Take an off-season tour of “Germany Monaco”

While city circuits don’t always allow for particularly exciting races, they have a big advantage over conventional tracks – anyone can ride whenever they want. The first place that comes to mind for such shenanigans is probably Monaco – the most famous of them all.

Today, we are definitely not in Monte-Carlo. I don’t see the Mediterranean, nor the yachts of tax-shy billionaires. What I can see, however, is an abundance of tracked furniture like Armco barriers. This is the Norisring, and even in the off season, with an autumnal scattering of leaves gently littering the asphalt, it’s very clear what this spot is used for on occasion.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

I stopped here in an Audi RS3 sedan that CT was tasked with bringing back to the UK after its press launch duties ended. It is a suitable car for a lap of the Norisring, sometimes referred to as “Monaco of Germany” or “Fränkisches Monaco”, with Audi being the lap record holder via Nico Müller in an RS5 DTM. The weather? Just 46.618 seconds – long time this place isn’t.

The current layout is only 1.4 miles long. Even CT’s beloved Curborough Sprint Course is technically longer if you do the figure-eight loop. However, it will take us a little over 46 seconds to get around today. Partly because the speed limit never exceeds 50 km / h here, but also because I will be doing the first part of the tour on foot.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

You can’t quite drive around the Norisring, with large concrete barriers blocking the starting gate when the race is not taking place. The RS3 is parked as close as possible to the final position on the grid, and I’m heading towards the start line, just past the most significant element of the circuit.

Now is the time to dive into the dark side of the place’s history. The Norisring runs on public roads at the edge of a huge four square mile area on the outskirts of Nuremberg, infamous for its use in Nazi Party rallies. Part of the track sits atop the Zeppelinfield, so called due to the landing of one of its airships by Ferdinand von Zeppelin in 1909. It is run by the Zeppelinhaupttribüne, a large stone tribune measuring nearly a quarter mile long.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

Designed by Albert Speer, the structure survived heavy bombardment of the region before the Allied victory at the Battle of Nuremberg. Shortly after taking control of the city, US forces detonated the swastika that had long stood atop the grandstand.

However, it wouldn’t be long before the zone was used for something more positive: running. The first event took place in 1947, with fuel supplied by the occupying US military. The grandstand has been converted into an observation platform that can accommodate thousands of motorsport fans. Initially, the circuit made a name for itself through motorcycle racing, but over time the Norisring was best known for cars.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

The track should really be called the ‘Nurembergring’, but as this would confuse the Nurburgring, already firmly established for decades at the time, a different name was needed. In 1950, the track was named “Norisring”, taking the town’s original name.

The grid walk is over, I’m back in the RS3 and took the ‘wrong way’ around the track to get to the end of the start / finish straight. From there we enter a one way system, Armco and capture fences are present throughout the process. The first turn is a very slight bend to the right before arriving at the hairpin of Turn 2 named “Grundig Kehre” after the owners of some buildings nearby.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

Previously the bend was further down the road, but after Pedro Rodriguez’s fatal crash in a Ferrari 512 in 1971 it was brought closer to the start / finish straight to reduce speeds. Since then, the layout of the track has not changed at all.

While it would be fun to rotate the RS3 around the bobby pin while squeezing the rough band, there is a pass line at the exit. From there we have another crease mirroring the one on the opposite side of the barrier, followed by the Schöller-S chicane, made up of left-handed and 90-degree right-handed people. This brings you to the wide back straight, behind the imposing Zeppelinhaupttribüne.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

Turn 6 is another barely there, followed by the sharp Dutzendteich Kehre. A slight left turn brings me to the top of the start / finish straight and those big chunks of concrete. Our turn is over.

Although sports cars thundered around the Norisring for a few years (Jean-Louis Schlesser’s lap record in a Sauber C9 Group C held up for some time), the track is more closely associated with DTM. Before Covid, these races would attract around 200,000 spectators, enjoying another motorsport experience.

Take an off-season tour of “Monaco of Germany” - Features

Rather than driving to a big lot in the middle of nowhere, fans come to this street circuit via public transport, get much closer to the action than they normally would, and have the option of getting into the beautiful center of Nuremberg for the post-race. currywurst. No prizes for guessing what I eat for lunch after the photos are finished.

See also: Retracing The Nurburgring Sudschleife – The Even Scariest Brother of the Nordschleife

After dropping out of the 2020 race for obvious reasons, the DTM returned to the Norisring in 2021 in its new GT3-based guise, albeit under grotesque circumstances with questionable choices made by both pilots and flight attendants. But hey, we can’t imagine this hurting the popularity of the race too much. It’s definitely a motorsport event to keep on your bucket list (it’s on mine now, of course), but at the very least be sure to stop by for your own spin. It will be time well spent.


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