Motor Monday: The Nurburgring Is Fine, Please Stop Crying

Posted by: Matt Iasenzaniro onJuly 2nd, 2015

[“Wait a minute, it’s not Monday!” … Shhhhhhh]

The internet is alight over the Nurburgring’s management company enforcing speed limits on a few of its sections for everyone, including sanctioned races and manufacturer testing, after the tragic death of a spectator when a vehicle lifted off the track and flew into stands. Artificial speed limits in motorsport pretty much defeat the purpose, negatively affecting the spectacle for fans and likely taking away from the drivers’ experience as well. Now, of course the German Motorsport Association had to work with Nurburgring management to do something. The only thing worse than a spectator death would be another spectator death caused by the exact same thing. There wasn’t enough time to either fix the course or remove the stands in that area, so they implemented a speed limit. Just about anything else would have been knee-jerk and likely executed without the necessary planning to make sure it’s the best course of action. They did the same thing any one of us would do at our own job. Band-aid it for now and fix it properly after thinking about it sans fire under our asses. Yes it sucks, but I think they made the right call.

Of course, my opinion hinges on the fact that this will be temporary. They’ve promised to revisit the speed limits at the end of the year and I’m banking on them saying “Yeah, this just won’t do”. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe management won’t like the cost of implementing a better solution and the speed limits will stay forever. Green Hell would turn into Green Gables and I’d be right there with you, having a good cry.

But unless you watch a lot of races at the ‘Ring, this really hasn’t affected Joe Public at all and there’s no reason for all the current whining. Car makers will continue to develop their cars there, as they always have, and you can still take your 2002 330i and pretend you’re a race car driver. You sure as hell aren’t hitting the 200 and 250 km/h speed limits. The reason people are upset seems to be because they’ve lost the e-peen contest which allows them to justify buying a car that is way too stiff and expensive for daily driving. Nurburgring lap times stopped being fun and started being marketing tactics the moment we started getting times in the FWD Econosport category. $40,000 cars that will most likely end up being grocery getters are making headlines for their lap times and some people are eating it up. They’re justifying their purchase based on how fast it went around a lap which is longer than their drive to Taco Bell. You like the car you bought, cool, that’s great. I encourage everybody to be proud of what they’ve got, but you have gone Matt Damon if you try to tell me that being forced to take speed bumps at an 80* angle, running 25 profile tires and having less suspension travel than a Radio Flyer constitutes the ultimate daily driver. I know this might sound like I’m railing against getting a fun car for a daily driver, I promise I’m not, but there is absolutely a line between a daily driver and a track car, and some of these things cross it for no reason.

Am I sad that the speed limits are in place? Yes. I think there are better ways to improve safety while maintaining the spectacle of racing.
Do I think it will get better? Yes. A race track with speed limits is ridiculous and ‘Ring management must know that.
Am I upset that these limits may end the monthly update of “Toyota’s new Camry just CRRRRRRRRRRRUSHED the FWD mid-size sedan Nurburgring record” headlines? Not in the slightest.

When he’s not busy writing about cars or travelling the auto show circuit, he’s reviewing apps and video games related to the automotive world. In his spare time, Matt is a motorcycle enthusiast, trying not to kill himself riding along with the crazy local drivers. He is also a weekly contributor in the Motor Mondays segment on News Talk 770.

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