Drive Cult at the N24

BMW M3 GT2 during VLN practice (photo: Martin Spain)

The Drive Cult team has descended upon the Nürburgring for the 2011 24-hour race. Here's our impressions from day one of the event.

Drive Cult has set up shop at the Hotel an der Nordschleife and is now broadcasting live during N24 week at the Nürburgring. We left the UK early yesterday morning in a convoy that consisted of Jack’s C63 AMG, Marty’s M3 and a 911 GT3 borrowed from a very generous friend. It’s safe to say we fit right in with German crowd car-wise...

There wasn’t much on-track action yesterday, but this gave us an opportunity to take in the atmosphere at the N24. It’s amazing how fanatical German fans are about this event. Across from our hotel at Adenau is a hill with what appears to be thousands of Germans camped out in tents, camper vans and even marquees! At any given moment there are at least ten different songs blaring from their makeshift village, smoke from grills rises constantly and every once in a while fireworks explode overhead. They love their racing here, that much is clear.

After the obligatory steak at the Plistenklause, we decided to head down to the track near our hotel to have a closer look, which then turned into a impromptu midnight stroll out onto the track as it climbs up the hill out of Adenau. As we were marveling at how steep this section was and geeking out about the camber of the turns, we had to make way for a group of inebriated Germans racing one another on mopeds!

This morning, Evo/Aston Martin photographer David Shepherd invited us to check out some some of the more little-known photography spots around the ‘Ring, most of which are extremely difficult to get to. Difficult, that is, unless you have a Land Rover Defender! Luckily, David does have one of these, which he used to shuttle us around the muddy logging roads that circle the interior of the Nordschleife. The view from directly behind the Armco at the Karussel and Flugplatz during the historic car practice session was very special, despite the pouring rain.

After the rain stopped, we headed toward the paddock area at the Grand Prix circuit. It’s an astounding setup in the paddocks. Even after seeing it, it’s incredible how the teams manage to operate successfully with four cars and their respective mechanics all occupying a single garage. Even during practice the chaos was immense. I can only imagine what it will be like during the race!

After strolling around for an hour or so, we left the paddock to watch the VLN cars as they took to the track for the first practice session. Out on the Grand Prix circuit, before the track turns onto the Nordschleife, the Audi R8s looked to have the straight line advantage, though we later found out that this advantage disappeared once they got on the Nordschleife.

The entire Drive Cult team agreed that the hands-down winner of the ‘Best Noise’ competition has to be the Mercedes SLS AMGs, with 6.3 liters of barely-silenced AMG V8 bellowing around the Eifel mountains.

There will be tons to see all week and we’re shooting loads of video and pictures so check back later for more updates. Right now, though, it’s time for the  200-strong Carrera World Cup practice session. We’ll be back later...