Life at Nurburgring

Between two helpings of bratwurst and a pint of “pure” beer, Hans and Otto admire the Nurburgring racing track from up high: proud and vast, a veritable bitumen serpent, undulating beautifully in the natural, German Sun’s light.

Everything around here is natural, perfect and shipshape. Even the loser who’s just totaled his M3 moves away naturally from the circuit, perched on a platform that whines naturally under the weight of the lifeless, emotionless monster, smashed against one of the sturdy German fences that, every now and then, stop overly enthusiastic drivers from their “adrenalin-filled” races.

It is truly a lovely day. It would have been even lovelier had not a terrible rumor emerged out of nowhere: the Government has had enough of throwing money out of the window and thinking about cutting F1 race funds... A pure, German, blob of spit splatters on the old circuit’s surface, guided by high precision worthy of Hans’s descent.

As Otto gets busy sketching up scenarios based on words like pension, politics, green and curse words towards the poor penguins and blue whales, Hans moves lazily towards the entrance. There are still plenty of enthusiasts who are willing to waste their money on the track, so he, Hans, is an important figure. Without him and the tickets he hands out, no “hot hatch” would ever step on the circuit and no 60 year old “aficionados“ would get to destroy their Ms or AMGs doing laps at staggering speeds.

 Today, however, is special. The losers are barred from getting in, because a famous automaker is testing their new car on the track. Hans just got the whole scoop from a 45-year old engineer, exhausted but very excited about his achievements. We can’t disclose the company’s name, that’s something you simply don’t do, but it’s obviously German (what else?!) and it's got tons of notable accomplishments under its belt, something rather normal, in fact, for the “deutsch” auto industry.

 Rock-solid suspensions, sky-high wheels, sport exhausts, reinforced frames, brakes as aggressive as possible... everything for an improved lap time on the Nurburgring. Hans rubs a fresh bruise unconsciously and smiles. He gave the car a try himself but, after he wrecked his left hip struggling to get inside the cockpit, he realized this is yet another “pencil sharpener” made for race track records.

 The engineer explained proudly how the car is brand-new, but nobody’s going to be able to convince Hans this isn’t the same car he’s seen on the circuit for the last 20 years he’s been working here. There are a few slight design changes and the engineer is pleased with their subtleness but for a less-knowledgeable person they might be a bit too subtle.

After a few hours of ongoing screeching of brakes, smoke, several pairs of tires thrown aside and tons of burned gas, the engineer walks away bustling with joy. His car got the best of all other competitors and his team managed to improve their lap time by a tenth of a second, which will send their sales through the roof. He merrily calls marketing department, and the sales guys get a sudden memo about a 25% price increase. Everybody knows you can’t sell a Nurburgring record holder at a “normal” price.

The track record rankings are merciless. Relatively cheap cars sell like hot cakes because they managed better lap times than the competition that’s five times more expensive, values are twisted around and fans keep their eyes glued to the “screen” for any word on the new cars’ performances.

A Jaguar owner recently got his ass kicked by a group of French fanatics who wanted to make him understand the Megane RS is better than his "crappy" XKR since it was faster on the Nurburgring track. The all-too-developer British sense of humor caused the poor guy to make fun of the Frenchmen’s “pencil sharpener” and then someone got a black eye, three swear words and a broken German pint later (over the head of the stupid fop who refused to comprehend that a small 2-liter car is much better than a supercharged 5-liter 500+ HP one... 510HP to be precise).

 His arguments about comfort fell quickly before a pair of carefully (and painfully) aimed kicks, while any talk of fuel consumption was dismissed as irrelevant even though it’s been shown as very close for the 510HP engine and the (very theoretical) 250HP one. He couldn’t even start mentioning the adaptive suspensions or the Jag’s superior (by far) steering because Else, both a burly woman and the circuit’s bartender, got fed up by their quarreling and threw all of them out. A true, 1.90m (6 ft) high, 120kg (250 pound) German “frau”, filled to the brim with reasoning and all set to impose her opinion by force, if need be.

There’s a lot more to say about life at Nurburgring but... an unforeseen event has shaken the very foundations of the auto industry and shocked the press and fans. A little Chinese car that got a single star in the ENCAP tests, has destroyed the standards set by Germans for years and years. It managed to best the lap time by over A SECOND and many marketing teams are already whining, engineers are looking for work and Hans laughs his ass off while taking a wee-wee behind a pile of used tires.

OK, maybe the Chinese contraption lacks any kind of suspensions, since it’s cheaper (and lighter) to use small aluminum bars instead, the seats are Recardo, look just like those in buses and are made of hard plastic, but the lateral support is great, the wheels are positioned far to the car’s sides and your spine feels every patch of slightly rougher asphalt, but who gives a damn about such... details?

 This is the best Nurburgring car. It looks like they’re going to call it Lo Tash and give it a “megacharged” 1.5L engine. Reliability? Well, it was good for a few laps, so it’s going to be just fine. Fuel consumption? 80L/100km (3mpg) on the race track but the guys who test these things will certainly bring it to a nice 10-12L/100km (19-23 mpg) for city driving, especially since it will be equipped with a start-stop system that reduces pollution and fuel consumption... when you don’t use the car.

 Hordes of fans will buy it to death and apply additional tuning, reduce the ground clearance even further from its already low 60 mm (2.3in), and then ride victoriously at 50-60 kph (18-31 mph) around cities crammed with traffic cameras.

 And all of it out of passion! Lo Tash 4ever!!!
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