Deadly crash prompts institution of Nurburgring speed limits

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There are now Nurburgring speed limits. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

There are now Nurburgring speed limits. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Forget about going to Germany to drive crazy fast, as there are now Nurburgring speed limits. The famous (and famously deadly) track has put speed limits in place in the wake of a deadly crash, meaning no new lap records are going to be set for the time being.

That’s right – Nurburgring speed limits

Few would believe Nurburgring speed limits would ever be a thing. For those who revel in the idea of a safehaven for sheer speed, it’s nigh on tragic. There are increasingly fewer places one can legally drive like a bat out of hell, and the Nurburgring – being open to public use – was like Mecca for speed freaks.

However, safety eventually trumps all. According to Automobile magazine, the ‘Ring is now imposing limits on the faster sections of the track. Some sections of the track, such as Flugplatz, Antoniusbuche, Schwedenkreuz and Tiergarten, are limited to 124 miles per hour. The main straight is limited to 155 mph, coincidentally the speed limit on the Autobahn.

Yes, Virginia, you read that right; the Autobahn has a speed limit. Ever wonder why so many cars are limited to 155?

Safety first

Like all safety in racing, the impetus behind the Nurburgring speed limits is a terrible accident, namely a GT3 class race, where a car careened off the track and killed a spectator. The event, according to Car and Driver, was a VLN (Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nurburgring, a Nurburgring endurance race series) GT3 race, which factory teams participated in.

The car in question was Nissan’s factory team, fielding (obviously) a GT-R. Driver Jann Mardenborough lost control at one of the track’s high-speed crests and a spectator lost his life.

Oddly enough, the limits in question are enforced during many race events but aren’t during (obviously) Nurburgring lap record attempts and track days. (Professional drivers are given limits but the great unwashed public isn’t? Das verruckt ist!)

Gentlemen, start your whingeing

The biggest parties moaning about the Nurburgring speed limits are fanboys with a massive hard-on for Nurburgring lap times. Manufacturers take their cars to the track and drive them really fast; whomever snags a record gets bragging rights and people who can’t actually afford the cars they are so enthusiastic about make comments on the internet.

The current overall record holder is Porsche, with the Porsche 918 Spyder. Koenigsegg was hoping to set a new one with the One:1, but tough cookies. Like Le Mans, it’s partially about achievement but also about marketing opportunities.

It’s an iconic track. It’s longer by far than almost any other racetrack at more than 12 miles, and the long straights can get the hyperest of hyper cars closer to potential top speeds than basically anywhere else. The closest track to it in terms of length, technical challenges and sheer potential for going fast is the Circuit De La Sarthe, and that’s only a track for a few weekends a year. It’s also where Juan Manuel Fangio famously broke the lap record 9 times in a row in the 1957 German Gran Prix, widely considered the single greatest driving performance ever achieved.

However, it’s also deadly. Several people die annually during track days and scores of drivers have lost their lives in races there. Sir Jackie Stewart famously called it “Green Hell” and it’s where Niki Lauda was nearly crisped after his Ferrari caught on fire after crashing.

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