Nürburgring or Eifelring?

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The Nürburgring is a majestic racing circuit of 20 kilometres length in the Eifel mountains, and it is alive and well, though many of today’s racing drivers have no interest in racing on it and International officialdom does not consider it to be suitable for the world of Grand Prix motor racing today. In consequence, the German Grand Prix left the Eifel mountains in 1976 and moved to the flat Hockenheimring near Mannheim, but the Eifel district was unhappy about losing their national Grand Prix, which they had had since 1927, so the local civic authorities inaugurated the building of a new circuit near the existing one which would appease officialdom, comply with all the requirements of the nineteen-eighties, and attract the Grand Prix back to the Eifel district. The result is the new Motodrom that is much better than the Hockenheimring, but which we can only bring ourselves to call the Eifelring, though offficially it is called the New Nürburgring. The best way to illustrate this is to compare a supercharged K3 MG Magnette with an MG Metro; you can stick an MG label on a hotted up Mini-Metro, but you won’t fool anyone that it is a real MG. You can call the new circuit the new Nürburgring, but it is a modern, clinical, boring Motodrom. Nobody is going to have their adrenalin flowing as they drive round it, there will be no deeds of daring or bravery, no legends will be made on the Eifelring, and spectators without field glasses won’t see too much. The enormity of the project is breathtaking and it makes Silverstone or Donington Park look like Stock-Car Stadiums as regards the facilities and amenities. The length is 4.5 kilometres and the curves and gradients have all been calculated geometrically and the terrain altered to meet the requirements. Huge concrete tiered stands surround a good part of the track so there will be no traditional Eifel weekend camping alongside the edge of the track, and there isn’t a tree in sight, though plenty of grass seed has been sown and the run-off areas are vast. Undoubtedly thousands of spectators will flock to the Eifelring to see the Grand Prix stars in action, but the action will not be much more exciting than that seen or imagined at the Hockenheimring. Unlike the Belgians who rebuilt the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to comply with today’s requirements, and retained the character of the original circuit by letting the track follow the natural contours of the land, which the Austrians did with their magnificent Osterreichring at Knittelfeld, the Germans have altered the Eifel landscape to suit the geometric layout of the circuit they designed. As an object lesson in earth moving the Eifel project is formidable, but as a new Nürburgring it is awful, but anything must be better than the Hockenheimring and Grand Prix cars back in the Eifel must be a good thing.

On May 12th the official opening ceremony was accompanied by a day of festivities which included parades of old racing cars and racing people, motorcycle events, saloon car racing for Niirburgring winners of the past and present, pop concerts, fireworks, bands and flag-waving. The first serious event was the German motorcycle Grand Prix at the end of May. Grand Prix car racing will return to the Eifel mountains in September, except that the mountains have been levelled off in the interests of safety. — D.S. J.