In Germany, Sunday is the day to enjoy yourself. Put on your Sunday best, gather with family and friends, enjoy a walk and maybe even some coffee. There is no shopping on Sunday as all the stores are closed. (I do miss those days in Canada when there was one day to do nothing but relax). For Canadians, Sunday equals football. Tailgating, friends and an afternoon of sports whether live or from the comfort of your living room. For the German racing fan, Sunday also equates to friends and tailgating but at the track not the field.
Driving the hills of the German countryside, hiking trails were easily identifable as the parking lot marking the beginning usually spilled out onto the highway. The young, the old, the dogs and everyone in between worked off their weekday meals of schnitzel, gravy, potatoes and beer. Sport, super sport and adventure bikes were plentiful – even the odd cruiser although they are greatly outnumbered.
The parking lot of the north ring of the Nurinburgring was packed yet there was no official event. Motorcyclists in full leathers of every colour stood hillside eating bratwurst and fries waiting for the next speed demon to come around the corner of the track. Yet no one came.
For a mere 26 Euro, those who feel the need for speed can sign away liability, temporarily void any insurances, take their life in their own hands, and go Mach III with their hair on fire for about 12 minutes straight in the closed circuit of the North Ring aka the Green Hell (for its surrounding of trees).
“There is an accident.” The reason no one was racing. As for accident statistics for the Green Hell – there aren’t any as accidents are not reported. Emergency personnel are on site to deal with injuries but as there is no insurance, there are no stats. The longer the delay, the worse the accident and yet facing death is what keeps the enthusiasts feeling alive.
As we waited, the smell of bratwurst would waft past as the smoke from the barbeques got thicker and accented laughter louder. Cruise the parking lot if your bored and you will find some very expensive cars, motorcycles and a plethora of characters who want to tell you all about their ride – even if you don’t speak their language – visuals will get the message across. At the sound of the first car screaming out of the trees and blazing past the burm in a blur, the adrenaline shot through my own body – and I wasn’t even racing. Four or five cars sped past before the first motorcycle. I was under the impression that it would be one at a time on the track as these were not professional drivers. Surprise. It is a free for all. VW’s race along Mini’s, mixed in with Ferrari’s, Porsche and Lambourghini throw in a few motorcycles here and there and “Is that a mini-van?”
Helmets on some not on others, right hand drivers, left hand drivers, young, old, fast, strong, not so fast and excited (the VW honked his horn at spectators which garnered a laugh from the crowd). All free. All fun.