Stories > I was the King of the Nurburgring - for three minutes. Then, I almost totaled my car.
I was the King of the Nurburgring - for three minutes. Then, I almost totaled my car.

I was the King of the Nurburgring - for three minutes. Then, I almost totaled my car.

Published 2020-01-03 by Peter Ternström

Want to know how NOT to behave the first time you visit the Nurburgring? Look no further. Let my confession be your guiding star in the skies of humiliation and over-confidence. My first contact with the most challenging track in the world - the Nurburgring. Pretty much everything went wrong. I should be happy to be alive.

We start by rewinding the tape all the way to 2004.

I confess. Nurburgring scares me to death. I don’t have a problem with other racing tracks, but the Nurburgring makes me really scared. And happy. At the same time. It’s hard to explain this to someone who hasn’t been there. The euphoria in your body after a great lap on the ring can’t be described in words. You have to try it to understand.

I got my first lap from my friend Jonas Carlsson, who already was a good driver on the Nurburgring. I was his beifahrer - passenger - during a driving course on the track.

I was hooked immediately. My life started revolving around finding the correct racing line through the corners of the track. Corners and sections that sounded like German profanities - Schwedenkreuz, Fuchsröhre and Pflanzgarten! Thank god for the Internet. I found vast amounts about the subject here.

Just one year later, I went back to the Nurburgring. Now with my own car - a newly purchased turbocharged rice-boiler-device. A grey Mitsubishi EVO IX with a gigantic wing in the back. I had prepared it with a remap and a titanium exhaust. The engine now had 400 BHP. I had also purchased really expensive coilovers (Swedish brand) with some insane camber settings. I had the fastest car in the world.

To prepare myself, I did a thousand laps on the Nurburgring from the sofa in my living room - on a Playstation. Finally, and most importantly, I had bought the same helmet as the Stig.

I was the king of the Nurburgring - before even driving a single lap in reality.

My amazing skills were confirmed to me, already on the first lap. First, I was passed by a Golf from the late 80’s. Then I drove off the track. This when I tried to keep up with the unbelievable pace of the little Golf. Yes, I drove off the track, straight out in the sharp left turn of Adenauer Forst. Something was very wrong. This was not how it was supposed to go.

Back at the touristenfahrt entry I spot the Golf and start a conversation with the owner. A local talent that barely spoke english. “What have you done with the engine”, I asked. “Ze Engine ist originaal" was his reply, with that wonderful German accent we heard so many times in the movies where the Germans are the bad guys. Like Indiana Jones! Remember that scene, when Indy gets slapped in the face, and the German bad guy says “This is the way we say goodbye in Germany!”

A shitty Golf with 118 tired little ponies had just passed my 400 bhp monster like it was standing still. Something was apparently wrong with my car. I needed more camber in the front, and the wastegate was probably broken. With a proper working car I would show the owner of the Golf how things were done.

I took my car from the track entry to a workshop not far away. A technician took a brief look at my car. There was nothing wrong with the waste gate or the hoses. The camber in the front was already set to the max. While the technician couldn’t find anything wrong with the car, he called upon the owner of the work shop. A well known Nurburgring personality.

He offers me to drive a lap to get a feel of the car. Perhaps give me some advice. Whatever that was worth, considering I’ve been driving lap times under six minutes in my living room at home. Even considerably intoxicated after a night out, I was doing sub 7 lap times. I was, after all, the king. Ten minutes later we were entering the track. He was driving my Japanese plastic rocketship, and I was in the passenger seat.

What happened next can only be described as an epiphany of biblical proportions. A burning bush or Thor’s hammer on your head. It was like Jesus himself was behind the wheel. The turns I took on third gear, Jesus drove flat out on fourth. The laws of physics ceased to exist when Jesus drove my car. A miracle in the Eifel mountains. A glitch in the matrix. Fuchsröhre went so fast that my head was pressed down in the stomach. To my great amusement we also passed that Golf from 1987 at Ex-Mühle. I looked away so the German guy wouldn’t see that I was the passenger. It felt pretty good again. Indiana Jones.

Back at the garage the celebrity garage owner came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with my car.

“It’s something else that is wrong”, he said and looked at me.

We have to take break here. I get panic attacks when I have to relive this harsh clash with reality. With the Stig’s helmet in my hand, I suddenly realised that I was… a bad driver. All my confidence was gone. I had to start over.

He continued: “What you need to be fast on the ring is not 1000 horsepower or twelve degrees of camber. What you need is laps. Lap after lap after lap. Preferably thousands of laps, like I have. Playstation doesn’t work, the track is not the same as in reality. Playstation is dangerous. Many fall for this hoax, thinking they are kings and drive off the track.”

In that moment my testosterone kicks in on full blast. I was furious. A thousand hours in my living room were wasted. All these nights I should have spent with my girlfriend instead. Playstation should be banned.

Your event organiser was severely humiliated on the Nurburgring. Wouldn’t you know. This is something to contemplate while you hear me speak during the drivers briefing at Gran Turismo Nurburgring in a couple of weeks. Kind of hard to take the organiser seriously when you know that he bought the Stigs helmet, tuned his Mitsubishi EVO IX and thought he was the king of the world’s most challenging race track - without a single lap in reality.

See you at the Nurburgring in May and October in 2020. Looking forward to it! But listen - I don’t want to hear a word about this mishap from 2006 when we meet. It is almost fifteen years ago now. Lets just leave it as is. Thank you.

Peter Ternström

Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
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