27th to 29th May
Brothers Richard and Adam Fry (right) took an aging Volkswagen Jetta to the famous Nurburgring Race Circuit in Germany, for a fun Track Day, where members of the public can drive the course.
Before heading off to Germany, Richard and Adam spent some time making the car ready for its track debut.
They stripped out as much unnecessary weight as they could, and also tinkered to improve the handling and general overall performance.
The project was in memory of Richard and Adam’s sister Rhian, who died suddenly in 2000, aged just 17.
The brothers hope that their project has helped to help raise awareness of CRY, and are planning more Track Days in future.
Read the diary of their trip to Germany below!
Day 1 – late Friday 26th May & Saturday 27th May
22:27 (Friday) – With Adam driving, we set off for Dover – fully loaded and guided by Sat-Nav.
23:45 (Friday) – Sat-Nav sent us on a wild goose chase. Bored of geese, we shut the lid and the shut the woman’s voice up in one angry swoop! We are now pleased we purchased the AA Euro map.
01:10 (Saturday) – M20 dot matrix signs warn of heavy Dover traffic. No notice taken of signs, as Clarkson says: “they lie”.
01:25 – Entered Dover…heavy traffic, engine off and we’re stationary. We spot a Gumball Rally Lotus. Bad traffic keeps us at a snail’s pace for next forty minutes.
02:05 – Finally arrive at ferry boarding gate. Friendly double-chinned Norfolk Line check-in man informs us that the 02:00 has just set sail…..if we’re lucky we might 04:00. If not, it’s a long wait until 08:00. Great!
02:45 – Whilst parked up we spot a Caterham 7 with a ring sticker! Had a chat with the driver who gave us some tips and general encouragement.
03:40 – Board ferry.
06:00 – Off ferry in France, and finally get on motorway.
We shoot through France and stop in Belgium for a fuel top-up. Holland and Germany are easy, straight through. We start to see hills and good looking roads – getting excited!
Stop to top-up on fuel near the ring. After we set off we notice the alternator light come on. We check it out – car looks OK and is charging, so we press on.
Signs for ring! Car starts to play up – stuttering up some hills – but it is a warm day and it has done a fair few miles!
13:30 – We arrive at the ring – so much activity, it’s really happening! Area is full of race-prepared and exotic cars. There are a large number of British people also.
We take a look around, but don’t do a lap yet due to the car being full of our stuff, and also because of its little faults. We do talk to many people though, asking if they know of a VW equipped garage.
Weather isn’t too bad just showers now and again
15:00 – Get a lift to ringracing.org to see where it is, and then take the Jetta up straight away, we are booked in for 18:00.
We head back to the ring car park to kill a little extra time. Car seems OK now – light still on and exhaust blowing a bit.
18:30 – Get car looked at. Bad news – they can’t fix exhaust or alternator as it’s hard to find the parts for an old car at the weekend.
We head to hotel Lang and set up for the night.
Get to hotel – nice. Empty some of the stuff we now realise we didn’t need out of the poor Jetta. It’s not so low at the back now thankfully.
Day 2 – Sunday 28th May
07:00 – After deciding to risk the ‘recovery charge’ of 170 Euros, by doing some laps with our alternator light on, we got up early to have our included breakfast. See two guys at breakfast who were on the ring yesterday in a blue VR6 mk2 Golf. Turns out the owner runs Formula 1 in Brighton! They confirm we have made the right decision by going for it!
08:10 – Arrive at Ring. Track is still wet from overnight rain but nice and empty. Need to time it just right for a clear, not too wet, lap.
09:05 – Rich buys a 1 lap ticket and heads out on our, and the Jetta’s, first lap.
09:08 – Track is damp and very slippery but nice and quiet. Rich takes it relatively easy but it is still very scary for the passenger Got passed by a Lamborghini Diablo, which was exciting – and it didn’t even disappear that quickly! We make it round and it was an exhilarating experience for both of us.
09:22 – Pull back into car park to let the Jetta cool down. Open the bonnet to aid this. The car seemed to cope with its first lap very well, and no sign of any failures even with our alternator light on.
09:50 – Track still seems fairly quiet so I head out for my first lap. It is a nerve-wracking feeling when you put your ticket in the barrier and set off for the 13 miles that you have no clue about – with BMW CLS’s and gt3 911’s flying past you!
First impression was how wide the straight is…..that doesn’t last long though. Started off quite well, but had a small panic when it seemed like about 15 cars were trying to pass me all on one straight! After they got passed I loved every second of the lap and it felt like I got a good rhythm going considering it was my first lap.
We both did another lap each before a sign of the Jetta’s problem occurred. We finished a lap and then parked up but the area was muddy so we decided to move…..car didn’t start. Oh dear! Decided to leave it to cool down for half an hour. This worked a treat, and the Jetta burst into life like it was only a fraction of its age.
This trend of the Jetta fixing itself continued after our next two laps!
15:00 – Lunch Time. The addictive nature of lapping does result in you losing track of time. All of a sudden you feel hungry and find out it’s past lunch time and you’ve not eaten all day! As this happened we decided to have lunch and do some viewing.
We headed to Adenau as this was the only viewing place we knew how to get to. Spent about an hour there in great weather, enjoying a variety of cars and getting some good tips on the best line.
A few recovery trucks passed us so the track must have closed. We thought it was a good time to head back to the start area for a few more laps when the track reopened.
17:30 – Just about to head over to buy a ticket and the Jetta won’t start! Looks like our luck has run out. Well at least we didn’t have to pay the 170 Euro tow-off fee!
We get a jump start from some fellow UK ringers, and with mixed feelings head off gingerly for the hotel.
Only a few hundred metres from our destination we had to stop at some lights, the Jetta didn’t like this and stopped. Being so light it was easy to push for safe parking overnight.
21:00 – Over dinner we weighed up our options. Tow back to the UK or a fix and drive?…..it had to be the fix
Day 3 – Monday 29th May
09:00 – After a quick breakfast we discover the hotel manager speaks excellent English and knows the local VW garage. We get a tow down to them. After explaining in our broken German to the mechanics that we need to leave at about mid-day to catch the ferry he sets to work.
With typical German efficiency, the part is shipped in from Bonn for 11am and promptly fitted.
12:15 – We re-load the Jetta and set off homeward bound feeling a little nervous but also happy we’re on the move.
Germany, Holland and other countries fly by, and after a short stop to refuel both the car and ourselves, we arrive at the port in perfect time. We have a chat to a few other ringers and people that are interested in our car.
21:40 – Back on British soil. Just a quick blast and we’ll be home.
23:18 – After 950 miles, a few mechanical gremlins, serious lack of sleep and a whole lot of fun, we make it back. Both the Jetta and ourselves, thankfully, in one piece.
Adam and Richard Fry
Watch a compilation video of the Jetta at the Nurburgring at – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWJrdEKNgAo
Special thanks to:
- German French and Swedish Car Parts
- The Germans, for having a stunning circuit!