Sunday 30 August 2015

The Nordschleife and Sudschliefe.

The awesome Nordschleife is of course a well documented historic racing venue , it is an eye-watering experience if you have ever been lucky enough to drive your road car or track day beast around it . 

But not as well known as its big brother is the Südschleife (the Southern Loop). This was opened in 1927 at about the same time as the Nordschleife. In those days it was possible to join the two parts together using what was called the ‘Start und Ziel’ (Start and Finish) section to form a massive 17 mile (28km) circuit called the Gesamtstrecke. In the early days some major events were held on this huge circuit but before long the emphasis began to be focused on the Nordschleife and the Sudschleife was used for testing and smaller events.  It may have only been five miles long but it still contained twenty five corners. While the Nordschleife had a thoroughly well-earned rather scary reputation the Sudscheife was deemed to be marginally safer but reports at the time suggested it was really just as dangerous! Racing cars and trees really don’t mix all that well. Like its big brother it had no crash barriers, no run-off areas, no short-cuts or any escape routes. In other words you got no second chances, you were either on the track or in the trees.

It was popular as a motor bike track however the last event to be run there was a Formula 3 race in 1971. Until 1975 it was still open as a tourist route but then it the bulldozers came in. Since then the track has gradually been neglected and much of it has returned to nature. However diligent searching can unearth some parts of the old track. 

The south loop is not difficult to find. Drive in the direction to Barweiler past the old pits and new buildings. With the Grand Prix track on your right hand side, turn to Scharferkopf on the left. The south loop is near the area where the Grand Prix track crosses the road. Despite being pretty well overgrown in places it is worth a visit, if only to contemplate the heroes who raced around the Gesamtstrecke!

Jock Simpson.