From your living room, the Nurburgring can appear to be quite wide and spacious, with ample room to pass and compensate for error. Of course, the “Green Hell” did not earn its name by being a friendly and forgiving place to drive. For both driver and machine, it can quite literally be hell – so full of elevation changes, complex corners, surface changes, off camber sections, frequently changing weather conditions, and a very narrow width.
After breakfast this morning, we pulled our 1M out of the parking garage, and lined up to participate in BMW’s Corso parade lap prior to 24 Hours of Nurburgring qualifying (speaking of which, we are very pleased to confirm 4th and 5th starting positions on the grid for BMW’s factory M3 racers). It was an enlightening experience to see the track at “ground zero” and get a feel for the actual width of the track, along with the other above mentioned track challenges
While I enjoyed our friendly hand-waving, horn-honking parade lap at very slow speed, the racer in me was aching to find a rhythm and show some pace. Unfortunately, an unadulterated lap of the legendary race track is not to be this trip, largely due to the 24 hour race which closes the track to open lapping. Lapping the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit will have to remain unchecked on my ‘bucket list’ for now; but I remain bent on crossing this experience off of my bucket list as soon as possible.
I’m not the only one disappointed: our baby M smelled blood while being driven so slowly on the race track, and it’s hungry for a taste of Nurburgring asphalt. We’ll have to feed it a taste of Road America, Laguna Seca or Mosport upon its arrival in North America - I just hope it doesn’t eat any other small cars or passers by until then.
Prior to the start of the Corso parade lap, all participants lined up in two rows of cars, snaking around the access roads of the race track. A delay in the start of the Corso allowed for ample time to admire and photograph fellow M cars lined up for the lap. It was a spectacular line up, full to capacity with every M car you’ve ever driven, or dreamed of driving. An M1 ProCar was found near the start of the parade. In front of it, the 1M MotoGP Pace Car, the new (and seen for the first time today) M5 Ring Taxi, a copy of the new M3 CRT; and heading to the back of the line up we found an M3 GTS, G Power M3 (and while I don’t typically care much for modified cars, I do have to tip my hat to the clean design and outrageous performance of the machine – it would be fun to take for a boot), several M Coupes, and a plethora of other M cars including X5Ms, E36, E46 and generic E9X M3s.
The parade was formed exclusively of M cars, and it was special to enjoy the company and social environment of so many M car owners. During the parade lap, it was also encouraging to see the enthusiasm of so many loyal race fans lining the track side fences, waving, clapping, and smiling with excitement. While some parts of the world are experiencing a lull in motorsport participation and enthusiasm, it is reassuring to see the passion and the dedication of the predominantly German and European crowd present for the race. Their attendance is even more impressive when you factor in the rainy weather, muddy roads and camp grounds, and the fact that their tent will do nothing to quell the thunderous engines roaring merely meters from their track side camp.
Motorsport, I suppose, is an addictive interest that hooks you in and overcomes reason and logic with passion and emotion. It may not be the most agreeable way to spend a weekend: dressed in rubber boots covered in mud, walking the grounds, sleepless for at least 24 hours – and yet just the opportunity to see the latest race cars in action, driven to the limit while demonstrating the limits of modern design and technology, is enough to make you look for your rubber boots. On behalf of BMWBLOG, I would like to acknowledge and applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of race fans present at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring race, particularly those currently lying sleepless in a soggy tent wearing muddy rubber boots.
At the conclusion of our day, it is satisfying to look back in retrospect and recall our Corso parade lap of the famous Nurburging race circuit, and the energetic festivities surrounding the track. And yet as I sit here typing on my computer, the keys to a 1M sports car are calling out to me loudly, “drive me!” Tomorrow is a new day, and I can’t wait.