The Nurburgring Nordschleife is the longest racetrack in the world. It is 13 miles long, it has a number of small towns and villages within its perimeter and incredibly it was built almost a century ago. But why was it built, how long did it take and just how much did it cost to build the Nurburgring? Find out in this article.
Why was the Nurburgring built?
In June 1907 Germany hosted one of its first ever automobile races. Known as the Kaiserpreis (Emperor’s Prize) Auto Race, it was held on a 73 mile road course around the Taunus mountains.
With the exception of Brooklands in England, purpose built race circuits didn’t exist. Aimed to be a showcase for Germany’s mechanical engineering prowess, the Kaiserpreis was open to cars with engines less than EIGHT LITRES!
Unfortunately for Kaiser Wilhelm the event was not won by a German driver nor a German car. Instead an Italian driver in a Fiat won the race. Cue disgruntled Wilhelm having to present the winning trophy to a charming Italian man.
‘Why didn’t Germany win?’ the Kaiser exclaimed. ‘Because Germany doesn’t have its own test track’ was one response (neither did Italy, but nevermind that). From that moment forward there was a desire to construct a purpose-built test track and race circuit, and the Eifel mountain region looked like as good a place as any.
The outbreak of World War 1 put pay to any plans of circuit construction. After the war had finished and the Kaiser had abdicated, the Treaty of Versailles had imposed serious debt and unemployment on Germany.
The Weimar Republic, the government of the time, were open to ideas on how bring money and jobs to the country. The Mayor of Cologne was a strong proponent in rekindling the plan to build a race circuit in the Eifel region, and before long he had some backing from government officials. The Nurburgring was soon to be born.
Who designed the Nurburgring?
A competition was launched to find the best ideas for the design, location and layout of the proposed circuit. The winning design was from Hans Weidenbrück who proposed the circuit centred around the ~750 year old Nurburg castle.
When was the Nurburgring built?
It was in 1925 that the Weimar Republic officials in Berlin gave an agreement in principle for the beginning of construction of the Nurburgring. In Adenau on April 27 1925, a group of men with shovels and axes came together and broke the first ground for the construction of the Nurburgring.
When did the Nurburgring open?
The early phases of construction were met with opposition from environmentalists and those who thought it pointless to build such a large circuit in the middle of nowhere, far from Berlin (and definitely nowhere near Nuremberg).
However, in September 1925 the first stones were laid to mark out the start finish line, and it was at this point that the government fully approved construction of the circuit.
Four different contractors built different sections of the circuit simultaneously. They employed a total of up to 2,500 workers at any one time who were housed in purpose-built accommodation at various sections of the circuit.
The end of the Dottinger Hohe straight leading in to Tiergarten (going away from camera)
Wipperman (coming towards the camera)
Aremberg heading down towards the Foxhole (going away from camera)
On June 18 1927, the circuit was officially opened by government officials and a parade lap was undertaken by dignitaries and journalists.
The first motorbike race began on the same day, using the full circuit which combined the Nordschleife and Sudschleife. The following day the first car race was held on the same layout and won by Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes.
The Nurburgring opening on June 18, 1927
How long did it take to build the Nurburgring?
From the first ground being broken in April 1925 to the first event being held in June 1927, it took just 2 years and 52 days to build the Nurburgring. An incredible achievement considering how long the circuit was back then.
How much did it cost to build the Nurburgring?
The speed in which the Ring was constructed is almost as impressive as its cost. With a total of nearly 25000 employees across the lifespan of whole project, it was never going to be cheap, but it did serve its purpose of creating thousands of employment opportunities.
So how much did it cost to build the Nurburgring? In 1927 it cost 14 million Reichsmark to complete the construction of the Nurburgring. Converted to today’s money that works out to be around £40 million.
Considering the average Formula 1 track cost around £220 million to build in 2017, and the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi cost £400 million, £40 million for the incredible, beautiful and one-of-a-kind Nurburgring Nordschleife seems like an absolute bargain.
It wasn’t long after the circuit opened that the public could buy a ticket to use the Nurburgring as a one-way desrestricted toll road for tourist driving, just like you can still do to this day. I can’t imagine that when it was opened anyone expected the circuit to be covered in graffiti less than a 100 years later.