We’ve all seen the videos on YouTube – guys in their road cars with armfuls of opposite lock putting on a show for the crowds and cameras during Touristenfahrten at the Nordschleife. But can you drift on the Nurburgring? Is it legal?
In short, no it’s no. But can you get away with it? Probably. Below is the full explanation.
The birth of Nurburgring drifting
Almost as legendary as the Nordschleife itself is ‘Faszination on the Nurburgring’. A promotional video released by Ruf Automobile in 1987 of its ~460bhp 911 CTR Yellowbird being driven around the ‘Ring by their test driver Stefan Roser.
To say he simply drove it around the ‘Ring is an understatement of the highest order. In one of the most beautiful and perfect displays of on-and-over the limit driving, Stefan extracts every ounce of performance from the car.
The brutal RUF Yellowbird repeatedly overwhelms the rear tyres and Mr Roser dials in the perfect amount of opposite lock on every occasion. He powerslides and drifts the CTR corner after corner, gliding from one to the next seemingly without losing any forward momentum.
An absolute masterclass in car control, given by one of the few people who could tame a Yellowbird, even to this day. You will not find a wilder, more impressive lap of the Ring.
'Official' Nurburgring drift laps
Since the RUF CTR video above, there have been a couple of other drifty Nurburgring lap videos sanctioned by the ‘Ring. The first was by Werner Gusenbauer in a CL55 AMG in 2007.
To help him break traction he had a 100 litre water tank in the boot with a small pump and two nozzles which sprayed on to the rear wheels. An impressive lap seeing how cumbersome the car appears to be, especially with the slightly dim-witted autobox.
More recently came Vaughan Gittin Jr, Formula D champion. He headed to the ‘Ring from the USA to do a full sideways lap in his 900bhp Formula D Mustang.
When he arrived, however, the Eifel weather gods were against him. So he headed out in the wet for some sketchy sideways stuff in his Ford Raptor instead.
Eventually it dried up and he took the Mustang for a spin. The self-confessed ‘Drift King of the Ring’ put together a full drift lap, handbraking and manji-ing the straights in what has to be the most ‘proper’ drifting seen on the ring. That’s him in the picture at the top of this post, drifting around the outside of the Carousel.
King of the Ring though? I’d still give that to Stefan Roser in his RUF.
Can you drift on the Nurburgring?
Why is drifting not allowed in Nurburgring?
As we’ve stated before, for tourist driving sessions the Nordschleife is classed as a public road. Obviously German road driving regulations do not allow drifting. Hence, tourist driving rules at the ‘Ring follow suit.
Plus drifting brings with it an increased level of risk. Anyone with a RWD car can be inspired by some of these YouTube drifting videos and after 15 minutes of practice on Gran Turismo think they’re a Formula D champion in the making.
Unfortunaely that’s never normally the case, and doing your best impression of Mr Gittin Jr. can often lead to an unplanned meeting with Mr Barrier.
You may have seen some of the Nurburgring taxis skidding around on track whilst giving passenger laps. These taxis are officially sanctioned by the ‘Ring and the companies running them will have very good relationships with Nurburgring management. So the marshals will turn a blind eye for those guys more than they will for you.
What happens if you get caught drifting?
To get caught drifting you have to be doing it repeatedly over the course of a lap or two. Or be a prolific drifter and YouTube poster.
One little bit of oversteer at Adenauer Forst or Steilstrecke curve is unlikely to get the marshal’s radios chattering. But continually drifting (or attempting to), especially at the busy spectator areas such as Brunnchen, or doing it with lots of other cars in close proximity, is more likely to get you spotted.
If your dorifto antics are prolific enough to be deemed unsafe by the marshals, they will radio in to one of the car park marshals who will come and pay you a visit when you finish your lap.
After tapping on your window they will be likely to remind you that ‘Driften ist verboten’ – drifting is forbidden. Normally a slap on the wrist and a stern talking to will be your lot for your first offence.
Keep doing it, however, and worse can happen. The official driving regulations state a sanction of 250 Euros is applicable to anyone disobeying the rules, of which drifting is one.
It’s more likely though that you have your lap ticket taken off you and get a ban from entering the circuit. The duration of this is entirely at the marshal’s discretion and it could range from the rest of that day to a life-long ban on your car registration if you’ve been a really dangerous muppet, but that’s quite unlikely.
And don’t forget, being a public toll road means the Polizei can get involved in any incidents. So should your rubbish drifting lead to a crash involving someone else, then the police will want to know all about it.