When Gustav Eichler sat down at his drafting table at the Eichler Architekturbüro to consider the best method for replicating the spirit of the Targa Florio track in the Eifel mountains he might have hoped, but couldn’t have known, that we’d continue to celebrate his work all these decades later.
When these men took to their shovels in 1925, they couldn’t have known the impact their work would have 85 years later. Today we bemoan the lack of spirit and beauty and challenge in contemporary racetrack design. Eichler didn’t have to consider television angles, or jumbotron placement, or semi trailers, or spectator views, or access roads. He didn’t have to consider run-off areas or medical access either. Perhaps we’re just using the wrong inspirations. When you set out to please sanctioning bodies and television producers and spectators, rather than replicating the country roads that have always truly made the best racing courses, the compromise already creates a ceiling on what can be achieved.
Seeing these photographs of men with hand shovels and pick-axes carving the world’s most celebrated racing course out of the mountains and forests surrounding the village of Nürburg almost makes the fantasy of gathering some friends, renting a bulldozer, and replicating their efforts seem possible. Just look at these people. The only heavy construction machinery I see is the steam roller—one that would probably be considered small today.
Was this the first race on the 'ring?
What do you say? Anyone have a large parcel of land—preferably forested, preferably in the low mountains—that they want to donate to the cause? Who’s got a pick-axe and some time on their hands?