Numerous racing films are action-packed, fast-paced, and adrenaline fueled, but they all seem to be made from the same thread. However, a breath of fresh air titled “Rush” was released in 2013, providing us with a serious, poignant, and terrifying look at the racing industry.
Halfway through the film, we were introduced to the Nürburgring Race Track, which was described as the most difficult and deadliest road of them all. It instilled fear in the hearts of all racers, and even the esteemed Formula One legend Niki Lauda fell victim to the track when his race car crashed and burned during a rainy day in the 1976 Grand Prix.
Though he suffered severe burns, Lauda can actually be considered “lucky” since over 200 racers lost their lives in that dreaded race track. No matter how powerful your engine, how efficient your exhaust system, or how disciplined your driving, you can’t set wheels on this track without fearing for your life.
Here are eight facts that surround the history of the infamous Nürburgring Race Track:
The Eifel region of northwest Germany held the ADAC Eifelrennen annual motor race long before the construction of the infamous racing track began. Building the Nürburgring was only proposed after the terrain was deemed impractical and dangerous by the authorities.
Another reason why the Nürburgring was built was to decrease unemployment rate in the Eifel region (Back then, Germany’s economy was on the brink of collapse). Up to 25,000 people were employed from 1925 to 1927 to construct the racing circuit.
The project was spearheaded by Dr. Otto Creuz. A prominent politician in the Eifel region, he would later commit suicide when the Nazis suspected him of diverting funds for the Nürburgring’s construction.
1927 marked the official opening of the Nürburgring. The first race ever to take place there is the Eifel race for motorbikes on June 18, 1927, where Rudolf Caracciola became the first driver ever to win on the perilous track.
The Nürburgring initially consisted of the 22.8-kilometer Nordschleife (North Loop) and the 7.7-kilometer Südschleife (South Loop). The Nordschleife would be later shortened by 2 km, and in 1980 the some parts of the Südschleife became the Neue Nürburgring F1 track.
The Nordschleife track of the Nürburgring is only closed off during testing and racing events. On normal days it serves as a public toll road, subject to German road regulations like speed limits and so on. You can also take your car there for a few laps, with each lap costing about €23 ($35).
The Nürburgring is also the birth place of the Silver Arrows. In 1934, the Mercedes team scraped off the white paint from their W25 vehicle on the eve of the race day to meet the newly set weight standard of 750 kg. The next day, Manfred Brauchitsch achieved undisputed victory with his silvery set of wheels.
Not even burns and broken bones could keep Lauda down. He bounced back from his devastating accident by setting the fastest lap record for the original Nordschleife track, looping his Ferrari 312T in 6 minutes and 58.6 seconds. However, the record would soon be beaten by Stefan Bellof in in 1983 when he drove his Porsche 956 around the loop for a staggering 6 minutes and 11.13 seconds with a speed of 125.6 miles per hour.
The Nürburgring continues to be the most difficult and demanding racing circuit in existence, dubbed (perhaps aptly) by Jackie Stewart as “the Green Hell.” A lot of amateur and professional racers from all over the world battle on this deadly track until today. What a bunch of daredevils. Here’s to hoping that none of them ever forget to wear their seatbelts.