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Seriously The Best Thing I Have Ever Done...

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Paul Jeffrey, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    RSR Taxi Ride 5.JPG
    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.

    RSR Taxi Ride 4.JPG

    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.

    RSR Taxi Ride 2.JPG

    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.

    RSR Taxi Ride 1.JPG

    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.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2017
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  2. Dave R

    Dave R

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    Awesome to watch (but I'm sure not as awesome as the experience was). Fantastic!!
     
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  3. Andrew Scott

    Andrew Scott
    "Ye Old Convict" Premium

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    Now that would of been a total BUZZ, as you said Paul, something you will never forget with the memory permanently etched in your mind.......forever!!:thumbsup:

    Not wanting to undermine your experience:D, but I will be having a similar experience on 19th November, not at the Green Hell sadly, but here in West Oz @ Barbagallo Raceway. The better half:inlove: has allowed me to book a V8 drive day 10 lap experience with Adrenaline;), first 2 laps are instructor driven, then we swap and I get 10 laps behind the wheel in a 450Bhp six speed Ford V8 track car. To say I'm getting a little exited as the day draws nearer is an understatement:):thumbsup:
     
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  4. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley
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    Absolutely agree 100%
     
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  5. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley
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    ...It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and brought tears of emotional joy to my eyes reading your post...an absolutely amazing memory.
    Watching the lap itself I felt there as well...having driven the virtual one in Raceroom and iRacing hundreds of times I would have to say the track artists in both Sims have done a superb job in capturing the track details and look / feel of the Nordschleife track...awesome stuff...sadly though, the virtual version is as close as I will ever get to the real thing....thanks for sharing that moment
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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  6. darkelf1

    darkelf1

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    Great...:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
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  7. Bert Austen

    Bert Austen
    Pedal tho the metal Men Premium

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    Great .....one of these days ......go there and drive with ....rsr taxi .....cool :O_o:
     
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  8. Buster0083

    Buster0083

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    It's a special place - and it sounds like it was a special experience. I've driven laps around it on a handful of occasions but only recently took a taxi ride (with another operator's M3) and had my barometer on what's possible with a motorcar firmly reset. The adrenaline and exhilaration drips from your words, Paul.
     
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  9. Ramon van Rijn

    Ramon van Rijn

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    Nice writing Paul. This was indeed one of the best moments in my life.
    Next time in the GTR? :)
     
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  10. Andy Jackson

    Andy Jackson
    Veteran member of the PC master race Premium

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    @Paul Jeffrey
    Great write up and a great experience. You will remember it forever.:thumbsup: You are braver than me as I hate being a passenger in a car at the best of times never mind doing the Green Hell with a very fast experienced driver. :confused::notworthy::notworthy:

    Now you just need to to do it riding a 180 bhp superbike. I have done 3 laps (on my GSXR1000) and it was a blast and something I wont ever forget too. Scary as hell but what a rush. I nearly started smoking again after I had finished. :sick::)
     
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  11. Damage Inc

    Damage Inc

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    so jealous!
     
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  12. Rob Every

    Rob Every

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    I did this a few years ago.

    I went to another place as RSR were quite pricey compared to them, they were very good. I paid for the car for a full day with laps included. Was about 600 Euros as I recall, didn't even matter if I filled up to give it back! I thought pretty cheap considering laps were 23 odd Euros a pop and I got 12, a full tank, and the hire for a day. And a full tank of gas.

    The car was immaculate, and it is kind of weird driving away in a road going race car, driving to the track entrance and then just blasting out there

    It was damp when I went out early on and I was cacking myself, car was only fwd, but I had never driven on semi slicks before so was very nervous!

    No helmets, no timing gear, nothing, just me and the Schleife. Got to the bridge and floored it, as a 430 blatted past!! Then to help my nerves got to the cut through at the top where the old pits are and just threw the damn thing in as hard as I could, it just ploughed on and felt very safe, so that was my confidence inspired.

    I knew the track very well from simming, but the gradient is very much more obvious. But the sims help enormously as long as you respect the place. If you always cut in some areas in the game, have a look first before you try cutting for real. I found it very similar so was confident in cutting and taking the lines I always did in games. Some areas that are hard in the game are much easier for real as it is nowhere near as bumpy as the games portray it. The foxhole is not as bad, the latter parts of the lap are not as bad.

    But you are very aware that you are not in your own car, the excess was 3500 Euros if I wrote it off, so you can't push fully on.

    My biggest problem was car sickness. I got it after about 4 laps. Started feeling very nauseous and on my final lap had to really slow down. So I had to take the car back and get a load of laps back. Real bummer and something I had had in karts before, but never a car. Inner ear issues apparently

    So my advice would be to anyone, don't buy a bunch of laps or rent a car for a day, as you may get car sick, even with driving as I did, it is not uncommon, but it does ruin your day and is obviously expensive.

    Having said that, the place has an aura about it and an atmosphere like no other race track anywhere. It is daunting, intimidating, fascinating and genuinely one of the coolest places I have ever been.

    And I went with a load of people who were not that into cars and stuff, and they felt the same!
     
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  13. Lars Hansen

    Lars Hansen
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    I vote for that one as quote of the day. :D
     
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  14. Eddy

    Eddy
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    That was a long article but thoroughly enjoyed it that I had to stop reading this morning so I wasn't late for work and just finished reading it at lunch, will give the video a watch now, I'm sure it'll be just as awesome
     
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  15. Spinelli

    Spinelli

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    Nothing suprising here. Many people, especially simracers or racing/car guys, think they have a good idea of what racing in real life is like and then get blown into another dimension when they experience a top driver truly bringing a car to it's limit (especially under extreme braking combined into corner-entry on the very limit).

    You have to train your mind and body that the car will not crash but infact somehow will go around the corner at that speed. and when...if....you finally push through that barrier and somehow get the car around the corner at that speed, and brake that late,...another guy comes along who somehow brakes later and/or somehow carries more speed into the corner even though you sensed the car was already on the limit of what's physically possible. Your brain doesn't understand how later braking or a faster corner-speed is possible and you try to repeat the process.
     
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  16. chargingcar

    chargingcar
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  17. Ivan Vejarano

    Ivan Vejarano
    "The Terrible" Premium

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    Holy s... that's awesome.... btw can you go there take a lesson? and drive for yourself? In a rented car...? im curious ! thanks for sharing this beautiful exp. Peace :speechless:
     
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  18. Bobby Pennington

    Bobby Pennington
    Assetto Corsa Club Manager Staff Premium

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    Thanks for sharing the experience Paul. It looks like you boys had a great time and a memory that is unbelievable. I did something similar, but nowhere near as much fun nor as exciting.....3 quali laps around a 1.5 mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's between 180-190mph so you get to feel a little speed.
    Alright you Aussie Convict m8 of mine:D:D We're all coming over and riding with you:p @Dirk Steffen @Allan Ramsbottom we've got a plane to catch and a Convict as a wheelman for some shenanigans:roflmao::roflmao::roflmao:
     
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  19. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Awww man that sounds incredible! Have a great time buddy and don't forget to share a video :)

    Yes I believe you can both have lessons (Ron is chief instructor) and also rent race cars for the day. I recall seeing Clio's and a few others with "rent a race car" on the side. In fact, I think we pass a couple on the lap video above if i'm not mistaken.

    Must say though, I recommend taking a taxi lap (even though I was against it at the time) as what the pro's can do blows you away.

    Super fun, maybe a 2018 RD organised road trip? Who's up for it???
     
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  20. Allan Ramsbottom

    Allan Ramsbottom
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    ..
    EH!!!!..Its bad enough waiting for him to catch us up sim racing:cautious::cautious:,never mind getting in a REAL car knocking out 450 horses ,:redface::redface:,can just picture the aussie T........................@*%$ missing the first Apex:thumbsdown::thumbsdown::whistling::whistling:,then saying...................."Well the brakes" were cold,was that a bit of oil on the track,oohhh its was a bit foggy,damp track................Me personally...Im staying put........................I no i will be SAFE:laugh::laugh::laugh::p:p:p:roflmao::roflmao::roflmao:
     
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