Driving the Remainders of the Sudschleife

I guess it just never occurred to me that a good deal of the Nürburgring’s Sudschleife survived after it fell into disuse in the early 70s and was (largely) demolished to make way for the GP circuit. How about a pleasantly leisurely drive around what remains?

Nürburgring 1936

The Demolition of AVUS’s Nordkurve

Drivers React to Germany’s Bilster Berg Resort

I love the idea of these driving resorts, and I hope that Bilster Berg is a huge success. There’s a lot of love in this video of racing drivers’ reactions to their initial experiences on the track. Directed by GT Racer’s Alexander Davidis, there’ll be some familiar faces here for fans of the series. But there’s also some tremendous vintage racing machinery in the form of E-Type Lightweights, 911s, Austin-Healeys.

One thing in particular stood out as drivers describe the difficulty in learning the track and the learning curve in coming to terms with its compact complexity. One driver says it requires many, many laps before you start to get it right; another driver says a couple of hundred laps would be necessary to learn it properly. That sounds about right for a track that has been described as a mini-Nürburgring.

Did you catch what Derek Bell said, though? “To come back on my own without other cars, just sort of do five or six laps to get it all together”.

A couple hundred laps vs. Five or six laps. That right there is the difference between even a highly skilled racing driver and Derek Bell.

A Nürburgring Love Story

I can’t speak German. I suffer from the same clichéd American point-of-view that zee Germanic languages sound threatening and guttural. I know that’s not fair and I’m working on it.

This video helps. Somehow the hushed reverence with which this narrator describes the Ring makes German sound like a soft, romantic, seductive language.

Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with Von Trips, the Ring, and a Bolex camera.

Not that it needs to be said, but Save the Ring.

Available in Germany: 1964/5 Volkswagen Single-Cab with Porsche Formula V

Porsche Factory Formula Vee and VW Transporter

If there’s anything I’m terrible at hiding, it’s my love for Porsche, Formula V, and racing transporters. Rarely though, do I have an opportunity to wrap all of that volcanic enthusiasm in a single image. That changes today. Would you just look at that.

Wow.

Porsche Factory Formula Vee

I’ve seen a Porsche-powered Formula V car before. On that occasion, it was evident how much faster the Formula V platform could be pushed with just that bump in power that even a period Porsche powerplant could provide. In that introduction to the concept I believe it was a 356 engine doing the heavy work (or was it 912?). When I first saw this example, I assumed it would also have the higher powered 356 engine back there. This one, however, is powered, like all vintage vees, by a 1200 cc Volkswagen type 1 engine. Why then, are we referring to this as a “Porsche Formula V”, when it’s not much different than any other Formcar? What is that Porsche sticker doing on the engine cover? Is this just someone’s wishful thinking?

Porsche Factory Formula Vee and VW Transporter

No. This one was built by Porsche in Werk 1 and campaigned by Hans Herrmann, Gerhard Mitter and Ben Pon with support from the Porsche factory during their period promoting Formula Vee as a new feeder series. It may have a Formcar frame and a VW engine, but in a very real sense this is an authentic team Porsche open-wheel racing car. There’s mighty few cars that can fit that description. Even with the included (914 powered) custom—and amazing—transporter, this one is sure to be oceans cheaper than any other car that can fit that description. Except perhaps the single other surviving Porsche factory Formcar.

Can you imagine pulling into the paddock at the wheel of this red beauty with that seemingly ordinary Formcar perched so delicately on her haunches? Can you imagine pulling into the false grid at the wheel of a car once piloted by Hermann? Can you imagine doing it in one of the best vintage racing series? Whew.

More information on Jan Luehn’s detail page.

A Spot of Rain at the 1960 German GP

Dan Gurney's Lotus 18 gridding up for the 1960 German GP

Ringmeisters and Regenmeisters

Ok, so it was on the Sudschleife. And sure, it was a Formula 2 race. But I still wouldn’t want to have to hold a line in weather this wet on tires this thin with that much power behind my spine.

Jo Bonnier won the day in his Porsche 718. His racing suit must have been soaked to the waist. Brave. Wet. And Brave.

More Onboard at the Südschleife

Formula Vees on the Nürbugring Südschleife

It was only the big events that were raced on the combined glory of the North and South loops of the Nürburgring into it’s complete 17 mile configuration. Of course, the Nordschleife got all the fame and left it’s little brother Südschleife to languish away alone: oft-forgotten and little loved (even in its prime) compared to the more challenging technical turns of the Nordschleife.

Today, while much of the public roads remain, the connecting pathways to the Nordschleife were destroyed during the construction of the GP circuit. This Formula Vee race from 1968 though, shows the Südschleife in all its glory. It must be hard to be considered great when the basis for comparison is the Nordschleife but on it’s own this looks like a hell of a track. Also, helicopter footage of the F-V race? Who would have thought….

Let’s hope at the Nordschleife lives on in more than just videos of this kind 50 years from now.

Track Map of the Past: the Ring