Nuerburgring — experience The Green Hell

by Misha Charoudin
Contributing writer

The Nuerburgring, also known as The Green Hell, has fascinated, invoked infatuation and has even claimed the ultimate price from men and women alike for the past 90 years. It is likely that you have heard of the dreams both realized and crushed, the myths and the drama that this track has brought upon men since its creation, some fabricated and yet some starkly real.

Yes, it is the largest, most challenging and widely seen as the most exciting race track in the world, its lure however is far more than this alone and can hardly be put into words.

Photo by Scott Sanders /

The track was built in 1927 as a race and testing ground for motorized vehicles, a purpose that hasn’t changed to this day. What has changed is the relatively simple access to the facility for motor enthusiasts from the world over. This attraction, which through the rise of the digital age has become its most important and profitable aspect, is what the Nuerburgring is best known for today. While the last F1 race on Nordschleife (Nuerburgring’s northern circuit) was held back in 1976 when a near-fatal crash of Niki Lauda brought to light the increasing dangers of running ever faster cars with little to no limitation, the track, however, still hosts several popular racing series such as Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, World Endurance Championship and Nuerburgring’s own VLN endurance series. Most notably of course is the world-famous 24 hours of Nuerburgring which attracts up to 500.000 dedicated fans from all over the world for a week of partying and racing.

What separates “the Ring” from other race tracks is the ability to go drive on it yourself in any street-legal vehicle on an everyday basis during the so-called “Touristenfahrten,” (tourist driving).  The Nuerburgring Nordschleife is considered to be a public toll-road that you can access for 25 euro Monday-Thursday or 30 euro Friday-Sunday (excluding race and event dates). This allows you to drive on the same stretch of 21-km long tarmac where F1 legends like James Hunt and Alberto Ascari gained immortal fame. But unlike them you do not need a multi-million dollar Formula 1 car, you can satisfy your thrills in your everyday grocery getter or even a minivan. In case you want to go faster than your own car allows or you want to improve your driving skills and track knowledge, Companies like Apex Nuerburg are there to make your trip complete. Located at Hauptstrasse 25, just 800 meters from the entrance to the Nordschleife, Apex Nuerburg offers track rentals ranging from road cars to fully prepped track cars, passenger laps in track prepared supercars, as well as professional instruction for people ranging from first timers to aspiring race drivers. They also offer a hotel and lounge for those wanting to stay overnight and get immersed in the full experience. Best of all, they even offer rooms suitable for families that want the ultimate convenience of home!

Fortunately, for those who may be satisfied with just a lap or two, those who want to bring family and others who may simply desire to enjoy sightseeing, the 21 kilometers of the Nordschleife winds through Germany’s breathtaking Eifel region which is filled with spectacular landscape, castles and wineries. Whether it is the well-preserved Eltz castle, the rebuilt Cochem castle or the ruins of the Nuerburg castle, you and your family will have a great time filled with history and education. In case you are a less-adventurous and historical type and would like to enjoy your day off in complete rest and relaxation, the nearby volcanic lake “Laacher See” is the place to go. Of course Nuerburgring itself has also a wide range of activities for families such as go-kart center, motorsport museum and an off-road park.

A trip from Kaiserslautern to the “petrolhead’s paradise” is easy to make via a 1 1/2 hour drive northbound via the a-62 to the A1. When your schedule allows you to, it is highly advised to stay a night or even more to really soak in all that the area has to offer and most importantly, don’t forget that a Ring trip is not complete without visiting the fan shop to purchase a Nuerburgring sticker for the back of your personal, daily driven and now Nordschleife-proven race car.