PDA

View Full Version : Diary of first trip and some recommendations



Longers
28-08-2007, 12:04 PM
Hi all,

The following will appear in various forums (here, pistonheads.com, ringersforum.com) so apologies if you end up seeing it more than once. However, while organising the trip I used all of these forums and http://www.nurburgring.org to find info so want to share my own experiences to assist others in future. Also, it’s my diary of the whole epic weekend, not just our time at Da Ring, so it’s a bit long........!!!!

Friday 17th Aug finally arrived and at 3pm we left Uppingham (half way between Leicester & Peterborough). Unfortunately with my copilot (LJ) I had to make a detour via Daventry to collect some silencers for the TVR, just in case the strict noise limits at the Ring were a problem. We got badly held up on the M25 - what a surprise at 5.30pm on a Friday - so were gagging for a beer by the time we got to our hotel in Folkestone at 8pm.

Through the evening we met the others there; a Porsche Boxster S, an
Audi TT and a Lotus Elise.

What was planned as an early night before the following days big drive wasn't - I'm not actually sure what time it was we got back to the hotel after the fab curry, and I'm not actually sure what time it was LJ fell over my bed in the middle of the night on his way to the toilet (no point asking him about it cos he doesn't even recall falling over!)

Saturday morning greeted us with grey skies but the roof's were taken off and we headed for the channel tunnel. I hit the brakes when we missed the turning and I was pleased to say that this revealed the new uprated discs & pads on the TVR worked a treat. This sudden halt also revealed that the brakes were not quite as good on Carolines Elise, but importantly she stopped just before the back of my TVR had a Lotus badge stuck to it.

Once off the train Chief Navigator Johnson showed us the CiteEurope shopping centre before deciding the autoroute to Brussels was a better option. The further we drove the better the weather got.

After a sandwich break we arrived at the track at Spa mid afternoon. Our surprisingly cheap tickets included VIP parking in the paddock - but how to find it? No need to worry. As we pulled up at the gate a guy on a moped shouted "are voos Meester Longden?" and he led our 4 cars through the mass people, race cars, team trucks and associated "stuff" to our designated parking area inside the first hairpin.

That left us some time to watch the support racing until 4.30pm when Paul & I would be taking our cars out onto the famous circuit for 2 laps behind the pace car. Surprisingly there were only 13 cars that had paid the 40 Euros to do this, all Corvettes and Porsches, apart from one Alpha Romeo Spider and the TVR. We threaded our way back through the paddock to the old pit exit at the bottom of Eau Rouge. The TVR attracted lots of interest and LJ was ready with the camera to get some shots on the way round.

Although it was a steady speed behind the pace car we let it go ahead a couple of times so that we could "have a play" and catch up. I couldn't believe how steeply the track went up and down, not just at the famous Eau Rouge. The laps ended too quickly, but it was great experience.

After the classic endurance race we headed for the hotel in Liege. Once in Liege the 4 cars ended up taking 3 different routes as it was a pig to find, but we all got there at about the same time, checked in and headed out for beer, food and....erm....more beer!

The 2am finish meant we decided NOT to get to the track for the first race at 8.40 on Sunday morning! Because his company were suppliers, once we got to the track Rob was able to blag us access to the Chamberlain garage and from there the whole pit lane. It was unbelievable that we were able to stand so close to the cars as they sped out to the grid. It was also a bit worrying that the fully fireproof suited Panoz mechanic refuelled right next to us.....

The 6 hours of the Le Mans Series race were spent walking round the whole circuit. The views are fabulous due to the undulating terrain, and the paths / facilities etc for spectators excellent. After the race it was Liege again, beer, food, beer etc (spot the trend here....?!)

Monday morning was a relaxed start and we headed for Da Ring, about 2hrs drive away from Liege. Great navigating by LJ using the latter stages of this http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/directions/calais/index.html got us there without any dramas, apart from a broken boot release cable on the Lotus and a problem with the brake light on the TVR. Strange how both of the British cars had minor problems but the Germans didn't.....! Ian V jumped in a fixed both issues: a shoe lace and some gaffa tape for the Lotus and a cleaned connector, then new fuse and bulb needed for TVR.

One word of caution – the first 3 or 4 miles of road coming out of Eupen was the worst “road” I’ve ever been on and, given a choice, we would not go that way again.

Excitement and nerves increased in equal measures the closer we got to Nurburg…..

We arrived at Da Ring early afternoon and the carpark was packed with cars & bikes waiting to go out for a private session. We watched the cars go out - from highly tuned Porsches, ex-rally & race cars to track prepared mk1 Golf's etc. While the others had lunch LJ & I decided to go and find the replacement fuse we needed for the TVR. One tip, if you’re not going on track immediately and the carpark looks busy take the opposite turning off of the roundabout where you’ll find a large overflow parking area.

I had met a guy called Nige through ringersforum.com when looking for info to help plan the trip. While LJ & I were outside of the garage getting the fuse a car stopped and the guy said "hello, are you Ian?" It appears that not that many black G Reg TVR S2's go to Da Ring! We arranged to meet in the carpark at 5pm for the public track session that started at 5.15pm.

We found the fuse without a problem so headed for some lunch and to check out the track from some of the other spectator areas. At this point it started to drizzle..... We came out of the carpark, turned right at the roundabout, right again under the track then right onto the main and found a service station on our left where superb bratwurst and chips we devoured. We walked across the road and went up the bank through the bushes to see the bikes hammering down the final straight - wow!

Using this guide http://www.northloop.co.uk/photography.htm we decided to drive across the middle of the circuit, which itself is a great bit of road, and ended up at Breidscheid. What the pic's don't convey is how steep the track came down hill, before turning left over the bridge then left again uphill into the trees before a blind right hander at the crest. For the first time all weekend we went quiet as the excitement was giving way to nerves, especially as it started to rain at this point!

Our nerves were not helped by the sight of a "broken" bike leaving the circuit on the back of a lorry when we met the others, including Nige and his stripped out fully rollcaged and tuned golf, back at the carpark at 5pm. By this time the drizzle was intermittent, but the benefit was that were wouldn't be many fast bikers on the track trying to get past us.....

Nige suggested following him round otherwise there'd be sections where we had no idea where the track (or the grip) was! Ian V jumped in the passeger seat of the golf and the TVR with me at wheel, Porsche and Lotus followed him out. Nige kept to a reasonable pace and slowed down if any of us started to fall back. Parts of the lap were damp, parts were dry and parts very wet! Paul struggled on his worn Porsche tyres but we all made it back safely and exhilarated.

After a cooling down period in the car park (for us and the cars!), Nige went out again with just the TVR behind him this time with LJ at the wheel. LJ's only experience of the light powerful rear wheel driven TVR was driving to Spa and Nurburg on motorways and country roads in the dry and by this time the whole track was wet...... I kept an eye on the mirrors for anything faster coming up behind us so that he could concentrate on keeping it on the black stuff in a straight line! He drove a great lap behind Nige, until about 3 corners from the end when he put a bit much power on for the wet and the back end gently came round one way, then the other. He gathered it together well and headed back, slowly, to the carpark at the end of the lap. Once in the carpark he told me that his legs had gone to jelly as he tried to reverse the car into a parking space!

While LJ headed to the bar to calm his nerves with Paul I went out for a flying lap as a passenger in the golf. ***** HELL - and that was a wet lap!!!!!

Nige pointed out Dale when he appeared in an MX5 and suggested I go for a ride with him. ****** HELL ****** HELL again!!!! Unlike Nige's conventional fast track driving style, Dale prefers to drive like a rally star and has the car sliding around with the poise and control of Torvill and Dean. An awesome experience!!!!!

Nige & Dale have done countless laps between them this year so know their way round the place extremely well. Without them we wouldn't have got half us much from the visit as we did. And thanks to “Mrs Nige” we got some pics of us on track.

I’ve no idea what my lap times were and I don’t really care. For me it was about driving smoothly, enjoying it and getting the car (and us!) back to the carpark in one piece.

Full of energy we went to our hotel http://www.am-tiergarten.de/en/home/ to retell our tales and to have dinner and the obligatory beers in the famous pistenklause here http://www.am-tiergarten.de/en/restaurant/ which is full of motoring memorabilia and I imagine a fair amount of bull***t judging by the banter we could overhear! This was confirmed by the speed LJ claimed he was going in the TVR when the back end stepped out got higher and higher with each beer! 7 fillet "steaks on stones" and several beers later, for the first time on the trip we actually got to bed on the same day we got out of bed in the morning - just!

My worst fear for the long drive home Tuesday was the forecasted rain. I needn't have worried - the early sun was breaking through the mist / low cloud and we were soon on our way home.

Because of the “road” at Eupen we came back on a more southerly route by turning left in Blankenheim, then heading to the motorway at Malmedy. The roads were largely empty, very smooth with flowing bends that enabled “swift” progress.

Apart from stationary traffic on the motorway near Dunkirk, Paul running on fumes in his Porsche, getting caught in a downpour on the M20 with the roof in the boot and making one hell of a noise in the Dartford tunnel is was an uneventful drive back!

At 6pm Tuesday after 1199 miles at an average of approx 21.9 miles per gallon, we were back in Uppingham.

What a trip - I can't wait until the next one!!!!

My lasting impressions of Da Ring? Relentless. I couldn't believe that each time I saw the board saying 9km gone so far I thought "is that all?!" I now fully understand why it has the nickname of "the green hell". And what must it be like to drive the 24hrs race there? Only one proper straight, no flat bits and cars of different classes/speeds all trying to be on the same bit of narrow road without any proper run off's...... in the dark!! Hopefully one day I'll get a chance to go back and watch it to find out!

The closeness of Spa makes it easy to combine both places if you have sufficient time and somewhere I thoroughly recommend going to watch some racing. However, you might want to maximise your time at Nurburg and go straight there. We were only at Da Ring for one evening session and the time flew by! Also, going for a 2 or 3 day visit would give you more chance of a dry track, although I’m happy that we were there on a Monday evening because it was not as busy as it would be over a weekend.

I’ve seen lots of threads suggesting jumping in with someone who knows their way round for a fast lap. However, I strongly suggest following them in your own car first. Yes, it’s still going to take you a l o n g time to learn the circuit but you’ll be able to go a lot faster a lot quicker by following someone else, at your own speed, than you will by trying to find your way round on your own.

Also, don’t bother to queue to pay the 19Euros for each lap – there is a machine by the door to the ticket office that nobody seemed to be using but it worked perfectly well.

LJ at the wheel, in a straight line, on the way home……

http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/940/dsc025601zb4.jpg

Cheers!
Ian

Duncan
28-08-2007, 12:12 PM
Nice write up, you can really re-live that first trip experience :D

Simon
28-08-2007, 12:18 PM
^^
Seconded. Glad that you all enjoyed yourselves :thumb:

bad_roo
28-08-2007, 12:33 PM
I've done many laps of the Ring but still sometimes get the old shakey leg when I cruise back down the finsih straight! Nice review.

IanHowell
28-08-2007, 05:26 PM
Nice write up :thumb:

Agree with your recommendations ;)

Any more photos to add?

Ian

Longers
29-08-2007, 12:30 PM
http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/4807/dsc3105ul7.jpg

Didn't get many pic's at the Ring due to not much time and rubbish weather :( but did get 100's from the rest of the weekend :D

Gary Kinghorn
29-08-2007, 12:33 PM
I had an S3 myself a few years back........... Loved the old girl :thumb:

Weeman
29-08-2007, 12:35 PM
Did you sell it when you got round to waxing your hairy arse?? You couldn't pay me to take one of those round :lol:

Great report

Gary Kinghorn
29-08-2007, 12:37 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v501/tvr400/Other%20cars/car1.jpg

Weeman
29-08-2007, 12:41 PM
Brave man :lol:

jon_r
29-08-2007, 01:28 PM
Nice write up!

Nige
29-08-2007, 02:16 PM
Thanks for sharing Ian. As I said to you, its hard to recapture that `first trip` excitement once you`ve been, so its good to share. Glad you had a good time, I know you were all buzzing at the end of the evening :thumb:

Longers
29-08-2007, 04:00 PM
Nige, if you think we were buzzing when we left the track you should have seen us by the time we'd finished our steaks and "a few" beers in Pistenklause!

Cheers, Ian