Historical "Cradle of German Motorsports" Goes Up for Sale

Stephanie Davies Nov 1, 2013 0 Comment(s)
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Wouldn't it be badass to own a place that was filled with such a rich automotive history that it literally incites excitement when its name is mentioned? Well now you can! If you can afford it, that is. Nürburgring is officially on the block and up for grabs by bidders the world over.

In a nutshell, the aforementioned "rich history" included Niki Lauda's Ferrari explosion in 1976, which was the turning point for the circuit in that Formula One deemed it too dangerous a track for its competition and for good reason - over the past two years alone, there have been 230 accidents and three deaths. Car companies, including Chevrolet Europe, use the circuit to test out new models and amateurs attempt to set records there.

Now, local politicians have loaded it down with enough debt to cover 50 years of profit, and the famed track has gone into administration and is seeking a new owner.

The Ring was completed in 1927, when it was built to showcase German automotive engineering and racing, and assets now include the track and the adjacent amusement park featuring a rollercoaster, which mimics an F1 car's cockpit g-force. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, safety concerns have delayed the opening of the rollercoaster until the end of this month.

Apparently, the country's carmakers are all sorts of interested in adding the track to their own list of assets. Volkswagen's Porsche bought Italy's Nardo Ring in May 2012, and Silverstone (home of the British Grand Prix) is now owned by a large group of over 800 drivers including the famed F1 star Lewis Hamilton.

Annual revenue of the track is somewhere between 50 and 60 million euros and it has underlying profits around 6 to 8 million, meaning the track is more profitable than many carmakers. Whoever buys it is required by law to keep the circuit open to the public and motor industry.

Though BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen have declined to comment, Administrator Thomas Schmidt has said that he has a "sufficient number of legitimate non-binding bids for all the Nürburgring assets" and hopes for a deal early next year.

Peter Meyer, President of German motoring club ADAC said, "The Nürburgring is without a doubt the cradle of German motorsports. It's an automotive cultural treasure." ADAC has admitted that it is seriously considering making a bid.

Besides closing for presence of ice or fog, the track closes only for selected secretive "industry pool" days between April and October, which are the days carmakers rent the course to perform their own tests - like Chevrolet Europe did with the new 2014 Corvette Stingray just recently. Otherwise, the Ring is open to amateur racing enthusiasts who pay 26 euros per lap to test the waters to the delight of German police who argue that it serves as a valuable outlet for adrenaline junkies who would otherwise endanger others on the road.

However, professionals are a little less gung-ho about amateur expedition on the track, the longest in the world at 13 miles with 73 bends and sharp crests.

"It's the toughest track by miles," Vincent Radermecker, a Belgian driver who has raced in the World Touring Car Championship among others. "If you make a mistake here, you destroy the car and yourself."

During just one lap of the track, drivers experience intense altitude changes and weather differences. For instance, some parts may be wet while others are dry. The paving is a mosaic of rough and smooth surfaces due to years of subsidence and repaving.

"This area is volcanic and even though it's inactive, the ground is still moving," said professional test driver Dirk Schoysman, explaining that even following 16,000 career laps there is "nothing else in the world like it."

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