There are many reasons I love the Nürburgring, I will attempt to list the Top 10 of them in this post. I highly recommend marshaling at the Nürburgring to anyone in the position to do so, just keep in mind that your experience may be very different from mine. But at the very least I hope the knowledge of what is possible would encourage you to give it a Go!
#10 There’s a castle in the middle of the circuit!
Oh yes, there’s a medieval castle perched atop one of the Eifel peaks in the village of Nürburg that the the rest of the circuit is named after. The coolest thing about this landmark is that I could clearly see it from my post while marshaling. It’s an amazing sight. It looks pretty impressive in the day time. You lose sight of it in the fog or clouds when the rains roll in. And it looks majestic all lit up at night on the graveyard shift during the 24 hour race. I love it! Other tracks have their magnificent landmarks like the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore or the Queen Mary 2 at Long Beach, but nothing really comes close to the castle of Nürburg.
#9 There’s like a million cars racing at the same time, maybe more!
Yep! There’s an insane amount of cars that take to the track during the 24h of N-ring weekend. And I’m not just talking about the 159 car field that took to the track for the 24h race. There’s also a huge field of cars for the 24h Classic support race. A huge field of identical Porsche Carrera Cup GT3 cars for the single make race representing Germany… so far I’ve worked Carrera Cups in US, Canada, France, Asia, Australia and the Porsche Supercup in UK and US that follow F1 series. The German field was impressive and raced much cleaner than their international colleagues it seemed. Besides the competitive series taking to the track we also saw a Formula Truck go by us at speed as a demo, with it’s impressive water shooting in a mist around the front wheels. There were Bugatti’s doing demo laps, and tons of amateur drivers doing a lap in their BMW’s, Mercedes-Benz, Nissans, Toyotas and others. I was hoping to see Mazda MX-5’s but they never came. Of course driving around Adenau and Breidcheid there were a ton of cars and bikes that spectators brought to show off in front of all the attendees of the race weekend. The car culture is alive and well in Deutschland!
#8 The drivers respect the flags, religiously.
Having experienced plenty of incidents of drivers not respecting my flags it took me by great surprise how well the drivers reacted to whatever flag I displayed during the 24h weekend. Even though the 24h of Nürburgring does not utilize safety cars, every incident is handled under a local yellow using Intervention/Medial/Extrication Cars and the famous Jeep tow vehicles. We still managed to perform a debris run with my colleague Pol. A little Renault Clio Cup car lost it’s rear diffuser just past our post and Pol went up to get it while I waved double yellow flags to “cover” his presence on the track. Boy did the drivers drop their anchors to slow down to crawling speed once the double yellows were out. The post before ours had a Code 60 flag held stationary and a Yellow waved to back us up, and every car that came up on the incident slowed down immediately. I was impressed and very happy to see this happen.
#7 It is the Nürburgring! It’s the incredible Nordschleife!!!
I don’t think there’s a more famous circuit in the world. Sure, 24 hours of Le Mans may be the most famous endurance race in the world and Daytona 24 hours may be famous on this side of the Atlantic, neither Circuit de la Sarthe nor the inner track of Daytona International Speedway can hold a candle to the Nordschleife. It’s in a league of it’s own. So whatever one thinks of the Nordschleife, or Nürburgring… rest assured that you are participating in an event on a historic and iconic track with a reputation that doesn’t require an introduction or an explanation of why it’s famous. It’s simply legendary!
#6 International Marshals.
International marshal participation isn’t unique to the Nürburgring, many circuits allow foreign marshals to participate at their events. Nürburgring event organizers, ADAC and other clubs that staff such major events like the 24h of Nürburgring are especially welcoming to visiting international marshals and I can’t say enough how much that is appreciated. Their application is simple and straightforward. Doesn’t require the international marshals to jump through hoops to receive the opportunity to marshal there. Of course you are privileged to participate but they don’t rub it in your face like some circuits do. I love them for this. I learned this year that my cheerleading efforts on facebook resulted in 7 Canadian marshals registering for the event and all requesting to work my post. Of course none of them contacted me about this opportunity so I had no idea until my post chief told me. And it made me feel pretty proud that someone would take my advice to heart. Ironically they were scattered around to work with other teams around the track and I didn’t get a chance to meet any of them, but I do hope they had a good time working the Nürburgring.
#5 Paddock Access and the Tour of the Garages.
This is perhaps my favorite feature of the event. Buses are provided from Adenau to the Nürburgring Grand Prix Circuit where another shuttle takes you to the Nürburgring Paddock and general offices area. It resembles an exhibition center with multiple stores and attractions. A full size Audi R8 Playstation simulator is available for kids to climb in and race with big screen TV’s for windows. There’s a ton of great German food and beer on offer. Lots of souvenir shops. And of course full access to the Garages for the marshals. Pol and I wandered around for more than an hour checking out up close and personal the Audi R8 teams. The Lexus and Mercedes-Benz teams. The Bentley teams, etc. It is simply amazing. I took a ton of pictures and Pol took a ton of pictures of me taking pictures. At one point we climbed to the roof of the garages to watch the Top 30 shootout of all the fastest GT3 cars qualify for the race. One at a time the cars were released and peeled out onto the 20km lap. It was sweet!
#4 Proximity to supermarkets, cafes, and other attractions (creature comforts).
We are incredibly lucky at Posten 120! The station overlooks a turn that races over a bridge. The bridge acts as a border between the village of Adenau and Breidcheid Ex Muhle. The outskirts of Adenau is where the village shopping centers are, and they are all within a very short walking distance to where our post is. There’s a local supermarket REWE. There’s a Lidl across the street, and there’s an Aldi, the same German supermarket that we now have in the US. Besides the supermarkets we are camped directly next to Cafe zum Nordschleife whose parking lot we use for all the campers. (I like to use their bathrooms because they are so much more convenient than the portapods we get). There’s an ice cream shop directly across the street from Cafe Nordschleife. Next to it is the Cockpit Cafe. Across the street and on the other side of the bridge, about half way to the supermarkets is Giulia’s Restaurant where Pol and I go to for some amazingly delicious schnitzels, Warsteiner beer and of course FREE WiFi! It’s such a convenient place to work especially after an experience at Le Mans where there was nothing around the village where our post was situated… at least not without driving, which most people weren’t too keen on, or at least didn’t do too frequently. Being walking distance to everything is fantastic!
#3 The beer. German beer!
Yep. Beer was good. Last year we frequented Giulia’s cafe so often (every evening) that she gave me a Warsteiner stein (glass) to take home as a souvenir. This year our German hosts had beer on tap, and it went really well with the Pig during Friday’s dinner. Pol also brought some Belgian Kriek beer which I really love. And one of the German colleagues let us try beer from his local region called Karlsberg not to be confused with the famous Danish beer: Carlsberg. I’m pretty confident anyone that likes beer would find anything to complain about volunteering in Germany. I hardly drink but I really enjoyed a few cold ones in a nice social atmosphere.
#2 The food. German food!
I have already mentioned the schnitzels at Giulia’s, this year our German hosts surprised us with a Pig on a Spit. Yeah! A full-size pig on a rotisserie that spread delicious smells as it cooked for at least 8 hours maybe more. One thing we did differently this year compared to last year was pay our hosts a set fee to provide meals for every day of the event. Which meant there were less schnitzels from Giulia’s like last year, but more sausages and sandwiches and of course the big pig feast for our Friday’s dinner right in the marshal tent. The pig was delicious. There were potatoes to go with it, and a variety of Curry sauces that I made sure to stock up on to bring home. I’ve searched all over US supermarkets and couldn’t find curry ketchup. Now I’ve got plenty of it to last me until the next trip.
#1 The people. German people. Belgian people!
I’m not usually one to say I volunteer in this hobby for the people. Generally, I volunteer to quench my thirst for the machinery, for the cars, for the racing atmosphere that exists at an F1 or a 24h event. But in Germany I really feel like I am wanted there, I am part of a team and other people genuinely want to see me return. Others have always claimed that there’s a camaraderie, it was always the big theme for Singapore GP, but with every year I felt that I was treated more and more like an outsider, just another Ang Moh that comes to Singapore to compete with the locals for the volunteering positions available. There were a ton of events in the US where I felt I was not wanted there at all. The animosity, and hostile treatment was apparent and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling that I’d want to experience again. But at Nürburgring I feel wanted. I feel welcome. And I cannot wait to go back to work with my German friends. With my Belgian team that has adopted me as one of their own. I am forever thankful to them for the opportunity and the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when working together with them. It’s a feeling that I’m sure other volunteers cherish and I wish it was more evident at other events I volunteer also.
So I hope my 2 cents worth of opinions encourage other people to volunteer events, wherever the people reading this live or wherever they wish to travel to to be a part of the action.
I personally cannot wait to return to Nürburgring for 24h next year!