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The Green Hell

Us motorsports fans have our set of niches, opinions, and most of all, passions, but I have never in the past five or so years of following it heard a single soul talk down upon the Nurburgring Nordschleife. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone exclaim a slight sense of disdain for even one of the corners on this beautiful 13+ mile circuit carved into the dense Eifel Forest of West Germany. This track can simply be described as a roller coaster, including 73 challenging turns, each unique in their own manner. This forces drivers to push their abilities to the absolute limit both physically and mentally, as one simple slip up could lead to disaster, with only a few feet separating the track from the unforgiving guardrails. Though it has a notorious reputation for ending both cars and in an unfortunate case the driver’s life, the track poses itself as a fun challenge to those who decide to take it on. Whether that be in a stock road car or an FIA rated GT3 race car it is still known to have caught even the most experienced drivers off guard. As an avid sim racer, I have had the pleasure of completing many laps around this historic circuit in the virtual world and strive to take what I have learned into reality. With all this being said, I’d like to take you through a lap of one of the most exquisite pieces of road ever created just in case any of you end up visiting this track in the future or are interested to see what the greatest race track in the world holds.

Start of the Lap

This marathon of a lap begins with a short run out of the final right-hander, leading up to the first corner, a cambered, slow left which leads into quite a quick downhill series of corners. We soon end up at a series of turns known as “Hatzenbach” which really tests the agility of the car and requires both a balance of commitment and control, a pretty common theme throughout the entirety of the track.

As you can tell from the image, a proficient level of car control is needed to navigate and place your car in the right place at the right time to get through as quickly as possible in order to get a rapid exit up the hill shown in the background of the picture. This then leads to one of the most terrifying corners on the track that has, sadly, taken the lives of many spectators.

Flugplatz down to Aremberg then Down a Hole

“Flugplatz”, translated to English as air field is definitely a fitting name for this brutally terrifying blind right hander at the top of the hill. The name has stuck over the years since cars tend to go airborne for a split second right before the corner with the steep elevation being put to an end by an almost immediate flattening of the asphalt surface. As drivers come through the right hander with their hearts in their mouths they are then led into a series of elevation changes in the somewhat short blast towards Aremberg.

As a medium speed downhill right hander, Aremberg tends to catch many drivers off guard, mainly due to them misjudging the braking point and running wide (This is because there is a blind cresting fast left right before). Fortunately though, there is quite a large runoff area if you do in fact end up missing the turn.

As you can see from the exit of Aremberg in the top right, it is important to get a good exit out of the corner in order to carry plenty of speed into another extremely terrifying part of the track known as Fox Hole, an almost roller-coaster-like bunch of turns that has put my virtual cars into the barrier many times due to it being riddled with invisible, unforgiving bumps. When drivers reach the bottom of the hill, it quickly rises again leading to an immense amount of g-forces felt on the way up. Truly a physical experience.

Adenauer + More Sketchy Corners

Be prepared to gradually ease off the power and onto the brakes for the uphill section as a blind left-right combination awaits at the top of the hill which forms into some of the tightest corners on the track. Quite a few accidents can be found here on youtube as many people just aren't able to get their vehicles slowed down in time for these deceptive set of turns. Shown towards the bottom right is an R34 carrying just a little too much speed into the complex and going into a slide.

Following is a set of medium speed left handers (known as Metzgesfeld) that most people don't really think about but can be nasty if taken in the wrong fashion (i.e. using too much of the inside kerbs can upset the cars balance). Next up, Kallenhard, one of the most deceptive downhill right hand corners on the track, especially for those who do not expect it. What makes this corner difficult completely comes down to a new driver’s mentality. Since it goes on for so long many newcomers expect it to quickly open up, BUT… it ends up tightening just at the very end and has the possibility of putting your car into the outside barrier if you're not paying close attention.

Kallenhard tightens pretty hard.

When I say sketchy, I really mean what I say for the next set of turns known informally as Pif-Paf or Miss-Hit-Miss (referring to the three apexes included in the long and fast right hander). This again poses a challenge for both your car and yourself as the car’s grip level is sent to its absolute limit if you have the bravery to pursue the corner at the said limit. What also makes this area difficult is the extremely tight left hairpin (shown below) right at the end which requires the drivers to regain themselves mentally in order to brake early and avoid locking their tires up especially since it’s downhill.

Run-Up to One of the Most Famous Corners

After the hairpin, the general flow of the track tends to make the drive quite pleasant with a few chilled out corners like Exmule and Ausfahrt opening up into a short shoot in the lead up to Bergwerk. A deceptive, moderately tempoed right, this corner shares similarities to Aremberg and Kallenhard as it can catch those off guard who dare to brake just a fraction too late or get on the gas a bit too early. It is crucial to get a solid exit out of this corner though since it opens up into yet another series of flat out corners (Kesselchen, Klostertal, and Mutkurve: known to sim racers as bravery corner due to its daring nature).

The exit of Bergwerk into Kesselchen (the right hander)

It’s not a bad idea to stay prepared afterwards as another very tight hairpin known as Steilstrecke awaits. Like previous turns, it’s best to take this right hander tentatively since it looks quite open, but tightens at the exit. Now to one of the most famous and unique corners on the circuit, The Carousel. This long banked left stays tight for quite a while and in most cases should be avoided (the inwardly banked part) if you are driving a relatively low car. Those who wish to keep their suspension intact opt for the outside line, driven on a flat surface that continues with the curve.

Mutkurve in the top right, leading into the hairpin, plus the short shoot to the Carousel
The Carousel (banked on the inside)

Now It Gets a Bit Nutty

The chilled-out uphill section towards Hohe Acht is just there to prime you for the assault of one of the most amazing sections of race track on the planet, as it puts both driver and machine to the ultimate test. The rapid downhill plunge after the following corner (Hedwigshohe) leads into another two of my favorites, called Wippermann and Brunnchen, two quick double right handers requiring a hefty shot of commitment.

Entry to Wippermann
The Double Right
Bunnchen Entry
Double Right Again

From the images you can see that both these complexes are pretty much the same with Brunnchen being a little less forgiving and more difficult to drive properly according to my experiences. A common theme throughout this track is that all the corners seem to flow as one and this is no exception as this series of corners seem to almost flow into one another, again making this one of the greatest tracks of all time.

Now we truly get crazy as we head down into Pflanzgarten, a steep downhill that leads into an almost immediate fast right. Cars are known for going airborne here similarly to Flugplatz due to the sudden dropoff in road surface.

It’s extremely important to keep the car balanced out of the right hander following the jump in order to keep plenty of speed going for the subsequent complex called Sprunghugel. It’s relatively similar to Fox Hole but thankfully, not directly downhill. An advanced level of car control is required here in order to keep it on the road and in one piece while zooming through.

At the end a sketchy left-right complex awaits, leading into the 2nd Carousel which is not as severe as the first but provides an aid to the track's diminishing flow from the slower corners as the inside camber tends to pull the car in with ease.

The End

Finally, just one more turn until the long back straight, but it happens to be a tricky one to get right. Galgenkopf is the name and it starts as a shallow banked right but suddenly becomes a tight one in which the exit is heavily emphasized in order to carry enough speed down the Dottinger Hohe straight. Here, your car will most likely reach its top speed due to the ~1.5 miles in length that this stretch provides. I always thought of Dottinger as a symbol of accomplishment in order to truly digest what kind of an accomplishment you have just obtained by lapping the most difficult but rewarding track that this world has to offer.

One last hurrah is present to greet you right after the straight in the form of Tiergarten, a fast downhill left leading into Hohenrain, a very slow complex of corners that demands an early braking point. Soon enough however, you find yourself wound back up on the short start finish line having just completed a lap.

It’s truly an amazing experience every time I choose to try the track in a different car on the simulator just to get that feeling but from a completely different perspective. If we get really deep into this we can think of the car acting sort of like a paintbrush while the track is the canvas, allowing us to produce our niche forms of art. This track I feel is superior to others in this sense as it allows us to express our driving styles in unique ways, as there is always something new to try or learn from this special place. Overall, it’s like the Mecca to all motorsports fans.

P.S. If any of you want to have your minds blown please feel free to check out the current world record lap time held around the Nordschleife set in the Porsche 919 Evo: