Wagnerian 'ring cycle

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

By Rob Widdows

I have recently had a timely fix of the Nordschleife in gratifyingly appalling weather. Thanks to BMW I had my first experience of the 24 Rennen at Nürburgring, a quite extraordinary race that starts at 5pm on a Saturday with about 180 cars on the grid, and finishes at 5pm on Sunday with many, many fewer More of this later

The last time I visited the Nürburgring (the new circuit, that is) I was there for something called the Oldtimer Grand Prix, which tries to emulate Goodwood but fails. The highlight of my weekend was a few laps of the Nordschleife with Jackie Oliver in his Jaguar XKR. This was educational, despite heavy rain and low cloud, because Mr Oliver knows his way round. And this is the point ‘You have to learn it he told me, diving down into another of those fearsome corners, “you really need to know it before you can do a good time. In any car And if it’s wet well…”

After those few laps I take any chance I can to watch racing drivers tackle 14 miles through the forest This time it was very wet and frighteningly foggy as dusk descended over the Eifel mountains and the sight of Audis, Aston Martins, Mercedes and BMWs chasing each other into the night was as thrilling as ever Sadly, the race was stopped, in torrential rain, and restarted the following morning. It was just too dangerous, visibility down to virtually zero. To race through that with 180 cars out there, would be stupid rather than brave.

The Nordschleife always was, and still is, unique. OK, it’s covered in graffiti now, the safety has improved, marginally, and on weekdays tourists try to hurt themselves by roaring round in (or on) anything with an engine and wheels. But it is still a mighty impressive place to watch a racing driver Wouldn’t it be just great to see Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen fight it out at this place? You bet it would, but that’s never going to happen.

The vast crowd (they told me 180,000 over four days) brings a special atmosphere. This is not any old race weekend, it is a happening, a carnival, a seething mass of people, many of whom are at least tipsy, high or both. Every spring they come from all over the world to join one of our sport’s last great parties, to be spooked by the track’s Wagnerian vibes.

Some of them even watch the racing.

As if the Nordschleife didn’t have enough challenges, weather is the joker in the pack. Dry at Bergwerk and wet at Flugplatz Imagine that Those two places are many hold-your-breath kilometres apart Tyre choice is a nightmare, as many drivers have discovered over the decades, and the Nordschleife is not a place to be on the wrong rubber If you get it wrong, you can’t change things for another 14 miles.

From the top of the BMW ‘M Gallery’ we watched as rain-filled black clouds sank into the treetops. And then we all got very wet Out there, though, the top drivers continued to hustle through the twitchy twists, turns, dips and crests. This takes a lot of skill and a dash of bravery when the wipers can’t really cope, the lights reflect back off the mist and the traffic is constant owing to the absurd number of participants. I say absurd, but of course the spectacle is tremendous, especially in the early laps. You will have your own memories of the place, races you have seen, late nights around a campfire, traffic jams and finding sustenance other than bratwurst, beer and greasy chips. For me, the ultimate mastery of the place has to be JYS winning in 1968, a victory he describes as a “teeth-gritting effort” and “possibly my greatest drive”. Possibly? Well, I guess there were a few The conditions that day would not be tolerated in the modern era heavy rain, fog and no rear lights back then. That race, like the circuit itself, is a priceless slice of motor sport history