The 24 Hours of Nürburgring Experience - Launching DRIVE

Uploaded by drive on 01.01.2012


JOHN HINDHAUGH: The Nurburgring 24-hour race is
like no other--
not just like no other race, like no other 24-hour race.
We all love Le Mans.
We all know the history behind Le Mans going back to 1923.
The race here at the Nurburgring is probably just
as important and getting more so year on year.
There's a part of all of us who likes to think that we are
ring kings.
You can put down your 24 Euros and take out whatever car you
brought here, whether it's an SUV, whether it's a van, an
estate car, or a high-performance sports car.
And you can go out there and pit
yourself against the track.

This track is a throwback, first used in 1927.
Don't forget it took two years to build before that.
And since 1927, it's been challenging the world's
greatest drivers.
LEO PARENTE: That may all be true in the traditional sense
and great respect to all that.
But the Nurburgring 24 race is a whole lot more.

When 200 cars, 27 brands, 10 factory teams, 783 drivers,
and over 250,000 real racing fans fill the grandstands of
the Nurburgring Grand Prix track and the wooded hills of
the historical Nordschleife course, you feel how this race
absorbs the racing, grabs the passion, and transcends other
races to become an event, a happening.
I can't for the life of me figure out how they say there
are 173 turns on a lap of the Nurburgring.
I come up about 100 short.
You know this place.
As a member of Gen-I, you grew up with computer games.
And you know Nurburgring means the ultimate track on your
driving sim.
And if you read automotive advertising, you've heard
about the Nurburgring too, because every manufacturer
uses this place as the performance benchmark, a
validator for car credibility.
It's the auto equivalent of an Oprah Winfrey endorsement.

But even with the sims and the advertising, you may not know
the Nurburgring race--
24 hours, 150 plus laps of the 15.2 mile, 24.4 kilometer,
mountain course that is so expansive it runs through
three towns.
It absorbs 1,984 feet of elevation change and barrages
the racers with an incessant
drive-with-your-guts intensity.
When you drive the Nurburgring, you live an
When you race the Nurburgring for 24 hours, you
just flat out live.

Did we mention the weather?
If it doesn't rain, it's not the Nurburgring.
So it rains always, every day and night.
The weather is one of the stars of this track.
The weather is part of the Nurburgring lore.
The 200 cars have just rolled out for the Nurburgring 24.
Look, this isn't about me.
But I'm going to put it in perspective this way--
I get jaded about racing.
I have never been so excited watching cars roll from the
starting grid as this Nurburgring 24.
A great grid of GT cars-- probably
the best in the world.
This is going to be awesome.

I'm not convinced 700 racers really know this
track, every turn.
So this is a real challenge and what the fans really love.
You're on top of the car, chasing the car every corner,
adapting to changing
conditions, adapting to traffic.
It's like boat racing or street racing.
The surprises make it so intense.
That's why these fans absolutely love it.
And what I see is different from a lot
of other road races.


LEO PARENTE: With 15 miles to cover, dozens of camera
helicopters take to the air, making the skies over Nurburg
resemble that of New York City.
The video games do not do this track justice.
You think you've mastered it on GT 5 or whatever?
Drive this track.
The elevation changes are awesome.
The corners are blind.
Real is better.
Sorry I'm being old-school.
MALE VOICE ON RADIO: A driver got out.
They put out the fire.

LEO PARENTE: Why race here?
The goal to win this iconic event is obvious-- be it
corporate, personal, or professional pride.
But for many, this is like running a marathon--
Boston, Berlin, New York.
So many do it just to say they did it, marking their identity
and their soul, and in every bar and office cooler
Yeah, we all drive cars.
But I raced the Nurburgring 24.
That's what I did.

MALE VOICE ON RADIO: Read on the monitor and oil temp.

LEO PARENTE: National Geographic had nothing on our
expedition into the natural habitat of
the Nurburgring fan.
This is a hardy stock.
And like any creature in the wild, you
approach with caution.
We're the visitor.
It's their turf.
But once they feel your intentions, you are welcomed
into the pride.
And then the rituals of the species can be fully observed.
A character trait of this race is the bond it
has with the fans.
Oh sure, there are corporate suites.
But it is the camping in the woods that shows you the
authentic connection fans have made with this race.

And then cut to me.

And by the way, we're only three hours into the race.
My god.

Of course, a 24-hour race means night racing.
No NASCAR track illumination systems in the Nordschleife
woods unless you count the occasional fireworks.

Just in case you think I'm only about the racing, we
thought it would be a really good idea to come back to the
Nordschleife at 2:00 AM and see if anyone was up watching
the racing.
Oh yeah, they're up.

Night racing at the Nurburgring in the summer
isn't as bad as you'd think.
With the sun setting late into the evening and the sunrise
about 5:00 AM, drivers only spend about
seven hours in darkness.

MALE VOICE ON RADIO: Hey, shut off that [INAUDIBLE] valve.
Whatever you do, I know it's the easiest to forget.
LEO PARENTE: The blue lights--
everyone asks about the blue lights.
It's given to the top 36 fastest cars.
The message is simple--
watch out for and move over for the blue lights.
The big GT cars are around 200 miles per hour, top speed.
The smallest race cars are only just clearing
120 miles an hour.
As the sun rises, the carnage from driving the green hell in
the dark is revealed.

Don't worry about that.

LEO PARENTE: We've got two hours to go in the race.
LEO PARENTE: Let's talk a little bit about the leaders.
We've got Porsche and Mercedes, BMW, and Audi.
But it looks like what happened is we've got the 2009
winning car, the Manthey Porsche, in the lead.
They kept talking about consistency.
And I kept probing, does all the knowledge they have from
winning this thing so many times help?
I would get this smile and this nod.

MALE VOICE ON RADIO: Hey, guys, let's get this.

LEO PARENTE: You know how everyone tells you we car fans
are a niche, a cul-de-sac on the highway of real life?
Well, the Nurburgring 24 defied that myopic mainstream
This track, this race, grabs all sorts of people.
It's a party for the people.
It's an annual gathering event for the area populace.
The winning car did 156 laps, or 3,959 kilometers, totaling
14,820 shifts but 26,988 turns.
So if I'm not using the coolest, most hipster
cross-reference, shoot me.
But this place, these fans-- this is the Coachella of
racing, the Burning Man of motorsport.
This race has gravitas.
It is a celebration of the essence of auto racing.
take the Nurburgring 24 all serious.
Did I mention celebration?