So I came to Germany to drive. That was all I wanted to do on this trip.
A friend of mine works at a rental car agency (that will remain nameless) and made a reservation for me to drive a manual transmission, BMW 1 series through Germany. This is a nimble little car that would be perfect for 3 things.
- Hauling me and my stuff around Germany
- Driving the Autobahn at proper speeds
- Going on a “toll road” called Nurburgring Nordschleife
Upon my arrival at the car rental location in Berlin. The man behind the desk told me that there was no BMW. There wasn’t even a manual transmission available. The ONLY car they had to rent, for the lack of a better description, was a fat Prius.
Specifically a Toyota Prius V.
For those of you not familiar with the V; it’s the big Prius and it is not nimble. The Aerodynamics look as if they were designed by someone who didn’t pass high school geometry. And it’s ugly, uglier than should be legal.
But, with literally no options, I loaded my stuff into the fat Prius, who I will call Milton. And I was off.
Milton and I headed west, towards a little town in the country called Nurburg.
After hours of driving I became bored and found myself in some very straight, unregulated areas of the autobahn. So I put my foot down. The speedo climbed, passing 106, 107, 108…
Topping out at 192kph, a measly 119mph.
Determined to go faster, I turned off the AC, put the blower on high, filled up the tank with 100 octane and went downhill. 191kph. Milton’s little lawnmower engine just couldn’t get any faster. Satisfied I had pushed him to his limit, I slowed to a mellow 150kph (93mph) and drove on.
About an hour outside of Nurburg, my GPS told me to turn off the Autobahn into the hills. I thought this would be a good time to test out Milton’s flappy paddle gearbox. Yes, that’s right. The pudgy little bastard had paddle shifters. And to my surprise, responded nicely. As darkness fell I whipped around corners, rock and roll blasting, the occasional screech of tires and dare I say ‘snarl’ from a downshift.
Arriving at the Bed and Breakfast at 10pm, an elderly German woman, who spoke no English, showed me to my room. (There are better options for millennials).
I woke early the next day and unpacked my gear I had brought with me to drive this unique ‘toll road’ in Nurburg. Out came my white BMW racing shoes, Italian leather racing gloves and open faced auto racing helmet. If you’re confused as to why I needed all of this… Allow me to explain.
Nurburg has a ‘toll road’ open to the public on certain days of the week. This toll road is called Nurburgring. I would be driving a portion of it called Nordschleife. The elaborate, Nurburgring Nordschleife is one of the most notorious race tracks in the world.
Designed nearly a hundred years ago, it consists of 154 winding turns and nearly 1000 feet in elevation changes over the course of the 12.93 mile track. Anyone can drive this track in a road-legal car. And Milton fit the bill. His little standard tires, bulbous ass and pug-like nose would be tearing around a road shared with professional and amateur racers seated in super cars.
After a short, bleak breakfast consisting of a single hardboiled egg and a some stale bread, I was off to Nordschleife.
This was a dream I’d had for years and decided with my extra week of vacation, this needed to happen. I’d saved money from a cheap flight, after all. And this, May 5th 2016 would be the day.
Milton and I cut through the German countryside, when a sleek building emerged out of the trees.
“Nurburgring” was written on the side. I went in and proceeded to obtain my track card (a card with a certain number of laps credited to it, 119 euros for 4 laps).
I put on my helmet turned on the two GoPros that I brought with me and before I knew it, was entering the track.
A feeling of exhilaration came over me like an awesome wave. I accelerated hard, trying to remember the course best I could from watching YouTube videos and playing video games. The car lumbered through the turns being passed by countless Porsches and BMWs. This was a daily thing for some of these drivers and they were fantastic, hitting the apexes at incredible speed. Milton; the fat Prius, chased after cars with 10 times the horsepower (literally) and to my dismay, with each turn, I was gaining on a V10 Audi R8; a super car. It is a Lamborghini powered, mid-engined beast. Yet… With hundreds upon a hundred of more horsepower, a center of gravity probably a foot lower than my own and some very sticky tires, Milton stayed on his tail!
And then came my opportunity, an opening on the outside, I went for it and the R8 fell behind me! Thrilled, I pushed Milton a little too hard and found myself in a 4 wheel slide going into a triple apex, regaining control, I stayed ahead of the Audi.
The following lap I did it again, passing a brand new Porsche and Lamborghini Gallardo. I flew into every corner tires wailing, somehow keeping the clumsy little car’s composure while not hitting the quarter-million dollar cars all around me.
Milton, kicked ass. Passing cars he had no business be mentioned in the same sentence with, let alone sharing the same racetrack.
This turned out to be a great trip, Nurburgring might even become an annual thing, but next time I’ll be sure to bring a proper car.