Easter at “The Ring”
Over the Easter holiday, a group of S2000 owners from the UK, Jersey, the USA, Sweden, and Luxembourg drove across Northern Europe to gather together with S2K’s from Germany, Italy and The Netherlands at the world famous Nurburgring in Germany. The event was organized by S2ki member Ben Hampton who did this write up of the event…
Another year older, yet I still can’t get a good night’s sleep before a Ring Trip! Was up and reading a trashy novel at 05:30, but still had a half day at work to struggle through. I have no idea what I signed at work as I spent most of the morning counting down the minutes. Then suddenly, it was 12:30 and time to head home for packing, cleaning and mild panic. My checklist worked well except for realising two minutes before arriving at the harbour that I hadn’t filled up with petrol. D’oh.
SBC was already waiting for us with his freshly modded CRX and the sun was shining! Usual boring wait until time to board the ferry. Not sure if this bloke even managed to get on the boat due to a low tide. And then we’re off!
Ninety minutes later and we’re on French soil. Yep, the place still smells funny. Andy almost gets side-swiped at the first roundabout by an errant French driver, but gets past. Onto the motorway and blast up through the gears, enveloping poor old SBC in soot as my engine starts to clear away the cobwebs of a winter in Jersey. It’s a nice evening so we put the roof down, to the absolute fascination of a car load of young French teenaged boys, who overtake us twice to stare at the car. Being smug, I nail it and pass them at almost legal speeds.
The drive to our hotel in Caen passes quickly and uneventfully and we’re safely ensconced in our rooms, eating sarnies and drinking Smirnoff Ice (for SBC and Elspeth) and Jack Daniels (for me). Feel tired but excited that we’re at last on holiday. ZZZZZ
The anticipation of a 7+ hour drive to the Ring prevents me from getting too much sleep, so I’m up and ready before the others. The usual good breakfast of croissants, bread, ham, etc should tide us through til a late lunch, and we’re on the road and heading eastwards by 9:30. The weather is completely pants, so its roof up, heater on and admire the wet countryside outside the car. SBC now realises the benefit of a passenger as Elspeth quickly gets to grips with the tollbooths, rather than me squeezing over the central tunnel, trying to lob money at the inevitably ugly attendant.
We’re through France by 12:30 and into crappy old Belgium with its bumpy roads, worse weather and some appalling drivers. A noticeable lack of roadworks is a pleasant surprise, but they manage to squeeze in one last contraflow in the 5 miles before the border. Despite their best efforts, we’re across the country by 2:30 and grab a break at the first German service station. We parked up next to a worryingly large convoy of Brits with *ahem* interesting modified cars and ponder if this bodes badly for the Ring.
Back on the road and we make the Berghotel a whole three minutes before the satnav reckoned. Thomas is overjoyed to see me, and then I ruined his whole weekend by introducing him to Elspeth. He faked tears and threatened to scratch her eyes out, but he quickly starting checking out SBC as the lone driver. We unpacked and headed out with Sarge in his Integrale, who been in the area for a few days ahead of us. One VERY slippery lap later and we’re praying it will dry out. Back to the hotel for a meal and beers, until Tim & Betsy, Andy and Mark arrive around 11pm. More beers and chat until late-ish, then off to our tiny duvets and truly crap pillows.
Plenty of light streaming through the naff curtains gives me hope of nice weather. Nope. Lots of mist blanketing the area. Bugger. More people arrive at the hotel in dribs and drabs over the morning and we head off for a recce lap once the mist has burned off. The track is drier but still not great. Its hugely busy at the track – Brunnchen is absolutely packed and all the car parks are chocca. Quite a few accidents occur and close the track briefly. A Porsche 911 has gone into the Armco sideways on Flugplatz, an Evo has folded up its driver’s side wheels under the car and a 350Z is looking unhappy on a flatbed lorry.
We grab another three laps over the day before calling it quits and heading back for tea (most of us) or beer (Lloyd). The five lap curse rears its head as Sarge’s Integrale won’t start and Lloyd has cracked his front disc after 3 back-to-back laps. We stay at the Berghotel for a good dinner and drink beers, play poker and talk bullshit.
Sarge is up and about getting his car taken away to be fixed, Lloyd thinks “balls to this” and heads back out onto the track. A leisurely and COPIOUS breakfast gets most of us back into the land of the living.
Its less busy today as the weather is pretty inclement, but a dry line soon shows up and we’re off! We head off to the track for a few good laps, but there are accidents galore, the worst of which is Porsche with no front end after Bergwerk. Debris everywhere and the rumour of a dead biker. More accidents and closures mean plenty of waiting around, before a last lap or two just prior to shutting for the night.
We’re off to the Wilden Schwein for the traditional slap-up dinner (or more accurately, bacon soup all-round!). As last year, they had set up a long dinning table for us in a separate room, but unlike last year, I had warned them to provide plenty of bacon soup! Lots of converts to this delicacy, but somehow Ralston hadn’t heard of it, so sat sulking until I gave him some mine. The usual high quality food – and lots of it – so before long there are 30 plus tourists holding their bellies and groaning. Back to the hotel at a greatly reduced speed meant no-one threw up, then time to wake up Frank and get the bloody bar open. I mean, who closes a bar at 10pm on a Saturday night? Sheesh! Sarge set up his projector, so there was much ribald comments as various attempts at photography were demonstrated. More beer, more poker and then time to crawl up to bed.
Poor old Budgie didn’t look too good, so didn’t partake in the copious breakfast, but was seen to be munching on the chocolate bunny provided by Frank. Again, the weather was pretty naff, so we mooched around until the parade lap at 11. Wipers going, roofs down, bloody slidey, but absolutely fantastic to see the whole of Schwedenkreuz filled with our cars! Lots of passing each other, a few video-cameras going and a lot of fun. I have a moment exiting Bergwerk that terrifies me but appears on film as the world’s tiniest twitch. Bah. The parade lap is so popular that we decided to do it again at 3pm after a quick lunch back at the hotel. We never learn. Several corners in, and due to the drier track, it’s a free-for-all, mad-dash for the finish. I stay back with Dembo and Budgie, and never see the others again. Krazik only has petrol for blood so sets a record for most number of laps in one day, yet the BMW doesn’t die. Amazing. Lloyd “Banzai” Jennings obviously hates his car, so buys another bunch of tickets and just keeps going.
The weather has kept away the bikers and more timid of drivers, so most of us manage to get in a few more laps. My final lap of the trip is a fast one with Kobe and SBC following. I’ve done 13 this trip, crossing the 150 lap grand-total. A few incidents on the last day, but no injuries other than to pride and wallets. We traipse back to the hotel for the obligatory line-up photoshoot, then a final dinner together, with plenty of beer and bloody good steaks. Projector time again, for the parade lap footage and more photos, before the hardened drinkers abused their livers some more, while us wimps went to bed.
Finally, the weather looks a little better – now its time to leave! One final big breakfast and people start to head home. We crowbar our bags back into the S and with heavy heart (and even heavier bellies), leave the hotel. The orange Lambo overtakes on the road back to the autobahn, so the chase is on! He knows he’s faster, but waits until I catch up, then nails it, practically disappearing from sight. We both hammer through some corners at 200kmh (all caught on film – yeeehaa) before going our separate ways.
We see Budgie and Kobe parked up at the side of the autobahn, but are past them before we can roll down the windows and hurl insults. More naff weather follows us out of Germany and across Belgium, but the sun finally comes out in France. We make good time and pass Sarge just short of Caen. Despite my satnav telling me “you have reached your destination” half way up a slip road, we reach the hotel and chill out before a leisurely dinner. Feel knackered so head off to bed early.
Another good French breakfast, then a gentle thrash to the Kart track near Cancale, where we meet up with Sarge. SBC causes a minor crash on the road by daring to wait to turn across the stream of traffic with his indicator on. Unobservant van driver two behind Andy promptly plows into the back of a people carrier. Ooops. All four of us get onto the track and Elspeth punts me off as I try to pass her around the outside. Thanks, dear. Great fun though – but makes me wonder how she’d have driven on the Ring! Andy and Sarge then scare themselves with the 125cc Rotax karts, with Sarge drifting through most of corners ahead of Andy, until he spins off, much to Andy’s amusement.
On to St Malo, our port, and time for a pizza and beer before heading to the hypermarket for beer and sweets for SBC and miscellaneous junk for Elspeth and I. Onto the boat and we leave dead on time. One quick journey later and we’re driving back onto Jersey soil. Another trip done, lots of great people met, a bunch of good laps driven and a fab time had by all. Thanks to everyone for making this a bloody good weekend. Unfortunately, due to being on honeymoon next year, plus the increasing busyness of the track at holiday periods, means this will most likely be my last Easter Ring Trip. A shame, as I’ve been at the Ring for 5 of the past 7 Easter weekends, but I fancy the idea of summer trips, with guaranteed weather and less people. My next trip (with the repaired SBC) with be the first weekend in July 2006 and the thread is already up and running.
Are we there yet??