While many modern fans have seen the Nurburgring in its short, stadium-based configuration, the old Nurburgring Nordschleife was a behemoth of a track.
More than 20 kilometers long, an F1 car needed around 7 minutes to complete a lap. Watch these first two videos showing laps of the old Nurburgring in all its glory.
1957: Juan Manuel Fangio, ‘the maestro’, scored his final Grand Prix win on the Nurburgring. And many believed it to be his greatest ever win.
This was also one of the earliest successful race strategies that involved a pit stop. Although the stop was bungled, that didn’t stop Fangio from clawing his way back into contention and passing the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins in the closing stage to win.
Read more about this race: 1957 German Grand Prix
1965: Amazingly Jim Clark only won once at the Nurburgring. However, this sole win was a dominant one, leading all the way and clinching the championship early in dominant style ahead of Graham Hill.
1967: It was a brilliant ANZ 1-2-3, as Denny Hulme took his only win at the Nurburgring in the year of his championship victory. He held off Jack Brabham and Chris Amon, who were the only real contenders for the win at the end. Dan Gurney was in contention for the win early on in his famous Eagle, until his driveshaft broke.
1968: One of the most memorable Nurburgring races ever. In atrocious, wet conditions, with barely any visibility, Jackie Stewart won it in his Matra. And it wasn’t just any win, the Flying Scot won it by 4 minutes! It was something that must be seen to be believed.
1973: While this was another Jackie Stewart victory, he was run very close this year. Young Tyrrell teammate Francois Cevert pushed him all the way from start to finish, only finish 1.6 seconds behind.
As Stewart had already decided to retire at the end of the season, he thought Cevert would be more than ready to succeed him and to become world champion himself. Alas, the Frenchman died at Watkins Glen in the final race of the season.
1976: Niki Lauda had never won at the Nurburgring before, and he was trying hard to do so in 1976. But while pushing to catch early leader Jochen Mass, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari at Bergwerk.
He spun into an earth bank and his car burst into flames. Other drivers caught up in the crash stopped to pull Laua from the burning wreck. He fought for his life for days, and even when he did recover, his face was permanently scarred.
Even so, his heart was focused on returning to racing, and even though he didn’t manage to win the title that year, the mere fact that he was back in racing – and winning – was testament to his extraordinary resilience and desire to win.
WARNING: Some people may find this video disturbing. Discretion is advised.
As for the Nurburgring, Lauda’s accident hastened its demise. The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association had already urged the German Grand Prix be moved to Hockenheim in 1970 while work was done to improve dsafety at the Nurburgring.
But Lauda’s near-fatal crash made it impossible to resist the arguments that it was impossible to amrshal a track of the Nurburgring’s size effectively. The German Grand prix moved back to Hockenheim for 1977, and F1 racing never returned to the Nordschleife. The closest it has come since was last year, when Nick Heidfeld took his BMW around a demonstration lap of the old Nordschleife (pictured).
More about the Nürburging: 10 best corners on the Nürburging Nordschleife
Don’t miss the second part of Journeyer’s guide to the history of the German Grand Prix tomorrow. You can get F1 Fanatic in your feed reader or in your inbox by subscribing: Subscribe to F1 Fanatic
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