A brief history of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring

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Arguably the first car race to take place was that of the “Paris-Bordeaux-Paris” track, a 732 mile race that took place in June 1895. In every generation since, the world of motorsport has been become one of the most technologically advanced sports of modern times. Every year motorsport fans around the world follow the racing calendar.

One great thing about modern motorsports is that there is something for everyone. From Formula 1 to Nascar, Le Mans, Rally and more, the world of motorsport is as diverse as it is invigorating. As sports gas evolved, fans and participating pilots continued to seek out new thrills; generally, this results in the conquest of new tracks and new grounds.

One of the most legendary races of all time is the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. If you are new to a gearbox, you must have heard of the Nürburgring as it is often used as a test track by a wide range of car manufacturers.

However, when automakers aren’t using the track to test their car’s limits, it hosts the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. On that note, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at the history of the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

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The Nürburgring 24 Hours debuted decades ago

24 hours of the Nürburgring

Via: M. Volk, Shutterstock

Nürburgring is a small town in Germany with one of the most technical and longest tracks in motor racing. The world discovered the Nürburgring in 1927 when the track hosted the German Grand Prix as part of the Formula 1 championship.

This Grand Prix opened the door to more races. In the 1960s, this track hosted some of the longest races ever. For example, from 1965 to 1971, this track hosted the Road Marathon, which lasted 84 hours most of the time. This was taken up a notch in 1971 when the race lasted 96 hours.

A year earlier, however, in 1970, a new race was introduced at the Nürburgring, and that was the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. This race is similar to most of the 24 hour races held on other tracks like Spa Francorchamps. The 24 Hours of the Nürburgring hosted touring cars for the first time on this German circuit.

In the first year when the race started, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Clemens Schickentanz were the first to win the trophy. These drivers won the race in a BMW 2002 TI.

Over the next three years, BMW won the trophy in the BMW 2002, BMW 2800 CS and BMW 3.0 CSL. One of the most memorable victories at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring was Niki Lauda’s victory in 1973.

As interest in this race began to peak, the oil crisis erupted. As a result, there were no races from 1974 to 1975.

In 1976 the winning car was the Porsche 911 Carrera which had Herbert Hechler and Fritz Müller at the wheel. After this victory, Porsche won three more titles.

That winning streak was then taken by Ford, who retained the league title for two consecutive years. They won the race with the 1979-1980 Ford Escort and the 1981-1982 Ford Capri. In 1981, the Ford Championship was won by Fritz Müller, who became the first driver to win four races in the history of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.

Notably, BMW enjoyed a dominant decade in the 90s, securing eight titles throughout that ten-year span. The first half of the 2000s was a bit more competitive with Chrysler Viper and BMW each achieving two wins between 2001 and 2005.

However, Porsche, with different interpretations of their 997 GT3-RSR, won the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring four years in a row from 2006 to 2009, all with Timo Bernhard and Marcel Tiemann at the wheel. Over the past decade, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-AMG have had their share of the loot. Manthley Racing won with a Porsche 911 GT3 R in 2021, its drivers setting a new shortest distance record.

What you need to know about the Nürburgring event

Sabine-Schmitz-Kurve on the Nordschleife

via Twitter

When the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring began, the sport was only reserved for FIA Group N series cars. However, over time it evolved to include more passenger cars and production cars. extremely fast that make up the GT3 class.

The race is around 15.7 miles long and covers some of the most popular spots on the Nürburgring. This includes the Nordschleife. During the race, 180 cars are expected to qualify for the race, 150 taking the starting positions. The next step is a qualifying race among the top 40. To avoid traffic jams, FIA regulations decided that the race would take place in waves of speed. This eliminates congestion and prevents stacking.

For each car, two drivers take turns driving; at the end of the day, there can be at least 700 pilots taking turns on the track. To determine who’s driving at what time, the race is divided into relays, with each stint lasting up to two and a half hours. The outgoing pilot benefits from a compulsory two-hour rest period before returning to the track. However, nothing prevents a driver from driving for a full 24 hours.

Since the start of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, many icons have had the chance to race and win. Some of the most memorable names in the history of this endurance racing event include Niki Lauda, ​​Augusto Farfus, Bernd Mayländer, Christian Danner, Johnny Cecotto, Jörg Müller, Mike Rockenfeller, Nicki Thiim and Sabine Reck.


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