Magic of the Nürburgring


1802It was just after midnight on a Saturday back in June when art editor Damon Cogman and I stood up on the steep hill that looks down on Steilstrecke, the right-hander that precedes the short blast into the famous Karussel hairpin. We were panting a little, having pushed our bikes up the grassy slope, but as we took a breather and turned to look down on the track, we knew the effort had been worth it. The magnificence of the Nordschleife, at night, during the madcap annual 24 Hours, is something to behold.

Memories of that night – complete with the fireworks, the higgledy-piggledy campsites, the heady aroma of beer and barbecues, the drunken Germans in various states of dishevelment – will always stick with me. And they came flooding back once again when we chose the cover shot for the October issue, taken 40-odd years earlier from exactly the same place on that hillside. Out here, away from the modern Grand Prix circuit, the Nürburgring hasn’t changed at all.

The trip to the 24 Hours was intended to offer some inspiration for this latest issue of the magazine. Well, that was the excuse anyway. In reality, you don’t need to go there to feel the spirit of the place. The glorious photographs from the archives and the heroic – and often mentally unhinged – stories the circuit has thrown up over the years catch the imagination every time. With the help of Vic Elford, who gives us his guide to the great track, we hope we’ve tapped into that magic in the October issue.

Fittingly, given that some of his greatest days behind the wheel came at the ’Ring, Jacky Ickx joins Simon Taylor for lunch this month. Simon has been chasing Jacky to add to his roster of interviews for years. Each time he spoke to Jacky, the urbane Belgian would always reply politely that he’d be delighted to meet Simon for lunch – but tying him down to a date and place proved challenging.

Fortunately, Simon is persistent! Eventually, Jacky invited him to his wonderful home for a lunch cooked by his wife. We always knew this one would be worth the wait, and so it has proved.

Other highlights of the issue include a fantastic McLaren M1B vs Lola T70 Spyder track test, a revealing interview with Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and Nigel Roebuck’s insightful view of the Sky/BBC deal for Formula 1 TV coverage in 2012.

Looking ahead, we’re delighted to reveal details of our next reader evening. Following our highly enjoyable viewing of the Senna film in the company of Jo Ramirez earlier in the year, this time we’re delving into the sports car world – and for me, this one is extra special.

Truth in 24 is a fly-on-the-wall documentary following Audi’s successful attempt to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2008, in the face of a strong challenge from Peugeot. The film, which was never commercially released in the UK, is obviously a few years old now, but Nigel Roebuck and I only saw it for the first time earlier this year. We were both blown away by the film.

As an insight into life within a modern racing team, I’ve never seen anything as good as this. It shows the oh-so-human side of the Audi racing machine that is usually hidden from view behind the sheen of perfection they like to project. Personally, I think it’s at least a match for Senna as a must-see racing film.

Readers will watch the documentary in the company of Audi’s star drivers Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, plus race engineers Howden ‘H’ Haynes and Leena Gade. ‘H’ ran Tom, Allan and Dindo Capello’s car to victory in that ’08 race and steals the show in Truth in 24, as we follow his story from the pitwall (I won’t give any more away here…). Leena was ‘H’’s number two back in ’08, but has stepped up since then and engineered the winning R18 in this year’s 24 Hours at La Sarthe.

The quartet will join Nigel Roebuck and I after the film for what promises to be an entertaining forum, as we discuss all things Le Mans and gain further insight into what it’s like to live and race within the crack Audi team. We will, of course, open up the discussion to the floor to take any questions the audience might want to ask.

The event takes place on Saturday October 8 at the stunning Audi quattro rooms, just off the A4 in London. Tickets cost £145, although there is a special price for subscribers of £125 – that’s a 14 per cent discount.

To book, call the office on 020 7349 8472 or e-mail at [email protected]. If you are not a subscriber, you will be eligible for the special price if you take out a subscription when you book tickets.

The readers’ evening, run in association with Audi UK, will offer a golden opportunity to meet two legends of sports car racing in a fabulous setting. It should be a great evening.

A week earlier, on Saturday October 1, you can also join us at Brooklands for the Bill Boddy Tribute Day. The event, organised by former deputy editor Clive Richardson and the Brooklands Museum, will bring together a collection of cars associated with WB’s life and career, plus some special guests, too. What better place to honour our late founder editor? For a discounted admission price for magazine readers, e-mail [email protected]

I hope to see you at either – or even both – events.

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