I did it! I stayed through my first ever 24H endurance race! And as i saw the Sun rising in the horizon with race cars barreling towards the bridge i was standing on, what i saw and experiences will forever be imprinted into my gearheaded brain.
I was tired, my body was slowly shutting down and my mind was slowly wondering away, but my heart was filled of joy as i stood there, watching the cars go by. It was beautiful, it was surreal, it was the 24 Hours of Nurburgring welcoming a brand new day.
Truth be told, enduring a 24H race wasn’t all that difficult (unless you’re a participant in the race, but if you were, you’d probably wouldn’t be reading this), granted i had pretty awesome and clear weather, but with this being my first ever attempt, i did learn a few things which i think will be useful for anyone keen to join in the festivities in the future. Here are my Top 10 tips!
Tip 1: Read up and research!
There’s plenty of online material on the event, from first hand accounts to full on high budget professional videos on the Nurburgring race! It pays to learn as much as you can before heading down, doing so will mean less chances of missing out on hidden treasures. Like for instance, a certain treasure trove of a diecast shop hidden away in a Gas station! Doing your research also helps give you an idea of what you can roughly expect when you eventually arrive.
Tip 2: Plan ahead
What do you do with all that information gathered from your research? This event is massive with multiple fringe events happening at various locations around the track almost concurrently. So if you want to make the most of your time and experience as much as possible, plan ahead!
Tip 3: Transport
Don’t have your own transport whilst in Germany? Rent a car. Better yet, rent a sports car! If you are planning to attend the race, get a parking pass and drive! You’ll need a car not just for the ease of getting around the massive trackside locations, but it’ll come in handy for storing all your equipment, clothes, sustenance and all the swag you’ll eventually buy!
Tip 4: Arrive early
You might say, “It’s a 24H race, why do i need to arrive early?”. Well, sure, you can come later, but then you’ll be spending your first few hours just orienting yourself around (or settling documentation/paperwork) that’ll you’ll miss out on a host of activities that are happening all around you.
Arriving early will also give you the benefit of revising any of your previous plans for the event and will allow you to enjoy the event at a more leisurely pace with no need to worry about finding a parking lot!
Want to take a walk around the paddocks? Sure. Have a look at the shop? Go head! Peep into rival teams’ pit garages? Why not? Ogle at lovely German frauleins? That’s entirely up to you.
Tip 5: Choose your equipment and pack extra
Remember that tip about reading up and researching ahead of the event? Well, that will allow you to reference the pictures others have taken when you are picking out what equipment you’ll be bringing to document your race day! No, that iPhone camera just ain’t gonna cut it! Remember to bring extra batteries too unless you are a journalist or VIP with access to the media centre or various suites that have power points. (If all else fails, remember to pack in an extra charging cable that can plug into your car for last minute emergencies!)
Tip 6: Choose your gear
It’s been said by many that weather at the Nordschleife can be pretty unpredictable, on my visit, i lucked out and had a lovely sunny experience with only some rain coming down at the last hour. A week later, a friend of mine visited the ‘Ring and it was freezing cold. Last year’s race? It hailed. So pack for the unexpected and keep the extra gear in the car if you need to. It’s always good to over prepare here. You don’t want to be stuck outside in the middle of a rainy cold night with just a T-shirt!
If you are planning to venture out to various points of the track, some track viewing locations might require you to do some hiking, so remember to wear proper shoes for safety!
Tip 7: Cash (and a lot of self control)
There’s going to be a lot of merchandise. A LOT! Also, if you are staying the night, chances are the little Bratwurst, Schnitzel and Bier kiosk are not going to accept your Visa/Mastercard, no matter what the ads say.
Tip 8: Sustenance
Yes, the little Bratwurst, Schnitzel and Beer kiosk, it’ll be a great idea if you took note of where they are located just in case you get a little hungry in the middle of the night! Also, it’ll be good to keep some water on you just in case. Remember to pack some wet tissues for cleaning up and go easy on the Beer!
Tip 9: Pace yourself
Remember, there’s 24 hours (more actually since you’ll be there hours before the race starts) to enjoy the event, so try not to over exert yourself. There is pretty much no way anyone can attend every single fringe activity, so just take it easy. If you are tired, find a place to rest. I used the backseats of my car for a little nap.
Tip 10: Have fun!
Need we say more? Just enjoy the moment and keep an open mind. You are at the most legendary race track in the entire World, spectating one of the most gruelling endurance races ever to be held. Life is good.