The Nürburgring is to car nuts what St. Andrews is to golfers and what Wimbledon is to tennis fans. The Ring is sacred ground in the world of motorsports. It's one of those places that so many of us dream of visiting, yet so few have a chance to do. Instead, we go on Alaskan boat cruises, tours of the Eiffel Tower or bake in the sun on a tropical beach. Well, I'm here to tell you that instead of packing your sandals and board shorts for your next vacation, pack your helmet and race shoes instead because a visit to Germany and the Nürburgring is an adventure that every car enthusiast must experience.
It will be everything you hoped it would be and more. Intimidation, exhilaration and downright fear are just some of the emotions you'll go through when driving the Ring, but when you complete all 12.9 miles the feeling that you'll experience will be like no other track can provide. There's nowhere else in the world where you can find so many different corner shapes and speeds and such extreme elevation changes on one single track. That's why it must be experienced in real life. Forget video games, because they don't even come close to capturing the true drama of lapping the Ring. Best of all, you don't even have to bring a car. Renting a ride is very easy. There are all kinds of cars from slower FWD compacts-like the VW Golf-all the way up to the track-prepped Porsche GT2s for rent from local shops that cater to wannabe Ringmeisters. Which car you rent just depends how deep your pockets are and how fast you want to go.
After years of dreaming and a flurry of last-minute planning, we had two of the best Japanese sports sedans ever made to race around the Nürburgring: a heavily modified '04 Subaru Impreza STI and a '08 Mitsubishi Evolution X. We also had a '09 Nissan 370Z that we kept off the Ring but flogged around the many wonderful roads that Europe has to offer. And that's really the beautiful part of a trip like this-not only do you have the Nürburgring at your fingertips but there are many other amazing roads and tracks just hours away. It truly is the ultimate driving experience if you know where to point your navi.
I have to mention that the cover story you'll read in the following pages really wouldn't have happened without the help of some key people. Stephen Clark from IA Performance conceived of the trip and connected us with his customer, Jonathan Herman, the man who owns the STI we test drove in Germany. Jon not only let us crash at his place for an entire week, he also served as a spectacular tour guide, showing us roads and tracks that we would have never found on our own. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Maurice Durand at Mitsubishi and John Schilling at Nissan, both of whom pulled off the impossible by securing press cars for us with very little lead time. Without the generosity and support of these people, my ultimate driving experience may have never happened, and now that I've experienced the Ring I can't imagine my life without it. The Ring really is a sacred place that nourishes the soul of speed freaks and car fanatics. You owe it to yourself to go on a Nürburgring pilgrimage of your own some day.
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