In 2016 we plan to organise a trip to the Nurburgring so this article discusses car rental at the Nurburgring.
Avoid the rookie mistake of renting too much car. If you are unfamiliar with the track and the traffic you will encounter it would be foolish to dole out cash for a Porsche GT3, for example. I hear people trying to justify these extravagant rentals, using terms like ’more fun’ ‘once in a lifetime’.
But it all comes down to a pricey ride for an ego trip, if you ask me, the amount of fun you will take away from this experience has nothing to do with extravagance of your car. If you do not actually drive a 1000 hp Mansory GT2 in your day to day life, you can’t hope to enjoy one on the Nordschleife. Here are the reasons why:
Problems with driving high-power, high-cost automobiles in the Touristenfahrten
- Increased Performance Expectations — The driver of a powerful vehicle will often feel the need to outperform in every way; slamming the gas at each straightway in an effort to justify the expensive choice of car and increasing the possibility of hitting the curves at excessive speeds and losing control.
- The Ego Smack — Drivers in an extravagant Porsche GT3 will invariably feel a sharp prick to the ego when overtaken by an unassuming Golf mk2 that has proven a worthy contender on the asphalt — this can actually spoil the fun.
- Accident Prone —In all my years of experience renting cars, I can say that M3s and GT3s do fewer miles before the inevitable collision than any other rental car.
The Advantages of the renting the Clio or Swift
- Cost Effective — Spending less means you are able to complete more laps in a day.
- -No Worries — No need to worry about the expense of the car just get comfy and learn the Nordschleife.
- -No Ego Smack — If you are overtaken and by a Ferrari, big deal! But, if you overtake a Ferrari in your Clio, You go home a hero!
- Reduced Risk of Crashing — There is a diminished risk of accidents with a cheaper automobile, and if the worst should happen you are not looking at an economically debilitating fee — just over €2500, at the low end.
“But Wait,” I hear some people shout “ I am not like these other rookie types, I have experience with racing and want a car I can tell stories about!”
That’s great, but do you think your experience is going to help you come in first place against an entire list of Minis? Or Swifts? Probably not, especially if this is your first visit to the circuit. You would glean more experience in a Clio for 25 laps then you will in a GT3 for only 4.
“Yeah… but I don’t know if I will ever come back. I really want to make the most of this Day!”
This is perfectly understandable, but being on the blacktop at Nuremberg is a momentous occasion enough without your wrecking an expensive vehicle. If you really want to get behind the wheel of an exotic car, may I suggest a road tour with RSR and a more sensible car for high speeds and racetracks?
Why Driving a regular ‘Airport Rental’ is not a Good Idea
Driving a regular rental is not a good idea for many reasons. First, rental companies like Hertz, Europcar and Avis expressedly forbid the use of their cars for competitions on race circuits, namely the Nordschleife in touristenfahrten. Should the worst happen and the driver kills/injures someone in a crash, third-parties may be covered by the Rental Insurance — depending on the caliber of lawyer handling the case and the height of their fee.
But you will still owe the company a car
While the ‘econo-box’ is not likely to feature GPS tracking devices to reveal the locations the car has visited, any experienced rental company is going to notice the blue brake discs and heat damage on the tires, indicative of competitive driving.
They can also look up online databases and produce photo evidence that the car was driven at a race. There have been many lifetime bans delivered as well as charges of up to €2000 levied to drivers who are on their return flight.
Oh, and if you think the premium rental companies, like 911 or M3, will be any easier to fool you’d be mistaken. Your phone will be ringing as you pull into the North loop; these guys are always a step ahead.
The only times a driver may get away with a stunt like this would be during one of those mid-winter openings where there will be few photographers to produce photographic evidence. Just be sure to drive at nice 30 mph and be sure you leave no evidence of accidents on the car.
The Worst Case Scenario
But no matter what you do, you must always keep the Worst Case Scenario in mind. Only a fool will neglect this portion of the agreement. During my years in the business, I would make an effort to make this part both dire and unmistakably clear. Better to be scared than unprepared.
This is the small print you should bear in mind before you drive onto a racetrack.
- What is the maximum amount you will be required to pay for damages to the vehicle?
- What is the maximum amount that you will be asked to pay for damages and crashes on the Nurburgring?— I have seen accidents that cost as much as €12000, but they average at around €2000.
- What is the maximum you will be asked to pay for damage to another vehicle? Some companies require their customers to pay a penalty covering this.