‘You must go to the Nurburging 24h,’ SCG founder Jim Glickenhaus told us when we interviewed him at the Geneva motor show earlier this year. ‘It’s like Woodstock and Burning Man festival, with a race going on at the same time.’
‘It’s the least German event you can imagine’, said a press officer for another team. ‘It’s badly organised, it’s dangerous, most of the crowd is drunk, it’s like a race from the ’70s. It’s one of a kind.’
We had to see it for ourselves. CAR’s James Taylor, James Dennison and photographer Tom Chapman were trackside and backstage at N24 2017 – here’s a snapshot or two from two days and a night of racing at ‘The Green Hell.’
A race with big numbers
Some of the numbers associated with the Nurburgring 24h warrant a double-take:
- 180 cars, setting off in staggered rolling starts
- 600 drivers
- 900 marshals
- Each lap covers 15.8 miles
- 170 corners (or thereabouts, depending on who you ask)
- A crowd in excess of 250,000 people
The first 24h ’Ring race was in 1970; there have been 45 since.
Time for heroes
The Wall of Nurburgring legends is full of iconic names. Graham Hill, Jacky Ickx, Tom Kristensen, Jochen Mass and Niki Lauda all feature on the list of Ringmeisters.
The spice of life
The variation of cars on the grid is immense, from full manufacturer-backed Audi Sport, AMG and Porsche teams to the RLE International-sponsored Ford Focus. Yet, despite the vast gap in experience and resources, every car still has to fight for the same piece of narrow tarmac.
Happy birthday AMG
50 years of AMG called for a small celebration. And what better way to do it than to wheel out some AMGs past and present, including the historic 300 SEL 6.8 affectionately known as ‘The Red Pig’. The first car to be professionally raced under the famous three-letter acronym, half a century of road and racing cars started here.
Happy birthday AMG, love BMW
Never those to miss an opportunity to have a little fun with its rivals, BMW sent a special message to AMG on its 50th anniversary.
A historic race for ‘old-timer’ and ‘young-timer’ cars kicks off the racing programme. Some stunning cars include plenty of old 911s in a variety of iconic liveries, and there was plenty of on- and over-the-limit action, despite the cars’ values.
World Touring Car Championship – on the support bill
You know a race is a big deal when one of the support races is the World Touring Car Championship. The world’s top tin-top series completed two hairy-looking races on the full Nordschleife circuit; marshals appeared unmoved.
We caught up with British driver Alexander Sims ahead of the race. Clearly a glutton for punishment, he was entered in not one but two cars in the same race, for the Rowe racing BMW M6 GT3 team.
‘The traffic and the narrow circuit are the two main factors of the N24. It’s like Le Mans, in that there are different classes, but here there are 20 different classes, and in a GT3 car the closing speeds versus a Clio or a Golf are just staggering. For 24 hours you’re ducking and diving. It’s such a fine balance between being cautious and losing time.’
A busy weekend for Audi
The 2017 Nurburgring 24h was the debut race for Audi’s new R8 GT4 car, which shares around 60% of its components with the road car (as opposed to the top-category R8 GT3, which has around 40% of its parts in common with the production R8).
For the first time, every model from Audi Sport customer racing range were competing at the same weekend: the R8 GT3, the R8 GT4, the RS3 LMS in the 24h, and the Audi Sport TT Cup support race.
Qualifying begins on Thursday and concludes on Friday, with a 2-lap shoot-out for the top 30 fastest cars.
Glickenhaus grabs pole
And it’s the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003 that qualifies fastest. It’s a popular outcome; a small independent marque that designed its car specifically for the Nurburgring 24h, there’s a lot of warmth towards them. ‘I’m really happy for them,’ Alexander Sims told us. ‘They’ve invested a lot in this race, it’s a nice story.’
Here’s a closer look at the SCG’s headlight stack. Designed to cut through the pitch black of the Nordschleife’s forest sections, the front-running cars include powerful flasher lights to usher backmarkers out of their path.
Up close with the SCG 003
The access possible at the N24 is incredible; anyone with a ticket can go to the back of the garages, and anyone with a media pass can nip inside (even us). Here’s the pole-sitting SCG 003, which shares its cramped garage with its sister car and two Renault Clio Cup cars – summing up the sheer variety of the N24 grid.
BMW M8: first look
BMW’s M Division gave the world a preview of its upcoming M8 luxury performance car, as a camouflaged prototype completed a demo lap of the circuit before the start of the 24h race.