumes, we will deal with the races in which there was Spanish participation.
Our only representative in the premier class, FIA Masters, historic Formula 1 championship, Joaquín Folch, less bright than usual, He only qualified in fourth place in Saturday's race, with a better lap average of 163,515 km / h (compare with the best time of Hartley, first classified, much faster at 166,079 km / h). On Sunday, at the end of the second race, Folch was in seventh place, with a rather slow average of 124,502 km / h, which indicates the presence of rain.
We will highlight that in Friday's practice, Folch pitted longer than his rivals, asking for more aerodynamic support on the rear wing, a relatively simple intervention that his technicians took a long time to carry out.
In his participation in race 3 of Sport cars, despite having achieved better results on other occasions, Folch finished in the eleventh position, with a better average lap of 134,023 km / h, while the first classified, the Briton Martin O'Connel rolled at 147,284 km / h with his Chevron B19.
Regarding race 6 of historic Grand Prix cars up to 1960, two Spaniards took their places on the starting grid: the veteran Joaquín Folch and the neophyte Guillermo Fierro. Both, as has been said above, driving cars of the same make and model, each Maserati 250F, although from a different year of manufacture.
More experienced, Folch finished fifth in race one on Saturday, while Fierro finished ninth. Comparing their respective best lap times, Folch rolled at 126,770 km / h and Fierro at 123,912 km / h.
Regarding the second race the following day, the terms were reversed a bit as Fierro managed to finish in seventh place (fastest lap at 125,667 km / h), when Folch did not qualify.
Another participant in the same discipline, Julia Baldanza (or de Baldanza) speaks perfectly Spanish, but we cannot deduce her nationality by being registered as a resident of Great Britain. Julia participated with one of the most beautiful and well-maintained cars in its class, which was striking for its impeccable presentation to the last screw. It is a Maserati A6GCM from 1951, with which it circulated regularly in the last positions of its group, with best times of the order of 105,194 km / h.
We disassemble the winning engine
One of the star events of the weekend is undoubtedly the Historical Marathon which on this occasion had the participation of Carles Barangé and Enrique Clúa, with Porsche 356C. The difficult weather conditions on Friday afternoon, with heavy rains, would surely influence this team to qualify for a creditable second place in its class in Group R12, subcategory GT / GTS 10. Its fastest lap averaged 92,834 Km / h.
In contrast, we will observe that the absolute winners of the test, the Germans Marcus von Oeynhausen and Frank Stippler, drove their Jaguar E at speeds of 123,690 km / h.
The Historic Marathon is held on the Nordsleife, whose length is 20.793 meters and not on the new circuit, with a route of 4.638 meters, where all the other tests take place.
We take the opportunity to attend the engine dismantling of the winning Jaguar E. Mechanical interventions, even complex ones, were carried out in a few minutes, which shows the degree of training and specialization of the auxiliary teams, necessary if a good classification is to be achieved.
The permanent question posed to the viewer consists of deciding whether to attend the races from a grandstand, to walk for hours in the paddock or to follow in greater or less detail the numerous exhibitions that take place.
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Opel, Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Volkswagen, Audi, Jaguar, McLaren and a long list of brands, whether officially by museums, at the initiative of dealers or clubs and individuals , always have large representations.
We will mention the hybrid Porsche 919 exhibited by the Porsche Museum that, although it was not a real car with mechanics, it served to illustrate the aerodynamic work on the body. Its external appearance is the same as that of the cars with which the brand returned this year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For its part, Opel discovered a project for the manufacture of an Opel Corsa Spider, a secret dating from 1981 and which did not materialize with a chain production.