Back in the day, I’d get together with a crew of MINI owners in Germany and we’d do runs that Art had put together through the Odenwald, Schwarzwald and points in between.  A couple of times, we’d run out to the Nurburgring Nordschleife.  With Wednesday being the Dutch Liberation Day and a day off of work, Matt and I went with a couple of guys from work to give Maggie, Too her chance to run the ‘Ring.

Getting to the ‘Ring was no problem as everyone else was wandering off to work. :)  But I’ve gotta tell you that I don’t think I’ve ever been this cold on a May morning.  Maggie was saying 43°F at 7 AM!!  Unfortunately, our efforts to get there for the 09 opening time was wrong as they changed the schedule to 1100 instead.  So, after getting our laps paid for, we got to watch some crazy fast Audis do test laps and just hang out.  Did I mention that it was cold??  We were able to get our pictures taken by the track cam but to see them, you’ll have to select 5/5/2010 on the left, then 0900 / 1000.  Starting around 0950, our crowd was on the entry lanes watching the Audis but after 1002, Matt and I baled to hang out in Maggie because it was too COLD!!  Finally, we wandered over to the little cafe they have trackside and grabbed a spot of chow.

A new trick they have at the ‘Ring is the ‘Ring card.  This is an RFID card that is used not only as the entry pass onto the track but also as a purchasing card for the cafe, too.  The only reason I can see for putting money on the card is to keep the “loose change”.  See, if you put €10 on the card and then buy the €8.20 cheeseburger classic, how are you to get the remaining €1.80?  So, add up all the €1.80 for a day and that can add up to a nice, tidy sum after a weekend.

Of the five cars from our group, I was the only one to have been on the ‘Ring before so I gave some tips and pointers before we took off, like stay between the Armco barriers, keep the right turn signal on and try not to spend too much time lookin in the mirrors for those other, faster cars!!  The first lap was a bum rush to get onto the track and warm the car up.  I was really keen to see how Maggie, Too, my 2010 JCW, drove differently than Maggie, my 2006 MINI Cooper S.  The only notable difference was in the braking performance.  I never hit the ABS at all nor did I ever really smash the brakes down because I continue to underestimate the power of the brakes and need to just crush them more!!  After ~20 minute cool down, we hit the track for our second lap and this was really nice.

My Christmas present last year was a GoPro HD Motorsports Hero camera and I have been taking some random videos whilst driving Maggie “oot and a-boot”.  What I have really been looking forward to is getting Maggie and her camera out on the ‘Ring.  Of course, cameras are verboten whilst on the track but I got good videos of the four laps Matt and I took.  This video is from the second lap where I chase down the four other cars of our group.

The very first car in the video was a BMW 335/E90 and one from our group.  The next car in the group was a BMW M3/E90 and we passed him at 2:58, shortly after the Yokohama Bridge.  The third car of our group was a Nissan 350Z and we passed him at 4:20.  The last car was Renault Clio and we finally catch up to him around 5:45 on probably the fastest part of the track after I missed the shift!!  I’m no expert, by any measure, on driving the ‘Ring, lifting the throttle unnecessarily, missing the apex and completely wrong lines.  But I did have fun running Maggie, Too with my son, Matt, and hanging out with the guys.  More importantly, no one damaged their cars!!  Rule Number One with Maggie:  Must Not Hurt Maggie!!!  As the other guys were only doing two laps, Matt and I ran our other two back to back, which could’ve been a bad mistake.  The brakes were really hot after the third lap and I stopped running the ‘Ring halfway through the last lap.  Better to be safe than sorry.  You can see Maggie lined up for the last lap on the webcam at 12:57 but I’ve not been able to find our picture yet from any of the ‘Ring foto sites.

As for the GoPro, it worked like a champ!  I shot the videos in 1080p HD and it took forever to upload to YouTube, however, it only displays up to 720 and looks like poo in full screen.  Seems like I’m gonna have to sort out how to upload properly.  I might have to paint the camera body itself lo-vis black so Matt wouldn’t have to keep cycling it off it’s mount before and after each lap.  We didn’t do this between the third and fourth laps and got called for it at the booth.  No problem, just played the dumb ‘Merican, pulled the camera off, entered the track and remounted.  Still a bit of a bother.  Over the next week or so, I’ll try to sort out the quality of the videos and get those uploaded somewhere for ya’ll’s entertainment.

But I haven’t forgotten about my friend, Art.  Here’s the full, unedited 904MB video ([download id=”1″], right click, save as…) of the second lap for you critique!


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