Breidscheid Revisited - March 2000 Trip
If you're here for the photographs, scroll down a bit.
Having spent a couple of months on the 'Ringers mailing list, I decided that the time had come to venture southwards. I noticed a posting from Martin Plant asking if anyone wanted to accompany him on his trip with his E30 M3 over 25-27th March 2000 and I mailed him asking if I could come along for the ride. I have a feeling that Martin still can't quite understand why I went to the 'Ring without actually wanting to drive anything, but I liked it.
I met Martin at an unreasonable time of the morning at Heathrow Airport (West of London), where he was dropping his wife Karen off on holiday. From there we headed south to the Channel Tunnel and drove across Belgium, arriving at the Nordschleife just in time for 5:30 opening. I passengered Martin around a few times and came to the conclusion that I was never going to have the faintest idea where the circuit went. What you can't tell easily from the maps is that as well as having an unreasonable number of corners, the Nordschleife is rather hilly. Portions of the track that look fairly simple on maps become completely different when you realise that you can't see over half of them in real life. For the first few laps I would have to admit to being a little... erm... daunted when Martin put his foot to the floor coming out of Pflanzgarten 2 (which appears to the uninitiated to be a rather tight S-bend over a blind crest).
Just after arriving, we met up with Paul Strong (to be honest, I wouldn't bother clicking on that link unless you like cats) and his Impreza. Both he and Martin had been to the 'Ring a few times before and I hitched a couple of rides around with Paul. His car drove very differently to Martin's; at that time he had standard road suspension on it and compared to the recently-modified M3's setup, it rolled a fair bit. The Subaru, however, was faster in a straight line and when the two went around the track together they were fairly evenly matched.
On the Sunday I passengered for a few more laps and then Paul and I went wandering around looking for some good places to watch. As well as making the Subaru suitably rally-car-muddy, we found the car-park for the Adenauer Forst corners and got some good views of cars coming over Schwedenkreuz. We had Martin's (well, Martin's office's) digital video camera with us and, as we were attempting to work out how to operate it, a newish 3-series BMW came over the brow at the bottom of Schwedenkreuz, realised there appeared to be a corner there, backed off and began to revolve gracefully. Unfortunately, he was already travelling at maybe 80mph and he slid sideways past us in a cloud of smoke, across the apex of the bend (fortunately for him), onto the grass and was barely moving when he slithered into the Armco. Paul and I were pretty sure that he hadn't actually hit the barrier, but it seemed he had... he sat in the car for a bit and then got out, peered at his rear wing, drove slowly to Aremberg and parked up. He stayed there for a bit (perhaps wondering what to put on his insurance claim) and Paul and I moseyed off back to the car park.
We set up some video laps - a couple out of the front of the cars and some quite successful ones filming one car from the back of the other. In both cars, the camera was set up on a tripod in the rear footwells which seemed to work rather well, until the whole assembly fell over coming around T13 and resulting in some rather amusing footage as emergency reassembly took place.
At the Lindenhof on Sunday night we had a few drinks (well, Martin and I had a few proper drinks and Paul had a few glasses of Bailey's) and Martin completely ruined the high-score table for the Cascade game on my Psion Revo. However well I play the game, I can't get anywhere near "Martin M3", "Martin" or "Martin@Lindenhof" on the high-score-table.
On Monday, I stayed in bed until 1pm (a fact Paul and Martin were keen to point out on the second trip), mostly because the Lindenhoff was really amazingly quiet during the night. Ironically enough, I tend to be woken up at all hours of the night in London by people doing handbrake turns in the car park, but met with complete tranquility at the Nürburgring. I passengered Paul and Martin a few more times and at around 4pm we headed back tunnel-ward. Martin dropped me off at Heathrow again, and I was back at work again bright and early on Tuesday. Well, early.
Click on the photographs for an enlarged version.