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tertius
31-08-2007, 08:34 AM
A rather tardy trip report: 8-12 August, 75Experience and a full weekend

This was my second trip to the 'ring. On the first nearly a year ago, I had taken my own car (Porsche 993) but due to the onerous requirements of the stag weekend had only driven five laps and passengered about seven or eight. This time the plan was to do some serious learning of the circuit. Accordingly I decided not to take my own car, but to fly out, do the 75Experience with Ron Simons, and then stay over the weekend, driving a suitable hired car courtesy of rent-racecar.de.

My pics from the trip are here: http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Nurburgring...lbum/index.html (http://www.tertius.me.uk/pages/Nurburgring_Aug2007/album/index.html)

After much soul searching a couple of mates finally committed to do the 75Experience with me on Thursday 9th August - a Zakspeed Exclusive day - and one, Paul, planned to stay 'til Sunday as well. This was the weekend of the Old Timer GP, so the rough timetable was: travel Weds; pre-course briefing Weds night; 75Experience Thurs; spectate at Old Timer Friday; Sat and Sun TF driving.

Colin and I flew out, BA to Frankfurt on Weds morning, whilst Paul drove his Impreza. Flight, collection of hire cars (a diesel Fiat Brava each for me and Colin, which Colin thought was lovely (not)) and drive to the circuit all uneventful, except the BMW parked upside down in the fence on the side of the autobahn. A good effort I thought, hope everyone was OK but the structure looked pretty sound.

On arrival at the circuit it was open for TF and we saw Paul's distinctive mouthwash green Impreza as we drove in. A little asking around and we found Ron, who was fairly busy instructing a couple of chaps over from the UK to race in the Old Timer GP.

(Pics from Weds night, are numbers 01 to 06 in the link above.)

As we waited I dropped a couple of hints and Paul stepped up manfully, bought a lap ticket and took us round in a quite tidy lap in his Impreza (his second trip also).

Ron then found us, and said right guys jump in I'll give you a sighting lap. So we got in his white Alfa 75 and we were off. Oh my god! Undoubtedly the fastest and most accomplished lap I have ever experienced - fast, smooth and mainly sideways - if you ever get a chance to have a lap with Ron jump at the chance.

I shall pass over the accommodation shenanigans, enough to say we finally resolved where we were staying, together with one of the Brits being instructed earlier, Robert, who proved to be delightful company, and was driving a lovely Aston (pic 09).

However, I will say that the restaurant (Stelleworks I think) in the village (Monreal) was fantastic - really superb and if you fancy a change from Pinnochios or the PK then its worth the 25 minute drive. At the restaurant we had a brief session on driving the 'ring; etiquette; safety and so on.

Next day it was the 75Experience and the weather was shit. It was wet, misty and generally vile. We met up at Ron's premises in Dottingen, signed more forms explaining how much we would pay when we crashed, had a one-way conversation about did we want the rear ARBs disconnected (yes please) and got allocated cars: I was driving with Robert; Colin and Paul were together.

The format for the 75Experience is that two people share a car, so you are always driving or passengering; the day starts with "convoy" driving following the instructor (Ron) in a short crocodile of cars (5 cars on our day); Ron has a radio and the driver (only) has an earpiece so can hear the instructions regarding line, gear, approaching traffic etc.. Robert and I quickly agreed that the driver would repeat everything that Ron was saying so that the passenger could also benefit. Ron's ability to drive, talk, watch his mirrors, provide advice to cars behind, warn of approaching traffic and I'm told drink coke and talk on a mobile phone all at the same time is quite phenomenal.

Because of the weather the instruction was very focused on the wet line, and was incredibly useful, though in truth I didn't really recognise until the weekend quite how good it was and how much I had learned. Because it was an exclusive day (effectively a track day) there was relatively little traffic (maybe 100 cars total on the day); no buses and no bikes. However, also because it was an exclusive day there was no requirement for the cars to be road legal so there quite a number of full-on VLN race cars, driving very fast indeed, who would come past making a noise like a train throwing up walls of spray - absolutely terrifying. There were also a lot of crashes, including a grey Ferrari (360 or 430) that crashed heavily on Kesselchen during the convoy driving. And, later in the day, to my great dismay a 993 GT2 that tore off its front PU in the gravel trap at Aremberg.

After a couple of hours of convoy driving we were then free to drive at our own pace, swapping over every couple of laps. Ron himself focused on coaching a couple of people and there were two other instructors (Ed and Brendan) available if required. There was a long-ish closure around lunchtime, bit other than that Robert and I had a solid and really rather uneventful day, each driving and passengering about 10 laps.

One further incident on the day remains to be reported - my mate Paul (whom I'd met on my previous trip and not actually seen since) had a bit of an off and arrowed his Alfa 75 straight into the armco at Schwalbenschwanz - I suspect he has a pretty big bill coming.

You can read his blog here: http://paulhollingsworth.com/Articles/Nurb...rgring2007.html (http://paulhollingsworth.com/Articles/Nurburgring2007/Nurburgring2007.html)

Oh and one of the other guys on the course also had an incident at Tiergarten and managed to write off his 75. So of five cars two were down. However, Ron who appears to own a material percentage of the extant Alfa 75s on the planet (at least 40 i would say) quickly rustled up some replacements.

All too quickly the session was over and the track closed ready for TF that evening. At first I was somewhat disappointed, I'd only driven 10 laps and I'd rather imagined I might drive 25 or something. However, in those conditions and at that level of concentration intensity, actually it was enough. And when I came to drive the circuit again at the weekend, I realised they had been unbelievably valuable laps. Overall I would thoroughly recommend the 75Experience, the organisation was a bit poor, but the course and the instruction were superb. The cars are well prepared (cage, buckets, etc.) and perfectly setup for the 'ring. They aren't super powerful but in the right hands, boy are they fast. It was so good that I would even do it again, though I would definitely recommend doing an Exclusive day rather than a TF day.

Friday, as we all know, vile wet and misty (pics: 7-20 taken in the pits) - all racing cancelled. It was so dull I went to Cochem. Paul unfortunately decided to head home after his crash the day before, and Colin had already had to leave to get back to London so I was left on my tod.

Saturday AM I went straight to Brunnchen to catch the last of the free practice before the circuit opened for TF - pics 21-27.

Right after that I picked up my track car from rent-racecar.de - I had deliberately selected the slowest, cheapest, most like the 75 car I could find - so BMW 318ti it was. I highly recommend rent-racecar: Theo and Heidi were incredibly helpful, and really nice people. The 318 was nicely setup, fully caged, two bucket seats (NB the passenger seat doesn't move and its set for shorties) and 6-point harnesses). Again clearly not straight line quick (only 150bhp or thereabouts), but well balanced and corners well, in experienced hands I think it could do a reasonable lap.

I was lucky enough to meet a chap in the (huge) queue for tickets, who was over with a crowd from England and they very kindly adopted me for the weekend so I had some company, as well as a couple of very instructive passenger laps.

I headed out pretty quickly and was pleasantly surprised to find I was starting to know the circuit reasonably well: I knew what was coming up and knew approximately where I should be. I reckon another 2-300 laps and I might be quite competent :)

Although it was incredibly busy in the car park (pics 28-33) it was relatively quiet in the circuit

Over the two days, brilliant weather throughout, I drove 21 laps which including to-ing and fro-ing amounted to exactly 507km on the 318ti - 7km over my allowance, which I was forgiven by Heidi.

It was then straight back into the hire car to Frankfurt and home.

All in all a great trip, and I would unreservedly recommend the 75Expoerience and rent-racecar.de. In fact considering the uncertainty around UK insurance and the 'ring I'm seriously wondering whether to bother taking my own car again but simply to hire each time.

Dan

Jim Cameron
31-08-2007, 09:14 AM
Ron - hugely talented but a bit disorganised?

I don't believe it! :lol: :thumb:

Nice report, I got out on the 11th in red E30 335 - think I saw you on track a couple of times. Bothe Ed and Ron were still talking about their destructive group during the Zakspeed day - you lot obviously made an impression!

Welcome, by the way :D

tertius
31-08-2007, 09:23 AM
Cheers!

Did Ed happen to mention that he was in both the cars when they crashed ... ?

Jim Cameron
31-08-2007, 09:39 AM
Yeah, Ron mentioned that too... :lol:

Ed_
31-08-2007, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by tertius@Aug 31 2007, 11:23 AM
Cheers!

Did Ed happen to mention that he was in both the cars when they crashed ... ?
Would have been a third during Touristenfahrt later in the day, but I gave that student to Bren.

Weeman
31-08-2007, 11:25 AM
You must have balls like melons or nerves of steel Ed :lol:

p1doc
03-09-2007, 11:42 AM
nice write up,almost tempted myself
martin