The Nürburgring. Know it? Well, if not, here are some clues:
Nürburgring is a race track
Nürburgring is a public toll road
Nürburgring is a testing center for new cars
Nürburgring is a strip of asphalt where you can drive a 13 mile lap in your car at racing speed for a mere 15 Euros.
Jackie Stewart called the Nürburgring "The Green Hell."
Germany's Nurburgring opened on June 18th, 1927, as The Nürburg-Ring, a 14 mile twisty devil of a race track. It had 172 corners then, too many for a driver to remember the exact racing line through all of them. Meaning, of course, that the best racing driver could pull off amazing feats of showmanship--if he was brave enough.
Take Juan Manual Fangio, for example. Loosing the lead after a horrendous pit stop near the end of the 1957 German Grand Prix, he managed to break the lap record by 12 seconds on three consecutive laps to take over the lead and win the race. He quit racing a year later, as if he had reached the pinnacle and there was nowhere else to go, "I believe that on that day in 1957 I finally managed to master the Nürburgring, making those leaps in the dark on those curves where I had never before had the courage to push things so far."
There is likely to never be another race track like The Nürburgring again.
What you can do at The Nürburgring on your European Vacation
In a word, "lots." Here are just a few suggestions:
Drive laps around Nurburgring in your car by purchasing a ringcard .
Get driven around Nurburgring at speed by a pro in the BMW-Ring-Taxi (or "taxi through the green hell" if you need that sickness bag). You can fit up to three people in the BMW. This is a popular ride. People reserve up to a year in advance.
There are even hiking trails around the Nurburgring, and a museum. The Nurburgring is expanding its resources all the time.
How to get to The Nürburgring
The Nürburgring is located 90 km southwest of Cologne or 60 km northwest of Koblenz. The nearest airports are Köln Bonn (80 km) an Duesseldorf (120 km). Be sure to follow the directions to Nürburg rather than Nürnberg.
Driving The Nürburgring
Driving the portion of the track you're allowed to drive (it's not the F1 circuit) probably isn't for everyone. But if you like speed, you might want to do something few ever think of doing on their vacations. What's driving the Nurburgring like? Well, Ben Lovejoy has a section for beginners you should read.
Can't sell a few laps of The Nürburgring to that significant other of yours? Well, how about we look at driving from a different angle. Safety. Yes, you can really learn to handle what life throws in front of your squealing tires at the Nürburgring Driving Safety Center. A one day intensive driving course will cost a mere 130-170 Euros depending on the day and the season. C'mon, what's your life worth, anyway? I highly recommend learning to handle a car well, especially when driving in a country which offers very little distinction between a race course and a toll road.
Best Nürburgring Resources
Nurburgring Official Site- Get information on a variety of activities for the whole family at Nürburg, including walking to the Nürburg castle.
Ben Lovejoy's Nurburgring Site - the most comprehensive Ring site on the web? Well, it just may be.