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    German Adventures

    Larry (Over the Hill) and I planned a trip to Europe, primarily focused on automobiles, after we were able to secure a ride in the famed BMW Ring Taxi on the world famous Nürburgring race track (aka "the Ring"). From Sea-Tac we flew to Frankfurt and then drove a rental car (Toyota Verso D-Cat Diesel) to the little village of Nürburg, which is definitely car nirvana. The village is located next to main entrance of the racetrack; we checked into small hotel just a stone's throw from the track. While scoping out the village we noticed quite a few cars parked along the streets with numbers on the windows and a sticker on their windshields. It turned out there was a four day track school in progress with about 360 cars participating with the stickers identifying the participants.















    997 GT3 Cup car


    A frequent sight around the Nurburgring


    997 GT3 RS


    More here: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/nurburgring-gruneholle

    The town of Nürburg takes its' name from a castle on top of the hill overlooking the village. The castle itself has been reduced to ruins, but the tower was still intact. I managed to squeeze myself to the top thru a tiny passageway. The views up there were unbelievable. I could see why they call the racetrack, the Grüne Hölle meaning Green Hell. The entire landscape was green with all kinds of roads snaking their way throughout the hills of the area.

    Burg Nurburg


    Grune Holle


    On the morning of our second day dawned overcast and slightly misty so we decided to visit Burg Eltz, one of travel guru Rick Steves' favorite castles. This is indeed a very picturesque castle I loved this place mainly because of the way it was built and situated. A huge castle perched atop a high rocky knoll virtually surrounded by a river nestled within the confines of a huge valley. The castle has a great history associated with it and has been in the Eltz family for hundreds of years. After an interesting tour of the castle the weather cleared so we returned to the "Ring" to take pictures of the cars participating in the driving school.

    Burg Eltz


    We found a couple of vantage points from which we get good views of the track. From one spot we were able to watch cars negotiating a series of corners called the Ex-Mühle (loosely translates to "the Coffee Grinder"). I got a lot of pictures of the cars interpreting the lines of the corners in many different ways. Interestingly there was an ambulance stationed at this corner. After a BMW 3 series nearly hit the wall it became apparent why. Besides being a very challenging race track, the "Ring" is also a tourist mecca with thousands standing at various spots to get a view of the cars careening through the corners with tires squealing. When the course closed later to clear an accident we went to the paddock area at the main track entrance to view the driving school cars close up. I was able to get pictures of all sorts of exotic machines. Cars like a C type Jaguar, a Noble, a Viper, a Carrera GT, all sorts of other Porsches (lots of GT3's), BMWs, Mercedes, Ferrari's, Ultima's, Corvettes, Opels, Lotus' etc., and even a Gulf blue Ford GT.



    997 GT3


    Audi R8


    MINI Cooper GP


    997 GT3 RS


    Ford GT


    More here: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/nurburgring-exmuhle

    The next day after some more car ogling, we found another vantage point to take pictures. It was called the Pflanzgarten (the locals say it translates to "the Jump Garden") aptly named as there are two gut wrenching drops before entering a blind corner. I got a number of pictures here, but Larry witnessed a shot I missed a chance to capture. (I did see the car coming down but not in time to bring my camera back up) A BMW 635 CSi came into the jumps way to fast and got airborne. The driver had that "Oh my GAWD!" look on his face as he dynamited the brakes. When he hit the ground, it was like a 747 had hit the numbers on the end of runway 26L landing with huge cloud of rubber smoke. The huge crowd of spectators let out a loud roar of approval. (Talk about flat spotting your tires.)





    M5 Ring Taxi




    Jaguar D-type


    More here: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/nurburgring-pflanzgarten

    Then it was back to the paddock area for our turn in the M5 Ring Taxi. I had hoped we'd get the famous Sabine Schwartz as our driver, but it was her day off. Instead we got a young guy by the name of Phillip. We let it be known that we were very disappointed in not being able to have Sabine as our driver. Phillip promised us he'd try and make up for it, and what a ride we got! I sat up front with Larry directly behind me. I braced myself by holding on to the arm rest and Larry used his legs to brace himself. After the first of several hair raising moments I let out a small yelp and Philip, a bit concerned looked at me and then Larry, and asked, "Is he OK?" Larry laughed and said, "Oh he's fine, he's just having fun!" Philip just nailed it and went even faster after hearing that. It was amazing how he managed to make the M5 literally dance around the corners tires squealing and flying down the straight-aways at ever increasing velocities. Larry had a view of the steam gauge and said he saw 245 KPH at one point. Philip barely used the brakes! My grin was wider than the Cheshire cat's after the ride! I was no longer a 'Ring Virgin"! Next time I want to drive myself on this track after a few driving lessons of course!

    Jason, Larry and Philip


    Grand Prix-Strecke


    Casuality of the 'ring


    Stadium overlooking the Grand Prix-Strecke


    Ultima GTR


    More here:

    http://jasontang.virtuality.org/nurburgring-grandprixstrecke

    http://jasontang.virtuality.org/nurburgring-offthetrack

    From there we drove to Stuttgart giggling like a couple 10 year old school girls at an all night pajama party. Stuttgart isn't much of a tourist destination, just a dreary German industrial town. Our purpose was to visit both Porsche and Mercedes Benz museums and tour their factories. When we visited the Porsche factory Larry had hoped to see his turbo being built (it was scheduled to be built during the time we were there). The factory tour guide explained that Porsche had previously allowed customers to view the assembly of their cars, however after a prospective owner went "Postal" when he saw an assembly worker take a hammer to his car they discontinued the practice. Larry was fairly certain he saw his car in the delivery parking lot. A new Porsche museum is being built so they only had a small display of their most significant cars next to their tour center.

    Porsche Factory


    Porsche Museum under construction


    Porsche Factory entrance


    Newly completed 997 GT3 RS in Kermit Green


    Rothmans 917


    MobilOne 997 GT3 Cup car


    Porsche Carrera GT and 959 prototype


    Special order Carrera GT outside Zuffenhausen Porsche dealership


    Porsches parked outside waiting to be shipped


    More pictures:

    http://jasontang.virtuality.org/porschefactoryarea

    http://jasontang.virtuality.org/porschedealership

    http://jasontang.virtuality.org/porschezentrum

    The Mercedes museum, however, is huge with some 32,000 square meters of floor space (8 floors) and very spectacular. The museum traces the history of Mercedes from their first internal combustion engine on up to today's luxury cars, including their racing car history. The factory tour was very lame as we only got to see them building the 4 cylinder diesel engines for the A and B cars. What's more the tour guide couldn't have explained the difference between a wash machine and lawn mower. (Totally clueless.)











    More pictures: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/mbzentrum

    On a tip, we went to the Auto und Tecknic Museum in Sinsheim about an hours drive northwest from Stuttgart. If you are ever there, this is not to be missed. It has the original Concorde SST, a Russian "Tupolev" TU-144 SST, and a number of other aircraft on display. There is a large collection of German (some U.S and British) war armaments (tanks, cannons, etc.) A number a railroad engines, electric generators, a bunch of American cars like Lincoln, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Ford, all sorts of motorcycles and other flotsam and jetsam. But, the real piece de resistance is the largest collection of Formula 1 cars in Europe plus an outstanding collection of Maybach, Mercedes, Horch automobiles, including a couple of Hitler's Mercedes Benz's complete with sales orders for documentation. There are also a large number of other exotic and rare cars on display. Larry and I spent the better part of the day here. There is another part of this museum in Speyer about 7 miles down the road, but we didn't have the time or the energy to see it. It features a submarine and a 747, and more jet planes, helicopters, and cars.

    Auto Technik Museum


    Classic 911


    Army toys


    Classic Mercedes Benz cars


    From Stuttgart we drove to Munich via Rothenburg (I think of all the places I've been to in Germany this is my favorite), and Dachau, where we visited the World War II concentration camp memorial. That was probably the most sobering place I've ever been to. I had Goosebumps during the duration of my visit. Thousands died here in the 12 year span of this camp from 1933 until 1945. There were a number of sculptures and memorial stones with inscriptions erected just outside the main reception hall remembering the victims. One in particular that struck a chord in me bore the words, "Never Again" in 5 different languages.

    Rothenburg from above


    Larry and the "Never Again" memorial site


    Munich is a modern city in stark contrast to the old world charm of Rothenburg. It was here on a beautiful morning at about 5:00 am, I was taken for a ride by Adam a friend I met on the Internet. Adam has a RUF modified turbo Porsche, the Rturbo.

    Red speedster!


    Pictures: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/adamrufrturbo

    After getting some gas and adding some increased pressure to the Michelin Sport Cup tires we set off for a high speed run, we were off to the "Autobahn" on A99 which loops around the city then onto the A8, which is a long straightway leading away from the city. According to Adam, BMW uses this straightway for high-speed tests for their "M" cars. Adam let the leash out on his Rturbo and we were soon "cruising" at 213 mph. We were bouncing off the redline with speeds going back and forth between 212-213 mph.

    Life begins at 212 mph!


    Video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=bPgpHwbwTLo

    It's eerie to see how fast the landscape goes by at those speeds. The telephone poles look almost like a picket fence! It was kind of like being in a video game moving at fast forward.

    Later we headed down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we rode the Gondola up to the top of Zugspitze peak, highest point in Germany at 2,964 meters. First time I had to throw on warm clothes up there not to mention having to contend with a mild case of altitude-induced wooziness. We took the Gondola up (Larry had to contend with a bout of acrophobia on the ride up and briefly back down as we headed down to the railway station situated within the ski area chalet) and rode the underground train back down. 25 minutes going downhill inside the mountain before coming out. We then drove to Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle just outside of Fussen. Neuschwanstein castle served as the inspiration for the castles at Disneyland and Disneyworld.

    Top of Germany


    It's a long way down


    Neuschwanstein Castle


    Our next automotive treat was in the industrial town of Inglostadt, home of Audi. Both Larry and I thought the Audi facility was the best. It is modern, artistically as well as technically designed. I also highly recommend anyone coming to Germany to make a visit here no matter what your car preference may be. The museum though smaller than the Mercedes museum, was much more interesting as it was focused entirely on cars. One exhibit in particular caught our eye; a huge rotating series of platforms with
    specialized Audi machines built over the years. It takes about half hour for the entire series of cars to rotate in a loop. I found a spot to take pictures of them all. We also took the factory tour, which showed a stark contrast between the way Audi and Porsche make their cars.

    Audi Museum


    Audi R10 V12 TDI


    Heart of the beast!


    Revolving platform


    Porsche only uses robots extensively in building the bodies of their cars. Only one robot was used in the final assembly area and that was for the installation of the front and rear window glass, because with laser measurements it assures a precise fit that humans can't achieve. The Porsche assembly line moves very slowly giving the worker a relaxing environment, which engenders a high level of quality. Indeed, each worker is his own quality control inspector. Porsche builds 160 cars per day with about 4800 workers in 2 shifts. We were told there are more than 1,600,000 combinations of parts, making the possibility of any two cars being exactly alike very remote. This fact makes the use of robots problematic in the final assembly area due to the software issues required to address all the assembly possibilities. Audi on the other hand has a line rife with robotics moving at a speed maybe 5 times as fast as Porsche. There were quality control inspectors everywhere. The plant we toured employs about 30,000 workers in 2 shifts and builds 2,200 A3 and A4 cars per day. The Audi tour was especially fun, because we got to see sparks fly from the welders, robots doing their mating dances, stamping mills punching out parts, workers installing seats, steering wheels, instrument panels, air bags, etc., a high pressure wash down to test for leaks, and finally the drive out the door. A few facts about the Audi facility; in the body section alone there were machines that press sheet steel into specific forms with a pressure of up to 7,300 tons, and well over 1,000 industrial robots that place about 6,500 spot welds per car - and this is exactly to the tenth of a millimeter.

    On our way back to Frankfurt we visited a couple of Porsche tuner shops, Techart in Leonberg and RUF in Pfaffenhausen. Both were high class operations and provided real insight into how much effort goes into improving upon what Porsche builds. At Techart, they were working on a customer's car using a "hammer" to smooth out a few welding spots. Larry and I both flinched at every banging sound that the technician made as the hammer came into contact with the car.

    Techart custom leather seats


    Cayenne Magnum


    997 C2S in Techart form


    More pictures here: http://jasontang.virtuality.org/techart

    During our tour of RUF, we could see that they have extensive capabilities when it comes to manufacturing their own cars such as the new RT12. We also had a chance to view the legendary "Yellowbird" up close too.

    RUF Auto Centre in Pfaffenhausen


    Alois Ruf's childhood home behind the RUF auto centre


    RUF RSpyder


    Interior shot


    Silver matte painted RT12


    The legendary Yellowbird


    We finished our trip with a walk around downtown Frankfurt and then boarded the plane for our return home and some much needed rest.

    Re: German Adventures

    Awesome pics Jason. Congrats on the re-adventure

    Re: German Adventures

    Wow Jason, nice read! Thanks for the writeup.It's good to hear both of you enjoyed the tour.
    -Joost-

    Re: German Adventures

    that was a very good read, jason, I too just return from Germany with my brother and 2 other friends visiting Porsche Leipzig for 5 days full of tracking hours in GT3, TT and Targa. We also travel to stuttgart to visit the Porsche Land. I have to agree driving for 4 days on Autobahn at speed over 250km/h at evert possible chance we get is a very unique experience.... we would love to go see the Ring next time. Great story, jason, thank you.

    Re: German Adventures

    Glad you guys are enjoying the write-up. I just wanted to point out that I misspelled Sabine Schmidt's name and it should be Ingolstadt not Inglostadt. I can't correct it..

    Re: German Adventures

    Great adventure!!

    congrats and thanks for pictures and report!

    Re: German Adventures

    Great pics & great trip Thanks for posting

    Re: German Adventures

    Fantastic report ! Thanks Atomic

    I will attend that driving school on the ring in september. Did it last year and it is exellent and fun !

    Re: German Adventures

    Thanks for posting Atomic, really enjoyed it!

    Re: German Adventures

    Great report and superb pics, Jason - thanks for sharing
    Sounds like the perfect holiday for a carnut

    Re: German Adventures

    Enjoyed reading that. Thanks

    Re: German Adventures

    Shame on you, you didn't drop me a mail. I live only 30 minutes away from RUF.

    Nice "adventure" and wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing.

    Re: German Adventures

    Excellent report, thank you very much !

    Re: German Adventures

    Thanks so much for the great report and wonderful photos! I really enjoyed reading it - felt like I was there! You obviously had an amazing trip!

    Re: German Adventures

    Thanks for your write up. Glad that you enjoyed the trip and respect for the wise decision that you also visited Dachau.

    I've to disagree only in one point: " Stuttgart isn't ..just a dreary German industrial town". I suppose you've been not in the center (pic belwo), cause the factories are more peripheral. Anyway, If you like, send me a PM, when you are in my area again and you won't miss out them.


    Re: German Adventures

    I knew that the Swabians would comment on the description of their capital

    Re: German Adventures

    What a great trip -- thanks for the awesome report!

    Re: German Adventures

    Jesse,

    I really meant no disrespect about Stuttgart when I said that. I actually enjoyed my time there both times I was there (last May and again last summer). It was actually Larry that said the line, "dreary German town."

    RC, I think I did write something about meeting up with a few guys from Rennteam in another thread but sadly though, I never followed up on that! Next time I go back, I'll definitely do that. I want to make it a point to try visiting Germany in the fall or even winter next time.

    Re: German Adventures

    Niiiice A80! Thanks for the ten minute "in-office vacation."

    Enthralled by looking at your pics and captions I think my phone was ringing a few times but I'm not sure.


    Re: German Adventures

    thanks jason..great report and as usual photographs...nice to have seen all these great places at least in spirit...spent a brief time in munich this summer coming back from some other fun...in just flying over germany / landing and taking off id have to say its one of the most senic countries ive ever seen..only a car nut would notice the high quality of the limited roads i was able to see...the numerous small and interesting looking villages made we want to return for some driving exploration...rennteamers living here have much to be proud of ..imo

    Re: German Adventures

    Stan,

    Ironic that you should say that because it was those small towns that I enjoyed the most. More than the larger cities in fact. They have so much charm to them. I enjoyed Rothenburg the most and would definitely try to make it a point to stay there for a longer period of time next time I go out there.

    Re: German Adventures

    Just amazing! Thanks alot for the wonderful pictures and the great report to go along with them! Looks like fun

    Re: German Adventures

    Quote:
    Porsche-Jeck said:
    I knew that the Swabians would comment on the description of their capital



    Please...Stuttgart is NOT the capital of the Schwaben (Swabians), it is Augsburg.

    Re: German Adventures

    What no BMW tour/museum pics?

    Re: German Adventures

    Quote:
    stubenhocker said:
    What no BMW tour/museum pics?



    Well, this is a Porsche board so I edited the BMW portion out at Larry's suggestion.

    Here's the other write-up with the BMW portion included

    http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=1094045

    Re: German Adventures

    Great report, thanks very much for letting us see it.

    Re: German Adventures

    Thank you Jason! Augsburg has killer Pils .... K

    Re: German Adventures

    Superb report Jason! I'm ashamed I haven't even seen half of what you saw in Germany and I live next door!

    thanks for the write up!

    Re: German Adventures

    Quote:
    atomic80 said:
    Jesse,

    I really meant no disrespect about Stuttgart when I said that.


    You're welcome! I never considered your statement as disrepectful.


     
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