A year ago, I didn’t even have a passport. It was always one of those things where as much as I travel around the US, and had hoped to do some traveling overseas, it never really felt like it was something I was ever going to do. Then last summer I told myself to get off my ass, make myself an appointment at the Vermont Passport Agency, and stop using not having a passport as an excuse to not do some of the trips I’ve been wanting to do.
Since then I’ve taken a couple trips to Canada, the Caribbean, and now an epic bucket list trip to Belgium and Germany. You guys know I’m into food and drink, but those who know me well also know that I’m a bit of a car guy too. I grew up in my family’s auto parts store, dove head first into the Japanese car enthusiast culture during my “Fast & Furious” phase, and as my tastes have matured I’ve grown quite fond of the VW/Audi/Porsche group of vehicles and have owned a few of them as well.
When I was younger, I can remember sliding my Gran Turismo disc into my Playstation, getting out my Logitech steering wheel, taking my Audi RS6 Avant out of my “garage” and spending countless hours doing laps around and memorizing every turn of the Nürburgring. It was frivolous, but nevertheless something I enjoyed enough to daydream about one day being able to take drive around this world famous race track. Little did I know that, over a decade later, I’d actually get the chance to drive it in real life.
This visit to Nürburg was a small stop on a much larger trip consisting of many things I never imagined I’d be able to do in my life (more on the beer stuff later). Arriving to the complex is almost surreal. As you’re driving onto the grounds you see thousands of onlookers pressed up against the barriers of the track watching hundreds of cars scream by. The cars range from daily drivers with some light mods, to track dedicated racers, to half a million dollar Lamborghini’s, both on the track and lining the roads along with the spectators. As we entered into the Information Center and saw the various auto manufacturers’ shops, we thought we were being naive in believing that just anyone could take any car onto the track.
After a brief chat with the front desk, we had our Ring Cards in hand and everything felt a bit more real. Getting onto the track was a little bit of a challenge. It isn’t exactly obvious and none of the signs are in English. We expected some grand entrance, but in reality it’s just a gate next to a cafe on Döttinger Höhe Straight. Cars line up beside the cafe, stretch past the roundabout and can extend even further than that, depending on how many people are there and if a track cleanup is necessary.
There were three lanes at the entrance gate, two on the outside for cars, and the center gate dedicated to motorcycles, which you share the track with during public driving sessions. An uneventful, quick wave of your ring card at the sensor causes the gate to lift and you’re off.
Some of the other tracks I’ve been on feel like you’re done in a flash. This is not the case with the ‘Ring. This is a long track, just under 14 miles of pure adrenaline. It’s exhausting being on edge for that long of a period of time, and as if wrangling the steering wheel through the 73 turns isn’t enough, there’s also navigating your way through the traffic and trying to make sure you’re being courteous to other racers in faster cars trying to pass on your left. (The driver of a bright green Aventador who came up faster than I noticed was not particularly happy with me on my lap.)
It was exhilarating. One of the most intense, incredible things I’ve ever done, even if I did accomplish it in a measly rental A3. If you’re like me, enjoy cars and have a love of racing, I can’t recommend doing at least a lap on Nordschleife. It’s an experience I’ll take with me and remember for the rest of my life.
The following day we headed down to Stuttgart to check out the Porsche Museum. This was another bucket list item for me, but I’m not going to wax so poetic about it. Instead, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. There were some amazing cars here that I don’t think you’d ever seen in real life unless you made the visit to the museum. Go. Just go. (But you can probably skip the “The Transaxle Era” exhibit.) Make sure to open this gallery up in fullscreen and enjoy the show.