Nurburgring 12-14/9/2003


This was to be our second trip to the Nurburgring, I was slightly aprehensive about this one after what happened on our April trip! This trip had been pulled together by Saffo from Perth who had plans to make a 'road movie' with his travelling friends Chris, Noah, John and Rolf. This was to include the purchase and modification of a car, in Europe, to 'thrash' around the ring. Check out Saf's page which was posted to generate interest in this trip.

Myself and Jenny drove alone (shame Ricky, Steve and Helen couldn't make it due to last minute mechanical problems) in the ST165 to the ring from Chester in the UK (around 600 miles) and arrived at the circuit at around 10:30 am on Friday after driving through the night. I had Rolf's number so gave him a call and we met up for lunch. He had bought a Saab 900 Turbo which he had modded - apparently this was literally the last one off the production line ! Saf and the gang hadn't arrived yet so we decided to go racing - yeh.

We hit the circuit and both got 5 lap tickets. The circuit was not very busy so we could get on whenever we wanted. What a blast the 165 was storming - I swear by Goodyear F1 Tyres the car can be drifted and flicked around in complete safety - even with my stock shox and springs !

Rolf had a few overheating problems due to the cooling system employed by Saab. He patched it up numerous times and used a whole bowser full of water but the engine eventually expired after lap 5. The car had run well and I think Rolf was impressed with the 25 psi he squeezed out of the turbo. He didn't seem put off though and we all had had a blast. There were a couple of serious accidents involving motorbikes during the day which caused some long track closures. We were both lucky to get the 5 laps in but this was largely due to the fact the day was not so busy.

We headed back to the hotel in the evening - Jenny and I needed some sleep! We had been up for 34 hours by this time.

Saf, Yana, Noah, Chris and John turned up during our sleep. We headed down to Rolfs room and there were the guys. We met up and had a beer in the Am Tiergarten restaurant/bar and it was great to actually meet these folks and get talking about various things including the days racing, the hectic time spent preparing the Nissan 180 (200 sx for us UK folks), GT4's etc. etc. The beer was flowing but the night had to end for the following days racing !

The Saturday morning was spent doing some last minute work on the Nissan 180. A new gearbox mount was fitted using the improvised ramp at the hotel i.e. a slanting driveway. Rolfs hire car turned up but the delivery driver didn't seem too phased - perhaps he hadn't cottoned onto the potential use of the car. We all kept quite when the keys were being handed over - lol. Chris fitted the mount after having some trouble with some dodgy threads and we headed for the track after lunch. Dirk and Mark were already spectating and met us at the track - it was busy ! Stougie came along a little later on (many many thanks for helping us out with the medical bills from last time).

Saf in the 180 and me in the 165 did an immediate lap with Chris driving a hired Peugeot! It didn't take long to pass Chris as the pug
wasn't handling so good - so his passengers were saying ! Saf was getting used to the 180 but was held up by some traffic, I was
getting more used to the 165 handling by now and how to overtake bikes round corners while sliding the 165 sideways. My circuit memmory is really building now and I feel really confident with the corners and the car.

When we got back to the paddock we all chewed the fat for a while soaking up the atmosphere. Saf took the car out for another lap with John riding shotgun. While Saf was out on his lap the track was closed again. This was a normal thing this weekend with the number of accidents which seemed to be occurring. It transpired that after about half an hour or so Saf wasn't coming back. We faced the reality that he had been in an accident with the 180 - Dirk confirmed this with the track marshals. The safety chopper flew over but fortunately Saf was brought back in the safety car and the chopper was for someone else. There had been three accidents on the track at the same time. Saf and John were safe but the 180 took a right side front impact into the armco - game over. I will let Saf fill in any details when he can but I think the brakes failed and Saf tried to side impact the car to prevent a 'head on'.

We were all a bit shook up but Saf and John were OK. There seems to be a fair amount of procedure when these things happen and Saf later commented on the ruthlessness of the track marshals demanding money at the scene of the accident for the track repairs ! We suggested he demand his 4 metres of Armco that he paid for to be shipped over to Perth !

Anyway I had a further lap with John as passenger (man - he was keen as mustard to go) - I was sliding the 165 around with Jenny in the back, John was telling me to rev harder ! I also had a great lap with Dirk in his STI - lovely smooth car. Dirk wasn't caning it but I
could sense the power and the engine noise is amazing !

About 6:45 pm we all met up at the yard where the car had been towed and reflected a bit. But Saf was still up for a lap in the Peugeot and him, John and Chris set off back to the circuit !

Later in the evening we had a few beers and a meal at a bar in Nurburg. Despite the days events everyone had a great evening (well I think so despite the looong wait for our beers and food !). The beers and stories flowed. For me it was truly great to sit round a table with these folks, some of whom I had not even e-mailed before, and talk and drink and eat sharing a common interest and reflecting on lifes adventures. It was round the table that the idea for a new website was born - one that catered for the ringers who's cars never made it back ! Names were debated and this was the result - lol. Eventually it was time for zzz's and we all wobbled back to the hotel. John drove Saf back and they both entertained us with the chirping tyres as the front wheels tried to drag the back ones along - which weren't turning - hmmm, how does that happen ?

Sunday morning Jen and I were up at around 8:15 for breakfast with Dirk, Mark and Noah. A final lap in the ST165 was on the cards with Noah. We got to the circuit and had a storming lap. Noah took some pics during the lap and we happened upon 3 separate accidents which closed the circuit after we exited. Mainly bikes were involved and they looked messy - gulp.

As with all things the lap ended and it was time to say goodbye. The journey home was gonna be around 12 hours and it was work as usual for Monday morning. Saf seemed more upbeat, the road trip sounds like it goes on in hire cars - hmm, some fun there I think. Jen and I took a few group photos and headed off at around 11:30 am. We got to Dover at 14:00 PM and were in Chester for 10:45 PM

What a fabulous weekend (you know what I mean). I am sure there are gonna be more trips like this. It's great to see people make such an effort to come so far to such a brilliant circuit like the Nurburgring - I for one am making this a regular trip now (next will be my third) and look forward to hooking up with more of you guys in future.

Saf, Yana, John, Chris, Noah and Rolf continued their travels for a while longer.

For information about the Nurburgring and organising trips, check out this fabulous site maintained by a ring fanatic, oh er missus, called Ben Lovejoy. This site is the 'bible' for brits traveling over. There is a write-up of the weekend with even some pictures of the Nissan 180 here.

Thanks everyone who was there for making it a weekend to remember and one which ranks as probably the best car weekend/experiences I have had.

Some pics will follows soon - hopefully !

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