Schwedenkreuz proves it isn’t getting any easier

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You’d think that with the proliferation of the internet and the reach of social media, that maybe the accident rate at the Nürburgring would slow down a little. That maybe, because most Nordschleife accidents are more widely viewed than ever before, visitors might be a little more cautious. Or at least, a little bit more aware of the consequences they face.

This BMW 5-series rolling over the fence into the forest at Schwedenkreuz sadly proves otherwise.

ESP, traction, control, and side-impact airbags can only protect the average driver so much. Luckily for the occupants of this brand-new BMW, the aforementioned airbags and safety systems did their job. I was stood at the entrance last week when the evening session closed early. Rich from ringspares and me watched as helicopters, ambulances and first-responders all flooded on to the track.

Luckily, only one of the two helicopters was needed, and that injured person was discharged from hospital shortly after the incident. Minor injuries only, no deaths at all. Here’s the aftermath:

The same good news could not be told of the blue BMW E46 that rolled here just three weeks ago, where one occupant (and BTGer) died. Don’t go googling for video, I’ve been promised that it’s not going online. The events of that day will be covered in more depth at a time that’s more appropriate to the family and friends concerned. Suffice to say I’d describe that event as tragically unlucky, though lessons can and should be learned from it.

Dale, what’s your f**king point?

The age of the internet and social media means you get to see the Nürburgring through a rose-tinted lens of social media. Everybody shares their first sub-8 BTG lap, nobody shares 100 laps of sketchy, badly controlled fighting through hard traffic. People nearly crash every minute of every tourist session, but newbies arrive thinking that anything over 10 minutes BTG is somehow ‘slow’.

Here at BTG I try to keep things “real”. It’s been pointed out to me several times every season that if I didn’t show so much of the bad stuff, I’d get more access to the good stuff.

Nobody’s perfect, sometimes I drive too hard for touristenfahrten and post it online, but most times I don’t. The very name of this website was based on the ‘new’ method timing our laps back when the entrance moved from T13 to the Döttinger Höhe.

So my points are multiple. You could argue that I’m getting old, or that maybe all these deaths are knocking the passion out of me, but I don’t think so…. here goes:

  • Nobody but you is actually timing your laps. Even though the American visitors come into the ringtaxi office and ask us where to find the laptime print outs. Don’t worry about laptimes
  • Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t send F1 talent spotters to Adenauer Forst and Brünnchen at 8am on a Sunday morning,  so no need to take it over the limit just for the cameras.
  • Driving to your own limits, instead of the numbers printed on a sign, is what makes the Nürburgring Nordschleife just so awesome. But recognising those limits, and driving within them is what keeps you lapping for many years without crashing. I genuinely know people who can’t go more than 4 or 5 laps without some sort of ‘incident’, and that have written off multiple cars and still show no signs of slowing down. Don’t be ‘that guy’.
  • A big mistake (or a bit of bad luck) in any car on any piece of tarmac can cost you your life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an FIA International event at Monaco or a busy Sunday touristenfahrten on the ‘ring. Just because the word ‘tourist’ is in there, it doesn’t make it any safer.
  • I’d argue that I feel safer going three-cars abreast into Schwedenkreuz on lap 1 of a VLN race, than I do going for a sight-seeing lap in my T4 transporter at 11am on Sunday. If you don’t have a full FIA safety-equipped car with HANS device, then don’t drive like you do…
  • HELMETS. HELMETS. HELMETS. After many years of driving with and without, you’ll find me wearing mine a whole lot more now. But that’s a blog for another day…

 

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