Day 18 Update

So the Nurburgring. From Frankfurt, myself Jurgen, Frank and Bert headed off for the 1.5 hour drive west. Traffic turned out to be a non-issue, and we parked right next to our viewing area.

Let me say this from the outset, the Nurburgring has one of the strangest spectator arrangements I have ever seen.

Your ticket only allows you into the spectator area you have purchased, so there is no roaming around the track to enjoy the view. Secondly, to get around anywhere you have to check out of your area. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the spectator walk ways in many areas are right next to the track, but you can’t see what is going on. There is also a four lane main road going under the circuit, which remains open as a public road.

Another innovation is the ‘Ring Card’. It’s a lot like Ithcy and Scratchy money, in that it is just like real money, but more fun. The deal is that you load up your card before you go to a food/bev counter, so you don’t have to exchange coins there. German efficiency.

Like Silverstone, trackside concessions were very reasonable. Bratwust for €3, and a cup of beer for less than €3.

After the GP3 race, I set off to find the merchandise area. With none apparent in the spectator enclosure (we were general admission, in the run up to the last chicane, a DRS zone). Out on the perimetre road, I headed north. A while later in the town of Nurburg, many vendors had stalls set up on the main road, although they tended to sell old season stock, or cheap fake goods.

In the two hour gap before F1, Frank and myself set off the other way in search of… anything. About 30 minutes and a cut lunch later, we found the main merchandise area, which was on the outside of the track behind the pit straight grandstand. In reality it was about 400m from our spectator point, but because of the wierd way the joint is configured, it was much much further.

There were a heap of motor racing styled boutiques, and displays set up by manufacturers. The indoors concourse was pretty impressive.

Back just in time for the race, we were in a pretty prime spot. We managed to get four folding chairs into the track, despite them being on the contraband list. In fact there didn’t appear to be any bag checks at all. There was lot of overtaking and dicing that didn’t make the coverage in front of us, as we were directly across from a big screen.

We were also privy to the Marussia blowing up and rolling across the track.

One slightly baffling thing was the commentary, which was in German, English and French. My basic grasp of German assisted with lap counts and driver positions, but I flat out struggled with the French portion.

Compared to the British crowd, the German’s were a bit meh. Unlike last week where the entire the crowd went nutso for Hamilton on every lap, there was hardly an outpouring of emotion when Vettel won. More like a polite golf clap. Maybe he’s not that popular? It’s not like the crowd was all kitted out in supporter gear like they were seven days earlier.

At the chequered flag, Frank went off to get a refund on his Itchy and Scratchy money, after investing heavily in it earlier in the day. In the meantime, a fight broke out at the bar between some Brits over someone allegedly cutting the line. Germany’s responsible service of alcohol kicked in, and everyone was served an ale in good order.

Somehow we jagged a spot in the traffic queue leaving the track, and we made it home in surprisingly good time. Well played.

Trip Day 18 Nürburgring

Nürburgring sandwich pressNürburgring toasterMercedesNürburgringNürburgringNürburgring castle

Trip Day 18 Nürburgring, a set on Flickr.

Day 11 Update

I just didn’t sleep on the night of the night of day 10. Whether it was excitement, fear that I would get lost and wind up at Brands Hatch, or just the fact that I knew had an early wakeup, sleep just didn’t happnen.

So I got on my bike at 5:30am (as the sun had started to appear at 2:30am after disappearing at 11:00pm) and set off. Fortunately I didn’t forget the 30km route to the track, but I discover that it’s almost entirely uphill from Newport Pagnell to Silverstone. This fact was hammered home by the fact that the return journey was 30 minutes quicker.

Nearing the track, a group of cyclists (they looked more like drunks) were taking a different route than the “google map” directions to the front gate. It turned out to be a ripper short cut through a golf course, a forest and a paddock to Copse corner. Winning.

I’ve never in my life encountered so many helpful gate/security staff. My first worry was where am I going to lock up my bike, but before I could ask, a lady said “You’ll enjoy riding your bike around the track today, inidit.” Winning x2.

The first thing inside the entry gate was a “bacon roll stand”, which saved my sleep deprived/sweat soakded life. Unlike the baseball, all of the concession stands were very reasonably priced, with food coming in at around £4.00 and drinks £2.20.

I did a lap of the track’s perimeter before play, before setteling in at the end of Wellington Straight/Brookfields/Luffield for GP3, Copse for GP2 and Becketts for Porsche Supercup.

The place was utterly chockers, ditto the grandstands, which were rather massive, yet very temporary looking in construction.

Before the F1 race I found a tree on the grass behind the grandstand and had an hour long kip, despite the constant whirring of the world’s busiest helicopter port.

Pre-race entertainment consisted of the Red Arrows, and they were freaking brilliant. Also, I was well pleased with my seat, top row of the Stowe grandstand A, so you could see the cars enter Becketts, exit Becketts, all the way onto the pit straight when you would lose them behind the Wing.

In the race Pirelli did it’s bit for the fans at Stowe by providing us with multiple blowouts. When these happened and no safety car was deployed, I was fairly appauled over the relaxed approach by the marshalls, who would slowly wander off the track as the cars were tearing down on them, lap after lap. Scary stuff.

There was no doubting who the favourite son of England is- and it’s definitely not Jensen, despite most of the crowd wearing McLaren kit.

For every lap after Lewis had his puncture, the crowd went absolutely batshit. It was amazing! It was as if there was nobody else in the race.

I sat there quietly all race long, until three laps to go I yelled something at Webber, which startled those around me.

At the chequered flag, I was able to make a dash through an adjacent paddock and freedom, beating what I’m sure would have been a ripper traffic snarl.

Stopped in at the Pury End and Potterspury villages on the way home, and also went for a ride through a genuine English willow cricket bat plantation.

Got home. Collapsed. Epic day!

Trip Day 11 Silverstone & Countryside

PathCanalStreamThatched roofChurchSilverstone
Bacon rollsEnglish HouseEnglish HouseThe Cock InnEnglish WillowPimms
Silverstone WingGP3GP3GP3SilverstoneGP2
GP2F1 DRSKobayaskiPorsche Super CupDriver trainingTemporary Grandstand

Firing Up on the Radio

One thing you will notice on various motorsport television coverages from the world over, is pit crew constantly trying to calm down their drivers over the radio.

Heck, I know from my own experience trying to keep mere Subaru drivers under control, you have to communicate in a nice flat tone, so the driver doesn’t get over excited… and over a gravel trap into a wall.

That’s why I love Indycar and Grand Am pit crews. Maybe they are frustrated racing drivers? Whatever it is, they fire up and get excited, and are the exception to the calm school of thought. Here is a sample communication from the recent Long Beach Grand Prix, with a driver trying to exit the pits: