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I survived the Nuerburgring Nordschleife!

July 21, 2011

The Nordschleife. Just the word sends shivers down the spine of even the best motor racing driver. Sir Jackie Stewart nicknamed the old track in western Germany the “Green Hell” and although it is extremely dangerous, they all loved racing it really.

Talks about exhilarating. I was lucky enough to be driven round the fearsome circuit by a specialist driver in a Mercedes two-seat sportscar ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the adjacent Nuerburgring.

It was wet, so we only went half pace but my heart was still beating faster than I can ever remember. Given the conditions, the driver did remarkably well and dealt admirably but a couple of inevitable skids on a track deemed too dangerous in 1976 to continue racing F1 there.

“If we hit that kerb, we’d fly straight into the wall,” he said twice as we topped 120 mph in places.

“That’s where Niki Lauda crashed,” he added at a relatively easy turn on the mammoth 14 mile circuit which winds its way thuogh the forest in the German countryside.

In truth it is more like a roller coaster than a race track. The changes in altitude are immense, with huge dips and climbs never seen now in F1 where cars can actually fly off jumps for a few seconds. The banked corners, like on NASCAR tracks, are also from a bygone age of F1 and danger really does lurk at every corner.

Most of the current Formula One drivers have been giddily having a go on the Nordschleife before taking to the more modern and much safer Nuerburgring.

The Nordschleife is one of the greatest challenges in motor sport and its fame among F1 fans is demonstrated by the huge amout of graffiti on the actual tarmac.

All hail the Green Hell.

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