If you were to ask any motoring enthusiast or motoring expert what the Green Hell was they would simply look at you and say something German in reply. For many people this would be a rather odd response to a rather odd question but it is all very clear. The reply would have simply been the name of a race track in Germany called the Nurburgring, specifically a circuit within it called the Nordschleife, but the Green Hell is anything but simple, and it is not something to be uttered lightly.
Who Cares About An Old Race Track
The Nordschleife is only one part of the Nurburgring complex but it is the most important for many reasons. The track was created in 1925 and is still used today, though not for grand prix racing for reasons that will become clear later. Originally split into the South and North Ring the track was the centre of pre war racing in Germany. After the World War 2 only the North Ring was used in racing and it soon become notorious for pushing both cars and drivers to the absolute limit.
It was used right through the 50s and 60s for F1 races with great Phil Hill being the first man to lap this tarmac beast in less than 8 minutes, even today supercars struggle to hit that kind of lap time. In 1968 after a impressive victory Jackie Stewart named the Nordschleife the Green Hell, the race was full of rain, fog and spray, and considering he was averaging around 90 mph and lapping at over 8 minutes at a time you can certainly imagine why this forested winding track might have given him the idea for that name.
The track has claimed many lives, both famous and not so famous but all remembered by any driver that takes it on. Over the years of racing there have been many protests by drivers about safety and many changes made to the track. But in but in 1976 Niki Lauda suggested all racers boycotted the German Grand Prix, this was ignored and he then suffered a near fatal accident only 2 laps in. Since then the track has been used but not in the same way and for good reason, however, this did not mean the end of the importance of “the ring”.
These days the Nordschleife is used for two main reasons, the first is for paying members of the public to take any car or bike they like and drive it at race speed around the famous circuit. This is a risky game, and although properly organised, can lead to some tragic crashes.
The second reason is for testing new cars, and this is the reason everyone should know about the mighty Green Hell. This track has become the bench mark for testing anything from new Jaguars to hot Abarth Fiats, from Ferraris to McLaren hyper cars. It is even used for testing far more normal cars just to see how they perform, it is a brutal test for any vehicle and one that has become common place for many manufacturers.
It is not just used as a general test though, the time in which a new car can make it round the track has also become somewhat of an obsession for many brands and a constant competition is running between car makers to see who can make a production car go fastest round the circuit.
The track may be old, it may be scary but without it many new cars might not have been pushed to quite the same level of quality and performance without their testing days in the Green Hell, next time you hear those words uttered, nod sagely and think of all who have driven and will drive at the most brutal track in the world.