The Green Hell, Life at the Nordschleife
By Mike Kojima, Photos by Jeff Naeyaert
It's past 2 am and I am lost somewhere in the middle of the pitch black German countryside. I am stumbling around in the bush. My tiny LED mechanics light can hardly illuminate the sucking quagmire I am trying to escape. My boots which I am damn glad I packed, squish in mud and water. It is probably in the high 30's and the cold damp air penetrates several layers of North Face goretex and fleece. I now understand why multi time F1 champ Jackie Stewart called the Nordscheife The Green Hell.
|There was a drift event held on the course after qualifying. It was amazing to see thousands of cheering Germans, more than any Formula D event so enthusiastic about drifting. Jaded American fans are lame. Our top D1 pros are much better, the German drifters were about as good as public Drift Day drivers in the USA. If these fans could see our pro Formula D drivers they would freak out.
I hear the faint chorus of racing engines strangely blended with eerie euro techno/trance and push toward the source of the sound. Eventually I see the glow of distant lights and push my way through the forest. Suddenly I find myself in a clearing. The glow of neon lights and pulsating strobes cuts the darkness and the smell of campfires and cooking bratwursts fill the air.
|Two of the greatest members of the High Performance industry, Klaus Wohlfarth, founder of KW suspension on the left and Olaf Manthey, founder of Manthey, a non tuning Porsche tuning company and successful race team. Manthey is perhaps the most successful Porsche endurance racing team and builder of 911 series race cars. They also build ultra high performance and reliable street cars. I win the Foot in the Mouth Award when I got Olaf Manthey mad by asking a question about the tuning industry. “I am not a tuner” he replied icily. AWKWARD. I found out later that to hardcore Germans, “tuner” carries the same connotation as “ricer” to us. If someone called me a Ricer I'd be pissed too. Whoops my bad. Carter Jung editor of Import Tuner Magazine on the far left contemplates saying he is from Import Engineering Magazine.
Suddenly a hand grabs my shoulder and spins me around, “Japanese?” A grinning German yells over the din of hundreds of race cars and a nearby makeshift dance club powered by portable generators. Nissan R35 GTR very good, good car! No American, I yell back. (English is the safe universal language to address foreigners in Europe and many Germans speak english) Ahh! A cold beer is pushed into my hands with a hot bratwurst and I am hoisted into a multi story covered structure made of pipe and wood to see the race from a makeshift viewing platform which is probably better made than the patio in my house.
|Jeff about to eat a hunk of Schnitzel washed down with Freeway Cola. Schnitzel is exactly the same as Japanese Tonkatsu but with gravey instead of sauce. Germans don't have diet Coke, just Coke light which still has sugar but less of it. German food is very good but is very meat and dairy heavy and fruit and vegetable light. I think I have gained 6-7 lbs. Germans are much fitter and thinner than Americans though. It means we eat utter crap. If Jeff looks beat it's because we have hardly been sleeping.