During the recent Sim Racing Expo event over in Germany, RaceDepartment had the opportunity to try out the Nordschleife with a very special driver... and it was spectacular! Now let me get something out of the way up front. This is not a paid article, nor is it written in return for any kind of favour or with a hidden agenda. This is simply my rather poor attempt to covey to our readers the sheer euphoria, unbridled joy and absolute excitement that comes with a taxi lap ride around the beautiful Nordschleife with Ron Simons of RSRNurburg behind the wheel. Because we were in attendance for the Sim Racing Expo this week, and the event was held very close to the famous old circuit thanks to the ties with the Blancpain Sprint Series round at the Nurburgring, we simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to get our out of shape behinds out on the circuit to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. Now when this was first proposed down in the RD staff area, I very firmly wanted to rent a race car and go drive myself, thinking that having a ride with another person behind the wheel couldn't possibly be any kind of fun compared to doing the duty yourself. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Now before I go on to share the story (and video) of our ride, I just want to paraphrase something @Bram Hengeveld said once we got out of the car around 8 minutes and 10 seconds after setting off... I have never, ever in my whole life pushed a car to even 1% of the performance Simons managed that day on the Green Hell. Literally he was that good. No amount of experience in junior race cars / karts / sims or even motion rigs give you the feeling experienced in the BMW M4 we had on that day. Not even close. Now let me get something straight, I'm no fool and I've been around racing for pretty much all of my 33 years on this earth. I've raced a fair bit of different kit at different levels, I've attended countless races of all different kinds and I've sim raced pretty much everything the genre has to offer, so I feel fairly safe in the knowledge that I know what I'm talking about in racing terms, and surely I know what to expect when heading out on to a live race track. I don't. I seriously had no idea just how good this experience would be. I'm trying hard not to swear here, as it feels like I can't convey enough emotion in just words. Seriously, this lap was right up at the top of my person "awesomeness" list of life experiences. Absolutely amazing, and this is written several days after the actual lap, back in good old England and after all the fuss has died down. That's how good it still feels, even now. So before we get to the video (how many people have skipped the text already and gone straight to film?) let us tell you a bit about how we got to this point, who's involved and how you can book some of this goodness for yourself (seriously, if you live outside of Germany it is worth just going for the day and doing a lap). That's my plan, and taking the wife for good measure! As mentioned earlier, we had an idea that we wanted to go on track ourselves, and looking around it appeared that maybe taking to the track behind the wheel could get costly (some quotes of over £16k damage excess in case of accidents), and with the track offering running to such a bizarre and diverse array of vehicles we decided it would be best to go with a professional and see how well they can wheel a car around the 14.2 mile circuit. Checking out the net we found several different driving experience options, however RSR generally came out on top in the rankings, and with the close relationship they have with Assetto Corsa (they even had a simulation in the briefing lounge) it seemed like a perfect partner for our experience. Fortunately we were given the opportunity to ride with a man who has more that 15,000 laps around the circuit, chief instructor and RSR CEO Ron Simons. With plenty of outright pace himself and literally the most experience of the track of anyone alive or dead, Simons sure as anything knows how to pedal a car around this track. Keen to turn up early for the big day and get acquainted with the circuit surrounds and to shoot some b-reel with the drone, we set off early from RD HQ high up in the mountains, only to quickly stumble across an organised walk on the main highway of what appeared to be a Christian group, complete with massive Crucifix and image of Jesus. A slightly unnerving start to the day... to make matters worse and to do little to calm our somewhat jangling nerves, once we got to the track the action on circuit abruptly stopped for some time. Curious as to what happened, a little asking around eventually confirmed a big accident occurred, involving someone rolling a rather expensive Chevrolet Corvette road car. Not good. By this stage a couple of our honorary staff members looked rather pale in the waiting room... Ok so risk to life and limb felt rather real at this stage, so to calm things down a bit (in between several free cups of coffee...) we decided to have a go on the AC simulator in the corner of the room.. and crashed, several times. Also not good. Several changes of underwear later and a suspicious number of bathroom breaks for all concerned, the man himself showed up to usher us all to our car. Oh and what a car it was! Standard BMW M4? Nope. This thing had brake pads as big as my sofa at home. Seriously big pieces of kit, and as it transpired out on track, Simons would need every ounce of stopping power at his disposal for our laps. Fat tyres? Check. Stiff suspension? Check. More horsepower than factory standard? Check. This unassuming car is a beast, no doubt about it. Lucky for me I had the pleasure of going out on the first run, however surprisingly to both myself and our live Facebook audience watching online, Bram appeared to have been swapped for an overly excited 13 year old boy. I learnt new swear words and exclamations of excitement from him throughout the lap. The transformation was impressive.. Curious to see for yourself? No worries, check out our lap below! I really do not have a vocabulary even close to good enough to explain how much fun our time with RSR and the BWM M4 was at the Nordschleife that day. The thrill of going sideways at over 160kph with a steel Armco barrier just feet away from you is a very difficult experience to describe in words. It was fun on a level I honestly never thought possible with your clothes on. The way our BMW seemed to skip over the tarmac as the car careered into what looked like certain oblivion is a memory that will stay with me forever. Simply amazing. One of the stand out moments for me would be the way I could feel what the car was doing through my backside, a sentiment often shared by many professional racing drivers throughout the history of the sport, and something I myself have regularly felt when out on the racetracks of the UK in various vehicles. The way you can feel the actual wheels themselves trying to snap off as unbelievable forces are pushed through them at ridiculous speeds is a very unsettling thing to experience, especially when not in control of the car yourself... But probably the most noticeable thing for me, and the biggest thing I will take away from our ride with Ron is the sheer violence of the ride around the track. From the way the car reacts to the many bumps and undulations of this historic circuit to the forces exerted through the tyres when clouting the curbs on the many corners, the way you are so violently and relentlessly exposed to these very real and very dramatic sensations is something no amount of spectating and sim racing can come close to preparing you for. It is a sensation that quite honestly takes your breath away. Taking into account how blown away I am by this lap, and that is in "just" a spiced up road car, now imagine doing the same thing in a GT3 spec throughbread race car, with 70 odd rivals trying to take your piece of tarmac, in a 24 hour race, with mixed weather conditions in both day and night. If nothing else I've learnt a new found respect for racing drivers. For many years I've watched from either TV or trackside and thought to myself "I can do that". Well I'm wrong. I can't, and never will. Racing drivers are athletes doing something at the very edge of what is possible for a human to do, and for that I have a new and ever lasting respect. If you are on the fence about trying this for yourself, or simply don't believe what I've written I advise you, no I implore you, go try it yourself. It will be one of the best things you have ever done, trust me on that. On behalf of myself, RaceDepartment and all that were present that day, thank you Ron Simons and RSRNurburg.. You have made a memory that will live with me for the rest of my life. You sir, are a legend.