While most people’s idea of a holiday might be going to some place like Ibiza or Barcelona, the first place which comes to mind to a petrolhead is Germany.
Why? You might ask. Germany is famous with petrolheads, firstly for their automotive industry, some of the best and most sought after brands originate from Germany, it’s enough to mention just BMW, Mercedes and Porsche among others. Secondly it’s famous for its motorsport pedigree; it’s enough to mention Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel to see to what I am getting at. It’s not just Formula 1 drivers either, it’s also enough to see a couple of DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, German Touring car Masters) series races to see that they take their racing quite seriously. Thirdly, the museums, each car manufacturer has their museum, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, they are all proud of their history which you can get to know at their museums. Apart from the car manufacturers museums, there are other museums which are to particular interest to petrolheads, such as the Technik Museum Sinsheim, which features multiple cars from all eras apart from some other interesting stuff such as a Concorde! Finally there are their Motorsport venues which are all filled with a lot of history, and also what is probably the most popular venue of them all, the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
So if you are thinking about a holiday in Germany, read this guide of our first hand experience of all the places of interests and activities that can be done.
For accommodation we looked for something which would be near the Nordschleife at a reasonable price. We ended up staying in the village of Burgbrohl, which is a quiet and lovely little village surrounded with greenery. It’s also only around 20 minutes away from the Nordschleife, which was a big plus. The place is also quite near to the border of both Belgium and the Netherlands. If one would like to visit the Netherlands while there, Eindhoven is about one and a half hours away, while to get all the way to Amsterdam it will take you three and a half hours, it will also take one only around one and a half hours to get to the famous track of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, so find a weekend when there will be some racing, and you will not be disappointed!
While it was impossible to visit all the automotive museums present in Germany, we made our utmost effort to visit as much as we could. In the end we visited the Technik Museum Sinsheim, the Porsche museum, the Mercedes-Benz museum and the Nürburgring museum. We started with the Technik Museum Sinsheim, which is located, as you might have guessed, in Sinsheim. The reason to start with this would be that this museum is on the way to Stuttgart, where the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums are located.
Technik Museum Sinsheim
The Technik Museum Sinsheim is huge! With war machinery, Formula 1 cars, bikes, air planes such as the famous Concorde on display, and even an IMAX theatre. You are spoiled with things to see.
After a whole morning at the Technik Museum Sinsheim, we headed on our way to Stuttgart, with our first stop being the Porsche museum. Here one will see the history of Porsche, starting from the beginning with cars such as the Porsche 356, up until the present day with the latest Porsche hyper car, the 918. It’s also very interesting to see their racing machinery, such as the 917 and the 911 GT1 among others.
The Mercedes-Benz museum was astonishing, with 9 storeys full of displays, in the form of a timeline, starting from the top and slowly continuing downwards. It has all the history starting from 1886, all the milestones and achievements. There is even their service vehicles on display, and even some of the test vehicles, such as the Mercedes-Benz C111 experimental vehicle, on which Mercedes-Benz tested many things, even Wankel engines.
The Nürburgring museum has lots of DTM touring cars on display, as well as some Formula 1 cars, and also displays regarding the history of the Nürburgring. There is also a 4D cinema which is very good, showcasing what it takes to be part of the Nürburgring 24 hours.
We were lucky enough that when we were on holiday there was a race event at Spa-Franchorchamps. So on Sunday we hit the road for the one and a half hour drive to Spa-Francorchamps. The particular event was the Young Timer trophy, although it’s not a famous series, there was a great selection of cars, from E30 M3s, to classic Porsches and even a Ford GT40! It is also a sight to behold seeing just how steep Eau Rouge really is. It’s a must visit to any racing fan as this was an epic experience and I must return to see some other series at this track as well now because I’m sure the atmosphere would be amazing.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife
We have finally arrived to what is the best part of this article, driving on the green hell! In order to drive the green hell, we rented a couple of Renault Clio Cup cars from the guys at RSR Nurburg, who I can personally recommend. They are the same guys behind the ring banana project, which you can see here. They offer a large range of different vehicles, from Renault Twingos up to McLarens, pretty much depends on how deep your pockets are. All you have to do is contact the guys and they will help with anything you might need. I would also recommend if it would be your first time on the ring, to get an instruction lap.
The Nürburgring can be quite an intimidating track, seeing some YouTube videos of crashes, the sheer length of the circuit and knowing that the room for error is quite small with the armco barriers so close to you. If you make a mistake on this narrow track, the tension can be quite high, especially being the first time on the Nürburgring. This was only made worse with mixed driving conditions, it rained almost during the whole morning, and while we begged for the sun to come out to dry the track until the time arrived to drive on the ring, it was not to be.
The time arrived, we sat through the safety briefing and soon after we were on our way to the ring. The entry to the ring was an awesome sight, with many types of different cars there, Porsches, hot hatches, Corvettes, and even a minibus! As soon as we were off for our first lap with our instructor the tension started to fade and adrenaline taking its place. No video or video game can prepare you for the real perils of the Nürburgring, all those corners and all those cambered uphill sections, it’s astonishing to just look at them let alone drive. The first lap with the instructor was over and it was now time for our last two laps. On the second lap there was quite a lot of traffic, with the weather getting a bit worse and some people driving a bit slowly. Fortunately enough for the last lap, there was almost no traffic at all which is quite a rare sight, and the rain also eased off a bit making it a bit easier to push. But you cannot underestimate the Nürburgring, as it will bite back as I almost found out but thankfully all became under control.
In the end, what we thought would be great, was absolutely brilliant, and the rain just added to the experience. A must visit for any petrolhead and as you can see it’s not as hard as you might think to drive the Nürburgring. I know that I will be definitely be going again!
Here are a few clips of the laps, it’s not much and the quality is not the best, but it’s still good. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed reading this guide! Below is also a photo gallery of the trip for your enjoyment!