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“My First Time at the Nürburgring”

Davide Nativo

Columnist for RaceDepartment

Let’s share our stories, about how we first learned driving on this iconic track.

Deciding to tackle this challenge, and learn driving the Nordschleife, is not an easy task. More than 20 kilometres of winding roads, depending on the layout you choose to drive on, made of small and big bumps, easy and tricky jumps, changes of elevations, camber and, whenever simulated, road conditions. It is one of those cases where you just decide to make a step forward, to prove you can do it too. Whether it is because you read about this legendary venue, saw epic races unfold on it, or just want to prove your skills for yourself or against other simracers, you understand that it is time to go bigger.

For years, I refused to drive on this track. ‘Understandably’, I tended to say to myself as if to offer a convenient excuse to hide behind, since my first proper sim was Grand Prix Legends. The Nordschleife there was just terrifying. Every corner could be the very last of your race, or practice stint, as it was incredibly easy to misjudge an apex entry, and losing grip was an all of a sudden experience where you could find yourself facing the wrong side of the road without warning. It was not a pleasant experience.


Sure, that did not discourage many other people that mastered it back then, and sure, I just had to practice more, or simply be bolder. I took the easy way out instead. Effortlessly, I said to myself that driving there was crazy (which is kind of true, after all), pointless, and that since I could be competitive in all of the other 10 locations there were in the game, I did not need to get mad over one simple place. I did not want to admit to myself the obvious, that that was not just “a simple place”. The king was naked, as the saying goes[1], but I refused to see it, and my simracing adventure went on.

Fast forward in time, by quite a lot of time honestly, and there I was, much older, not that much wiser all considering, completing the career mode of Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends. Not a sim by any means, still a very enjoyable game, it was fun to race a quite solid collection of Ferrari cars around some decently detailed tracks. As I was saying, physics were not that great (you could not spin the rear tyres, no matter what, just to name one of its big flaws) and it had outstanding bugs and an unconvincing AI, but somehow it managed to deliver what a casual racing game should be: relaxation from stress. Moreover, for someone like me who actually likes grinding (yes I do), the career was just perfect.


One (great) feature it had was that you could split the Nordschleife in different sectors (three, if my memory serves me right) and learn it gradually. The circuit itself was properly modelled, and there was a quite good-looking Ferrari 312/67 48 valve in the game’s roster. Tempting. I had come up to a point where I wanted, even though in such a safe environment, to see if I could maybe have better fortune than I had years before. I was still blinded by my own lies, believing after all that the track was not worth its reputation.

I then experienced a catharsis, a big one.

Driving systematically, sector through sector, I learned it by throwing the 312 around it, and the more I drove, the more fun I had. When I started recognizing every corner, clock decent lap times, and I was not crashing anymore, I understood that I simply wanted more. Long story short? Now I cannot stand a racing game or sim that has not the Nordschleife included (thankfully, that list is very slim nowadays). I also went back to GPL, even though the track there is still quite a different beast compared to the others, and it took me some time and effort to find any grade of confidence around that version too. Still, I would not consider myself to have it fully mastered yet in the old Papy sim, even after all these years.

As intricate as my “love story” with this circuit goes, I am sure that because of the nature of the place, I am not alone. Our lives are one big eventful narration made of many smaller interesting stories, and I am certain that it would be quite surprising to read about the way you too came to terms with the ‘Green Hell’. If you have any experience also at the real track, tell us about how that came to be. I believe that what makes learning the Nordschleife memorable is not the process itself, but the reasons why it happened.

As for me, I am off to another simracing adventure at this time of my life. This one’s called “Targa Florio”…


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[1] Referring to "The Emperor's New Clothes", a short story by Hans Christian Andersen.
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I have tried and tried and tried to 'love' this track... but I just can't...

Maybe it's because i'm not worthy of it yet and can never get in a groove because it's so long!!!

Played it lots in Forza etc and hated it...

I learned it properly by doing lap after lap in the Mustang in iRacing last year...
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Gran Turismo 5. There was this thing where you had been given the old Gullwing Mercedes and drive it Sector by Sector just to complete a whole lap afterwards. The same to be repeated with the SLS AMG. But actually never liked driving it back then because it was so freaking hard with only a controller. Same on GT6. Got Assetto Corsa years later and didn't want to spent money on the DLCs, so I always stuck with that mod, Snoopy's Nordschleife it was called. One day in a Steam sale I bought all of the DLCs then and thats when I started on the laserscanned Nordschleife, my first lap then for sure with the Glickenhaus. Love it since then and now every corner by heart. Thats probably the track where I spent my most virtual tracktime on!

Captain Condescending

Nerd, Petrol Head, Professional Noob
PGR4 on Xbox 360! Yeeting an F430 Scuderia around the endurance layout in icy conditions lap after lap against the AI and a friend. Good memories, although I can say it prepared me for how the track SHOULD be driven... :p
On GTR Evolution, my first racing sim (and one of the best!).
I had tried most "normal" tracks and decided to join a multiplayer server running the Nordschleife, with me in the Gulf-liveried Aston Martin DBR9 (the GT1 symphony on four wheels).
I also recall having to go to (Latin) private lessons, so I hurried to get at least one lap in. It never seemed to end...
Gran Turismo 4, I remember cheating by using the wall on the outside of the Karussel
I thought this was about real life experience

one thing that really made me learn it some was the driving challenge in Gran turismo sport, where to get gold , you have to do a pretty decent time, with almost no room for errors

some people can drive this 30 seconds faster, so it's by no means "mastering" the track



PFFT! This is a waste of time! I've know this track when I was young and single. The first time I drove this track in A PC GAME was in SHIFT. Then Shift 2 unleashed, even NFS in the SONY PSP! Then RF2, iRacing and lastly, in the sim where I became decent driving on this track, in Assetto Corsa!

I can't tell, I've lost count of the years I've tried and tried. I remember I've won a race in iRacing once. A race that I never expected to win! When every other alien crashed out! Then when I thought I was decent and fast, I expected myself to win in an SRS race in AC and I crashed! Nowadays, with very limited seat time, I always just fire up AC and race with AIs at least 3, maybe 4 times a month only and exclusively on this track.

Of all those years that I wasted learning this track! All I can say is, it's time well wasted! :roflmao:

Now married with a son and middle aged, I still waste my time every single chance that I have spare time to waste! No other track I've spent that long to learn! But I will remember every corners until I can't sit in my SIM anymore when I get arthritis when I get old...

PS: I know Nordschleife very well, but I still fail hopelessly whenever hosts decides to use combined and other layouts that include the old track. It's Nords or Streck stand alone, but never combined! :D
Gran Turismo 4 license tests. I hated the track back then, but now it's one of my favourites. Throwing a GT3 arround those corners on Rfactor 2 is probably one of the best sim racing experiences I've had.


I wouldn't say I know it well yet, the last 1/4 or so before the long straight anyway I have to be very cautious (dunno if it's Wippermann but around there) Mostly I do tourist style laps, not racing though.
I learned it as back in the day there was a competition for Gran Turismo 4 in the Benelux (Belgium/Holland and Luxemburg), to set the fastest time on the ring in a Chrysler Crossfire. I wanted to participate and I had no other choice than to overcome my stage fright. Ended up 14th or 17th I think and was very proud of that. :D
I hated this track in NFS:Shift, and in Shift 2 also. It was much harder comparing to the other tracks. Then after several years I bought Project Cars but I still hated the track (I love PC). I bought Assetto Corsa after that and I started to time trial it. It took my 4 hours of practise to get a clean lap in a BMW Z4 GT3! Then it took me 1,5 hour practise for the KTM X-bow, I've done the Nordschleife challenge (drive around a clean lap as fast as I can) around 30 times in AC and several times in Project Cars 2, although I like the driving physics in AC more.
As a german, I can't remember a time where the Nordschleife wasn't the most iconic and dangerous track maybe in the world, most definitely in Germany. Every TV show, every article it was mentioned, the Nordschleife has been described as the special and tough track that it is so I've been indoctrinated. Rightfully so.

I think I did my first lap in Forza Motorsport 1, I can't rember the first lap I completed without crashing but I can feel the satisfaction of doing so in every lap I drive.

I've driven a lot of inaccurate versions in many games before but the fact, that we live in a time where all major Sims provide a laserscanned version of the Nordschleife is still baffling to me.
You can try to beat Stefan Bellofs record, drift the Yellowbird or reanact the VLN and other iconic moments with great accuracy in comparison to the real counterpart.

But there's a little drawback as well. The experience you get in the sim won't come close to lapping the real thing. I did my first lap in a 316i compack BMW and to see and feel the elevation changes, the corners and sorroundings was very intense, despite the car.

It's hard to describe how I truly feel about the Nordschleife, but I can say that I haven't driven more laps on any other track while it's the longest track I know by heart and it's the first track I'd pick to test a car on. I love it!
there is a difference between the new and old layout of the nord. The old layout in real life
was more harder to drive with all bumps and green fences
I am still waiting for a remake1967 track with all the bumps and the green fences.. I hope to see this in simracing.
Gran Tourismo 4 was where it started for me, there was this 24 hour event and I decided I wanted to do it in real time, I ended up racing the Mines R34 GTR across 4 stints pausing the game in between, that’s where I really learnt the corners of this epic circuit. It wasn’t until years later that I gotten in to sim racing via Assetto Corsa and instantly fell in love with the track again. I ran hundreds if not thousands of laps on it but it wasn’t until I got to the Porsche GT3RS challenge that I truly felt like I could push hard. I spent months chasing that magical sub 7:20.000 time for the gold achievement, and when the lap that finally got it came it was for me one of those take your breath away kind of laps (I race purely in VR). Even thinking about it now every inch and bump on the track was used and every corner was at ten tenths pace.

In real life I have had the pleasure of steering a BMW E92 M3 around the track and it is as awesome and as scary experience as you could imagine. On the day I was there was massive fog at the start of the lap, rain in the middle of the lap, and clear sunshine towards the end of the lap, they say you can see 4 seasons in one lap, I don’t doubt it. This track is truly one of a kind.