Drive Cult talks trackday etiquette, great driving roads and the hidden secrets of the Nürburgring with Darren Langeveld of Ringweekends and Destination-Nürburgring.
Drive Cult: Please introduce yourself and give us an idea of what you do.
Darren Langeveld: Defining characteristics? I'm the father of 2 healthy kids, happily married to Maddie and living in Coventry. I spent my formative years DJing, before moving into managing city centre clubs and bars around the country. From there I ‘settled’ into licensing and major event management in the public sector. Currently, I’m a trackday and tour event organiser across Europe, and I undertake licensing and event management consultancy.
DC: You very recently made a life-changing decision to pack in working for The Man, follow your passion, and head out on your own. It’s early days yet, but how is that working out for you. Is it everything you expected?
DL: Yes! It's all change now. Alongside everything above, I also had a misspent youth in underpowered cars (motors were very much a part of my family lineage) and it was this interest in motorsport which eventually led me to Circuit-Days, Le Mans and the Nürburgring. From there, Ringweekends was born and with the realisation of the Destination-Nürburgring.com trackday brand came the need to juggle a few things about life/work wise.
My family are very important to me. Maddie was hugely supportive whilst I buggered off over to the 'Ring 20-odd times a year and worked a day job, so yeah – it was tough, but now it doesn’t have to be so tough. As parents know, working full time seems to mean you're permanently rushing about to the next thing you have to do, but now I get to spread things out a bit and we don’t spend the weekends doing chores. Business-wise it’s great, and I get to cover as many Circuit-Days track days as I want to.
DC: What job title would you give yourself?
DL: Event Organiser. That covers a multitude of sins!
DC: What's the best perk of your job, and what's the worst part of it that makes you wish you’d never started all this?
DL: Best? Definitely being able to visit so many great circuits and share the experience with so many people. The buzz that people get from our events is unreal and I love sharing that. The worst part? It’s a very small negative, but three-quarters of the way through a busy season, trying to maintain your energy to present enthusiasm to the customer is a lot harder than you’d imagine.
DC: What's your biggest pet peeve about track day drivers?
DL: I struggle to empathise with anyone with a race licence and a superiority complex. I mean, really, you’re on a track day, I only want to see your road licence, we’re in a non-competitive environment, overtaking’s on the left only. Your race experience counts for nothing, so stop strutting about in your full race suit and HANS device and chill out! If you can’t respect that, or me, then go and book a test day instead!
DC: You have been known to bravely climb into the passenger seat and give out a bit of instruction on track. What is:
a) The scariest car you have ever passengered in;
b) The scariest thing a driver has ever done with you in the car;
c) The person you would point-blank refuse to get in a car with on track?
DL: To answer:
a) Anything cheap built in a shed. I’m talking specifically about ‘Seven’-type kit cars. If it ain't an actual Caterham I ain't interested! Fifty-odd years of race engineering pedigree really counts when you hit something.
b) Crashed heavily at speed on the exit of Gerard’s at Mallory Park.
c) Having seen her dance, Ann Widdecome. Or Mr Toad. I don’t think he’d respond well to coaching.
DC: Care to share one of the hidden treasures around the Nürburgring that most tourists don't see?
DL: There are so many to choose from! OK - spend some time walking around the circuit. Too many people don’t bother, and they miss out. Take the time to walk the trail from Breidscheid back up past Miss-Hit-Miss and onwards. You’ll see the track from a great new perspective. Or, walk back from Pflantzgarten to Steilstrecke. Take lunch and a camera. And Jack – ask me about Level 7 next time we meet in the Eifel.
DC: Which track in the world, current or historic, would you most like to run a trackday at, and why?
DL: I quite fancy a crack at Imola because it looks fun, Charade because it looks fun and Mas du Clos because it looks beautiful. And fun.
DC: Would you share with us the location of your favorite road? The one you would use your last tank of fuel thrapping your car up and down. It can be in the UK or Europe.
DL: Easy. The Col du Grand St Bernard: Aosta – Montreux. It's such an epic, epic stretch of road in anything with a bit of grunt.
DC: What is the best model of the Peugeot 405 and why? Scrap that, no one cares… What can we expect to see from Ringweekends now that you can give it 100% of your undiluted attention?
DL: Don’t be dissin my mighty Mi16, man! Watch out for more Destination-Nürburgring private track days at the 'Ring, and possibly some at other key circuits in Europe. I’m finally consolidating the social Nürburgring tours and events to cover the bigger weekends such as the 24hrs and more VLN race weekends as well. Most importantly, I’ll be sharing a renewed vigour and enthusiasm with my customers, something that’s always stood Ringweekends above the competition.