Nürburgring (18-20 September 2004)
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SaturdayMy pal Adri came along for the trip, which is intended to be the last Ring trip in the 964 this year. The drive to the Ring was uneventful except for taking an alternative route to go around a 10km traffic jam in the Netherlands, only to end up in the usual mess near Köln. The sun was shining, the airco working, and the oil cooling systems of the 964 got a good workout and proved to be up to the task of keeping the oil temperature within normal limits. "Normal limits" being equivalent to "the temperature reached when Ringing hard on a hot day"...
Thanks to the miracles of mobile communication (SMS works even on the B-258) we coordinated a meeting at Ring Racing to see if "we" could swap my brake pads. As this had been discussed on the ringers list beforehand, I expected lots of interest and smart remarks, but little in the way of actual assistance. When we got to Ring Racing there was a veritable crowd of Ringers, including Jeppe, Soren and Dave.
It didn't take too long to find out that
The brake wear indicators were a pain in the behind. I can see a quick fix coming up in that area by cutting the wires close to where they plug into the car's electrical system. Shorting the two wires should prevent the brake pad warning light in the dash to come on.
Having changed the pads we dropped our luggage at the B&B and moved on to the Ring. And got stuck in traffic trying to get on: there was a queue that started roughly at the Restaurant Heisser Stein.
At least it was all downhill, so I switched off the engine, pumped the brake pedal a few times to get rid of the brake assist, and let it roll down the hill a few meters at a time. When we got near the roundabout, Tijs rolled up in a rented Smoadster sporting evidence of a bird hit near the driver's side mirror. Lots of blood and other gory stuff. They had about 90 minutes to get the car back to the rental station in the Netherlands. Quite a challenge given the beautiful weather and the resulting traffic conditions.
Nearly half an hour after starting to queue we managed to get on the track. I let a 3-wheeler go ahead to take a picture of it. I wonder how well it was suited to the Nordschleife.
Traffic conditions on the Ring proper were the worst I've ever encountered. It was very crowded with quite a bit of aggressive driving and riding going on. Particularly in or just before yellow flag zones people tried to overtake yet another car or squeeze past on your right. No fun at all. Even the few corners where traffic was only a minor concern I didn't get into any kind of rhythm at all. Exiting Galgenkopf I had to brake almost immediately to join the queue to get off the track.
This was the second workout for the cooling systems, which coped with the heat very well. The airco did its thing too: the 964 airco hasn't really impressed me so far, but since last year's repairs it hasn't needed a refill and keeps the interior temperature at decent levels despite the incessant sunshine. Ahead of us in the queue were some cars who were less fortunate in the airco department. They mostly opened their doors. Some even started flapping their doors like angry elephants to get some cool air in.
When we finally made it off the track (without burning up the clutch, fortunately), we wanted to have some lunch. Instead of adding yet another car to the zoo that was the carpark, we decided to park across the street. An idea which was abandond when we got to the roundabout. It was blocked solid, except for a little gap that was just big enough for the 964 to slip through to allow a right turn onto the road parallel to Döttinger Höhe.
On to Brünnchen to get some Currywurst mit Pommes and do some spectating. At the mobile snackbar (does it ever move, by the way?) we ran into Kees and Juliette. After getting us something to eat and drink Jon Meyer introduced himself, resulting in a pleasant chat about cars, cameras and assorted associated subjects. The track was closed, but the fourth boik that came along after the closure didn't slow down enough for Eschbach and went into the grass, fell off and slid along the armco for a few meters. He seemed more annoyed than hurt and continued on his merry way after dusting himself off and picking up his boik.
In contrast to the zoo at the Zufahrt, the Brünnchen area was very quiet. There was the usual gaggle of spectators, but I wouldn't call it very busy.
A 1951 Mercedes attracted a bit of attention. I had a quick chat with the driver who explained that he'd driven it in the course of a wedding. Usable top speed was about 90km/h, but you had to work quite hard at keeping it pointed in the right direction when you did that.
Next item on the agenda was to take advantage of the busy track and the nice weather by taking some pictures.
I wasn't the only one taking pictures.
Some more pictures:
On the way back we spotted some high-class machinery. I will leave it to the reader to correctly identify them in the pictures below.
The parking lot closest to the Zufahrt was still very busy, but the overflow lot across the road had plenty of space. We also managed to find a suitable neighbour.
Here we also met Niek, who acted as helmet-bearer.
Instead of a quiet open track we found a deserted closed track. A severe accident caused the premature closure for the day at around 18.30 hours. The three-wheeler attracted a lot of attention.
Old 911's were the flavour of the day.
At the Pistenklause we were moved upstairs. The usual room was locked, however. A waiter showed us the way to our table in a much quieter area of the restaurant. I could get used to being able to have a conversation without shouting. Before any conversation took off, Ben had to fiddle with his solid state camcorder.
Matt had left his electric blue Scoobynet jacket (the one that is warm, waterproof, comfortable, light, and folds up into a small packet) at home, instead opting to go with a more understated Scoobynet T-shirt. The saying "you can run but you can't hide" was proven once again when he tried to avoid having the T-shirt documented.
It took a little while, but I got the shot eventually.
Slowly our little table started to fill. One of the early arrivals was Kurt, who was drinking coffee!?!
As coffee alone wasn't enough, he went outside for a smoke. Pushing and pulling the sliding door didn't work very well, but sliding it sideways did the trick. As is often the case with sliding doors.
Ben then told Adrian via SMS where we were. By that time Adrian had probably figured that out by himself, as he was standing on the balcony that Kurt had just walked onto. The gadget-show continued with Adrian having some fun with Ben's multi-media multi-modal multi-colour multi-user multi-purpose phone-thingy. The phone-fest theme was quickly picked up by Matt.
Meanwhile, even hiding behind the menu didn't stop the Scoobynet-T-shirt-picture-taking effort.
Kurt had had some fun with his Beetle Convertible (with toothbrush in the little vase on the dash) at the track, and Jochen had taken some pics. The nice thing about digital photography is that you can see the results at the dinner table while you wait for the food. Kurt tried to sabotage the picture by sticking his watch in front of my camera, but just like Matt didn't succeed.
Showing off his laptop in such a camera-happy crowd has some downsides. One of them is that people tend to take pictures of it. Especially if there's something interesting on the screen, such as technical diagrams about two-clutch systems. Not that we would have known that it was anything special if Jochen hadn't told us about it.
Another effect of a camera-happy crowd is that sometimes pictures appear on your compact flash card that you haven't taken yourself. The digital photography equivalent of switching someone's phone to a different language setting, I guess.
Food-wise I decided to try something different than the usual Steak-am-Stein or the standard pizza. I do miss the pizza-with-ham-eggs-and-spinach of the Fuchsröhre, but I think I have found a worthy successor in the Tortellini ala Spinacci. I don't recall the correct name, but it looks like this:
During dinner the Scoobynet T-shirt documentary effort was as strong as ever.
Then it was time to go downstairs to sing Happy Birthday for Anders. Of course we politely invited him to give a little speech, which he duly did.
Back upstairs Kim showed us the keys to his beautiful rental car, a BMW Z4. Except that in reality the rental company had stuck him with a taxi. Maybe they did that because he wore a Microsoft T-shirt when he went to pick the car up?
To continue the fashion theme, Adrian sported a very cool Nordschleife watch. Matt gave me an ambiguous double victory sign when I took another picture of his Scoobynet T-shirt. Apparently the gesture acquires another meaning when you're English.
Some of our little band wanted to act out their deeper desires to be intrepid explorers, but the more sensible people went to bed to prepare for an early start on Sunday.