Trip to the Nurburgring Nordschleife, August 2018 - My kids first 'Ring Trip!
Added 11.09.2018: Back to the 'Ring again, this time with my kids and via Center Parcs Eiffel - DON'T GO!! Its not like Center Parcs in the UK!! - and complete with three bikes on the roof of the 'new' M3 (the supercharged E92 lasted 10 weeks in my ownership as I wanted a manual 'box, so I've gone back to an E46 M3 manual coupe - AP Brakes, Ohlins Road & Track coilovers, polybushed, nothing else) which ended up as possibly the most loaded M3 ever - see the pics!
Anyway, car loaded to the gunnels, argument had with DFDS Ferry people at Dover regarding bikes on the roof and we were off across France and Belgium to Germany, with no other cars with us this time making fuel stops every other petrol station, the journey went quicker than usual despite the speeds being lower due to kids in the car and bikes on the roof and we were at Center Parcs (via Bitburg for a crate of Bitburger - Bitte ein bit!) and, reluctantly, unloading the car.
Regarding the Center Parcs part of the trip, best not say too much, suffice to say we went over to Nurburg to eat every night and spent the days away from it either karting at the 'Ring or at local amusement parks (Eiffelpark is good - rides & animals in a nice setting) counting the nights 'til we could head to the Gasthaus Weber for the Nurburgring part of the trip!!
Once that day came, we loaded up the poor E46 again for the massive 15 minute journey to Nurburg. Got the car unloaded, bike rack removed and stowed away, had a pint and then Bobby arrived in his 'new' E46 M3 (the Skyline has been mothballed after the last trip!). It seems he couldn't handle others being at the 'Ring without him so he jumped on a ferry at 6.00am Friday morning to meet me and the kids so he could do TF on Friday eve and most of the day Saturday before heading back for a 23.00pm ferry on Saturday night - I suppose this is fair enough as his better half was due to drop his first kid any day!!
So with cars unloaded, tyres, wheelnuts, oil etc, checked, we headed up to the track. Kids desperately excited for their first lap out. Crash helmets on, arguments over who gets the front seat and we're off! Time to learn yet another new car at the 'Ring!!
Obviously I had to take it a bit easier than usual with the kids in the car but the new M3 was fantastic, just as my last one was, and with a manual gearbox, was so much more enjoyable to drive than the E92. Also unlike the E92, I had no issues with oil temperatures which was nice.
What I have discovered during the trip is that the Ohlins Road & Track coilovers are fantastic on er, both road and track! On the way to and from the 'Ring on their softest setting, despite being heavily loaded, the car rode beautifully over both large and small bumps with no crashing or floating and managed to deal with everything that was thrown at it in one movement, no bouncing around or excessive lean, just comfort and confidence in all situations.
When on track, with them fully wound up, they were still great, body control was excellent and still any bumps and kerbs were dealt with without drama. I do still need to look into something to stop the front tyres rubbing on the inner arches in the karuassell and through some some of the compressions such as the the Foxhole. Either need to raise the car a little all round or maybe consider some stiffer anti-roll bars. Something I have noticed is that the drop links have not been replaced with adjustable items when the car has been dropped on the Ohlins. Any advice on this welcome!!
Kids and their first laps of the 'Ring? They loved it! Spent most of the time telling me not to let anyone past or to overtake anyone in front. My daughter also managed to continue to be a chatterbox asking random questions whilst we're going round corners at three-figure speeds, clearly not fazed by any of it. I do need to get them both some neck braces though as the helmets proved to be a bit heavy for them, something I realised when I saw some of the on-track photos with their heads at some seriously weird angles!!
In summary, another great trip to the best place in the world, three days on the Nordschleife, the weather was great and stayed dry throughout, we managed to get in as many laps as we wanted to, all of us and the cars came back in one piece (a first for one of Bobby's cars, I think) and there's another couple of (small) people hooked on the place. The kids also have a new favourite restaurant in the Pistenklause with fillet steak on a stone being the top choice from the menu! Not sure Sienna needed the stone though, her steak was eaten blue on each of our three visits there. Kai now wants to redecorate his bedroom with a Nurburgring wall and we bought various pieces of memorabilia from the Dottingher Hohe petrol station to start it off!!
Things learned this trip: 1/ The kids loved the 'Ring as much as they through they would.
2/ Manual gearboxes are better the auto/automated manual/double-clutch gearboxes (as if we didn't know already).
3/ That the E46 M3 is a great all round car and covers every base (again, as if we didn't know that already)..
4/ That Ohlins is quality gear.
5/ That my driving on track can induce sickness (Kai after a lap on Saturday afternoon - though I blame the weak neck and serious head wobbling).
6/ Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres are fantastic on track but also not compromised on the road, dealing with rain and standing water in a way the original Cups or Toyo R888's could only dream of.
7/ That Center Parcs Eiffel is not good.
8/ That Thule roof racks with Thule bike holders are good for 155mph on the autobahn (minus bikes, obviously).
9/ That an E46 M3 uses half the fuel of a supercharged E92 M3 over the course of a 'Ring trip!
10/ That I should remove the centre caps from my wheels before going on track as I've lost the front right on both trips this year!
Now we just can't wait for the next trip, no Center Parcs next time though!!