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9 Aug 2019




Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis 


Humans have been racing cars since the second car rolled of the factory production line. We love the adrenaline rush, we love the danger; speed and racing is what makes the racing drivers feel alive. Racing has become more popular than ever before with thousands of motoring events taking place annually worldwide; however, there are a selected few events that will make you speechless. “ADAC 24H Rennen Nürburgring” is one of them.
Welcome to Heaven (Part 4).


We all have a happy place, a state of mind or physical place that puts you at peace and this is mine: beautiful landscape with forests as far as eye can see, the sounds of roaring engines, smell of petrol and rubber. I am a simple man; there are only 4 things I care for in my life – my family, my friends, cars and photography and this place combines them all. If I ever would describe a dream job for me this would be it – chasing motorsport events like this and capturing them for memories for myself and others. This is my happy place… 


Welcome to Germany – where the beer is amazing, the women are pretty, the language is bizarre, the castles are spectacular and schnitzels and curry sausages are everything. I have so much love for this country and always look forward to returning here; it really is the best country in the world to be a car enthusiast in. 

Germany has the fastest and craziest “public road” on the planet: the Nurburgring as well as multiple racing circuits, as well as picturesque and fast flowing public b-roads and of course the unrestricted autobahns. Deutschland, Ich liebe dich!

The 2019 Nurburgring 24 Race took place on the first weekend of June, the very beginning of the German summer. Being somewhat similar to that of a World Rally of Wales, Nurburgring 24h has attained a rather infamous reputation for the weather - sun, rain, hailstones and snow are a probability within the 24h period; however, the 2019 Nurburgring 24h was a race unlike any other. The weather reached high 30’s and sunshine throughout the race meant it was the perfect weekend for the fans. 



Somewhere deep in the Eifel Mountains in the North-Western region of Germany there is a public toll road that has become most famous piece of tarmac on the Planet. Once labelled as the “Green Hell” by F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart the 20.8km race circuit is the petrolhead’s heaven.

History of the Green Hell

In the early 1920’s The “ADAC Eifelrennen” races were held on public roads in the Eifel Mountains and were soon deemed dangerous and causing too much disruption to the public, so an alternative route was requested. A construction of a race circuit nearby was soon after arranged; the project was led by architect Gustav Eichler from “Eichler Architekturbüro” architect firm. Located around the Nurburg village and overlooked by the medieval castle the race circuit construction began in the September 1925. The track was completed in 1927 and the first Eifelrennen race took place on 18 June 1927. 

The original track also known as the Gesamtstrecke (whole circuit from German) configuration consisted of various parts - the north loop (Nordschleife), south loop (Sudschleife), and warm up area (zielschleife or betonschleife). The overall circuit was 28.265km long and was used for the last time in 1929.

The south loop was destroyed in favour of a more modern GP Track (GP-Strecke) that was launched in 1983 and joined to the northern loop. The GP Circuit of the Nurburgring can host up to 150,000 spectators and is used for various motorsport events including the Formula 1. 

But it is the 20.8km long Nordschleife that remains the star of the Nurburgring hosting various car tests, races and public driving sessions known as the touristenfahrten up to day and hopefully for decades to come.


The 24 Hours race of Nurburgring is an annual touring car and GT series endurance race held on the Nurburgring’s North Loop. The first Nurburgring 24h race was held in 1970 and there have been 47 races since (including 2019). BMW have claimed the most victories followed by the Porsche. The race can host up to 200 entries and 700 drivers per event which is just mind blowing.

The popularity and entries of the Nurburgring 24h race dropped during the financial crash period with a lot of manufacturers pulling out from motor racing altogether; however, lately the event has picked up again and become more popular than ever seeing record high spectator attendances. There were more than 200 000 spectators attending the 2019 Nurburgring race (speculations of over 250 thousand).


As with any motorsport event a major part of the success of it relies on its budget. It takes a ridiculous amount of hard work, money and volunteers to host and run this event of this scale safely, enjoyably and flawlessly, so first of all let’s all appreciate what event do we get for 50 euros. So hats down to everybody involved, and petrolheads - do visit this event to show your support for years to come, even in tougher times. Let’s hope it runs for another 50 years.


If you ever wonder why there are fewer manufacturers and private entries in these events consider the costs of entering an event of this scale. For one a team needs a competitive car, entry fee probably well in excess of 7000 euros, pretty much a container load of spare parts, team of drivers and mechanics and not to mention all the logistics. It is not a small race in the GP circuit either, the cars will and do break. 


What does it take to be a successful and trophy winning Nurburgring 24h race driver; I came to a simple answer: one just needs to be insane. It takes a special breed of people to want to do this. One thing is to be a racing driver on an open, wide and purpose built racing circuit, but to race on a tight, bumpy and slippery (pretty much) public road with 150 other cars for 24h on various weather conditions is just insane.

All drivers competing in the 24h race obviously have to have an international racing licence, but due to the high average speeds and complexity of the circuit all drivers additionally are required to pass a Nurburgring racing licence. The top qualifiers carry a blue flashing LED number on their cars making it easier for the backmarkers to spot them and let them pass safely on the circuit. Having driven the ring a few times I can assure you, it certainly takes a different sort of person to have the balls to enter this event.


No drivers and teams would be able to finish the event without the help of their team mechanics. Sometimes people do tend to forget that the success of the car also largely relies on the work of the mechanics. Nurburgring 24h just like any other endurance race puts a huge stress on the mechanic shoulders. The car has to perform flawlessly in the hands of all drivers, be set up perfectly for the track and survive the abuse of the harsh circuit for whole 24 solid without a break.

Watching them work and perform repairs and pit stops is like watching a well-choreographed musical orchestra. Each mechanic knows their tasks and place in the pits and engages without any instructions. It is a magical experience to be able to be so close to the pit lane in an active race. F1 should learn from this.



Whilst there are many 24h endurance races out there and Nurburgring even isn’t the oldest or most prestigious of them, it is the best if you ask me though. The atmosphere that surrounds this event is like no other. I have been to quite a few events in my life, but nothing prepared me for this.

From the moment you arrive at the Nurburgring 24h event you feel welcomed. The open-to-fans and relaxed atmosphere in the pit area as well as the huge race circuit environment makes everybody feel “part of the race”. 

Quarter of million fans attend the event and the atmosphere is nothing short of spectacular – firework displays, open fires with barbeques, crazy campsites, enthusiastic fans on the trackside, whilst the pit area is kept buzzing by DJs, food stalls, shops, VIP lounges and entertainment areas from various auto manufacturers and teams. The best way to describe the Nurburgring 24h is that it is NOT a motorsport race – it is a Motorsport Festival with a race as the main headliner.



If you’re planning on attending the Nurburgring 24h don’t even dare thinking of a Hotel stay – campsite is a must, this is part of the experience. Majority of the racing fans would arrive a week before the event to set up their base. By that I don’t mean a 2 man tent with a fireplace nearby, I really mean an HQ with working toilets, showers, Jacuzzi, fridges, fully-functioning kitchens, 4k TV in a middle of a forest with WIFI capabilities etc.

When the night comes the parties begin. There are music gigs with live bands in the tents, DJs in the forests and the smell of BBQ and smoke fills the forests. The camp sites become villages in the middle of nowhere – little Las Vegas of Nurburgring.


And now to the most important bit – the fans; they are the best ones I’ve seen. I love the crazy WRC fans, met the posher F1 fans and the well behaved BTCC fans, but Nurburgring 24h fans just like the drivers are on a different level to the rest.

The dedication to the event is eccentric with their camp sites and outfits. And above all – they are the friendliest. Everywhere I stopped I got offered alcoholic beverages that I couldn’t decline, food and even electricity to keep the camera batteries topped up, or even crazier gain access to their insane set ups to get some higher angled photos.


Undeniably it was also nice to see that Nurburgring 24h hasn’t been overrun by the modern generation “butthurts”, where everything is offensive and bad; what I am saying is yes, the pit girls still exist here. Unlike F1 where the use of girls is seen as a sexist and unfair meat trade, in Nurburgring 24h Pit girls are still very much present, proud and looking colourful and good beside the teams. Well done! 

And who doesn’t like to get a photo at an event with a racing driver surrounded by glamorous girls?


Now one thing we do need to talk about – the food! Deutschland loves their curry sausage and schnitzel. If you’re attending the race and expect to be served something else you’re crazy. It has the status of a saint in Nurburgring, the more curry powder is poured on the better. Lang lebe die wurst! 

One thing I did want to ask my German fellow fans though: what is going on with the mayonnaise? People seemed that they couldn’t get enough off. Am I missing something here?


One of the most memorable things from the event for me was my first live experience of the pit wall. Anybody was allowed to freely walk around the pit lane and pit boxes right up to the event. People were able to chat with the teams, mechanics and drivers as well as get photos and in some instances, even get into the race cars.

Whilst many of us are aware of what happens in a pit garage, not a lot of us have had a chance to see what happens further inside the pits – like dozens of people for 24h monitoring the stats of the car – like tire pressures, engine temperatures, lap times, weather and hundreds of other data that get fed back to the driver. Nerdy you say, I say – amazing!


Unfortunately we arrived at the ring late on a Friday afternoon when the race of the “old timers” was well underway, but the closer we got to the ring the more distinctively we knew we were at the right place. We heard the air cooled and we heard the straight sixes, we heard history. There is no replacement for classic cars, and seeing them race on this piece of tarmac is unforgettable experience.


The Audi R8 Cup race was probably the only let down of the whole weekend since the majority of the race (held only on the GP circuit) was done behind a safety car.

But you know what, the glorious V10 sounds amazing at any speed and seeing so many of these beautiful cars together was still a treat nonetheless. 


Nurburgring 24h race was also a host to the Round 5 of the World Touring Car Cup offering a unique experience in their racing calendar. With just 3 laps on the race there was no room for tire saving or sensible driving, it was go go go from the moment the green light came on the start lights.

There were crashes, cuts, even more ridiculous cuts and bumper to bumper racing throughout the 3 races. The WTCR cars averaged 167km/h throughout the 25km circuit. This is what I love about the touring car racing – there is no tire preservation, fuel saving or politics – just aggressive foot and tunnel vision on every lap of the race for every driver. 


To celebrate the recent EV (electric vehicle) category lap record on the Nurburgring VW brought back the VW I.D.R. for a parade lap. VW snatched the title from Nio EP9 beating it by further 40 seconds. It may sound not like much, but oh boy it was quick.


Well finally the clock was approaching the midday and that meant one thing – the 24h race was ready to go. Just like a hornet’s nest that has been pocked for long enough with annoying stick, the pit lane was suddenly no longer calm and peaceful. Everybody was rushing doing their last checks before getting the cars out for the race.

Some fans had been waiting a week for this moment, some fans had travelled the world for this and we all knew this is going to be one amazing race. In the words of a Northern Irish man it was - Nurburgring 24h let’s be having ye’!


The race format was simple – the 150 cars were split into 3 groups and the fastest qualifiers were out first. And the ridiculously small margin of less than ½ second over the 25km splitting the first and second car in the qualifying indicated it will be a fight from the beginning till the end.


As per tradition the event started with an elegant opening lap where fans and marshalls alike waved and cheered to the 150 entrants marking their respect and joy.


Team Black Falcon AMG GT3 race car was the first to appear on the "s-bends" as soon as the first batch of 50 cars left the GP Circuit and it was already pulling a few car lenghts on the rest of the pack.


We've all driven the track on computer games and we know how hard the track already is when you're on it by yourself, now imagine another 150 cars on it racing inches apart. The racing is intense and danger is never far away from you. I was shocked to see that cars were clipping kerbs, touching grass and bumpers in front from lap 1, this was pure form of racing for all 24h.


When it came to deciding where to watch the race, the spectators were spoilt for choice here. Here are few of my favourite locations. 


Grand Stand offered a great view of the star line and an overhead crossing allowed spectators easily to cross into the paddock and pit area throughout the race allowing you to see close and personal the driver changes and pit stops.


First corner in any race track is impressive but when they appoach it following a huge straight it makes it even more dangerus. The sharp right hander follows into an immediate left as provided plenty of drama, spins and action.


Probably my favourite part of the track are the s-bends that are fast flowing and gives you first real taste for the ring.


This locations needs no introductions as it is the most spectator packed and action filled area of the circuit, as we all know from the notorious "Youtube" clips, claiming so many of the incidents on the Nordschleife.


Probably the most iconic place within the whole circuit is the first karussell. It is not the easiest location to get to, so be prepared for a lengthy walk from the Brunchen, but my word it is worth the walk. You can hear the scraping of the diffusers from kilometres away and nothing prepares you for the steepness of this area.


The never ending straight following the second karussell is an amazing place to witness these GT3 cars stretch their legs with drafting effects clearly visible so many passes are done here.


A few hours into the race the track transforms, the sun starts to set, the lights were turned on and it seemed the cars found an extra gear as everything seemed to become even more insane and intense.


Nurburgring at dawn is spectacular, the sun was up for a long time giving some amazing and picturesque backdrops for the photos. I am sure it also gave some challenges to the drivers as glare into the window at 100mph+ is not what you would descrive as beautiful.


Once the sun went beyond the horizon, the track transformed yet again. Suddenly the beautiful forest became dark and scary, we were barely able to see our feet; however, the constant screams of engines, the smell of bbq and screaming fans kept us right on track.

It is beyond any words I'll find to describe what Nurburgring feels like at night. It is magical, it is scary, it is unlike anything I've ever seen. I'll say it again and again - these drivers are not human!


As you can imagine the track claimed its victims, quite a lot actually. But what surprised me the most, the racing never stopped - not for once. The marshalls and rescue teams bravely step on the path of raging cars and calmly deal with the mess left behind.

What mattered most was there were no fatalities during the race, and majority of the teams were able to finish the race with cars still performing as well as they did when they started the race 24h before.


It felt like 24 minutes, but the 24h were gone; in a blink of an eye! It didn't feel like 24h for me, but for the teams it may have felt like a week worth. I didn't want it to stop, and I won't lie, I felt sad. Sad that I would need to leave this magical place that gave some of the best memories of  my life.

As for the results, I am sure for those who followed the race already know them, but those who missed it: it was the hard work, great pit stop in the end and phenomenal drive of the team Phoenix Audi that snatched the win from Mantley Porsche. Black Falcom AMG followed closely in third.

Top 10 Overall

#4 Phoenix Audi
#911 Manthey Porsche
#3 Black Falcon AMG
#14 Car Collection Audi
#12 Manthey Porsche
#18 GetSpeed AMG
#33 Falken BMW
#705 SCG 003C
#5 Phoenix Audi
#45 Kondo Nissan


Just like other motorsport races the Nurburgring 24h endurance is a timed race with winners for each class, meaning everybody wants to come home with a trophy. The Nurburgring 24h is amongst some of the most challenging races on the Planet. It may look like fun, especially to us spectators but I can assure you for the drivers and team mechanics it is not; it actually looks like hell. 24h sleepless hours (well actually maybe a lot more), extremely hard work, stress and concentration takes a toll on anybody. One look in the pit lane and a picture tells the thousand words. Drivers, mechanics and pit crew support team have given their all.


I could go on and on about what this event was like and how impressive it was, and how I genuinely was heartbroken when I had to leave the place, but there is nothing that will substitute for being there. Just go... Book it for next year and go. It is a heaven on earth for any motoring enthusiast and I cannot wait to return here.


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