Motorsport has never been a safe sport, often putting safety as a lower priority than outright speed. The glory days of engineers being able to build a car to their heart’s content are unfortunately over, never again will we see the brutal power of Group B in rally or the +1000kw of the 1980s F1 cars in their qualifying trim. While safety has come an incredible way in racing cars, some of the tracks we race on can still be incredibly dangerous.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife or just Nürburgring for short, is one of the longest and most complicated racetracks in the world. Located in Germany, this behemoth of a track totals over 20 km long with more than 150 turns and is a sight to behold. From wide open straights, into hairpin corners and even banked sweeping sections like the carousel, there is a little of everything here mixed with a lot of terror. The sheer scale of the track allows for differing raises and crests, track conditions and even weather, it just goes adding to the track’s nickname, the green hell.
To date, during official races, there have been surprisingly few deaths there. This is partly due to the track only playing host to certain GT series which are skilled drivers in cars which are not insanely powerful, and partly due to the fantastic safety concerns of modern cars and the track itself. That is not to say there is no danger at all, the real danger of the Nürburgring is not the skilled race drivers, but the unskilled members of the public. Unlike virtually any other track in the world, the Nürburgring is a public toll road. Provided you pay your fee and have the appropriate gear, usually just a helmet, anybody can go for a blistering lap around this green hell.
The Nürburgring is open to the public for the vast majority of the year, only closing for special races or maintenance. On average, six members of the public die every year trying to recreate the driving they have seen from trained professionals, dwarfing the death toll of any other track. The Nürburgring is truly an experience to be had by any avid driver, but it is also to be treated with due respect.
Isle Of Man
Host to one of the most famous TT races in the world, the Isle of Man is a small country which gets turned into one of the most impressive motorcycle races on an annual basis. Over 60 km with more than 200 turns, this is a track to be taken seriously.
A lot of the track is an extremely narrow street circuit, making this race impossible for cars, but as a motorcycle track it doesn’t get much better. Described as a living thing, the TT course remains public roads for the majority of the year, making it different every time you go out. To date, the Isle of Man TT course has claimed over 255 lives and is still run as one of the most dangerous races in the world.