Trip Report: Germany

Got back from Germany on the 29th of April. Didn’t get a lot of time to ease back into work: went into 15 hour day mode immediately and stayed there until this week. It’ll be worth it. Meanwhile, I thought people who enjoy cars and technology might enjoy this trip report.

I spent my first few days in Munich being a tourist: doing a beer-making tour, visiting standard tourist sites, and so forth. I also got to tour the BMW factory in Europe, which was amazing. I was especially impressed by the paint shop, where there was a continuously moving waterfall under the line and the glass walls between us and the robots had no paint on them.

Picking up my car the next day at the BMW Welt was an experience: a bit over the top but also very cool. The architecture is amazing inside and out:

Had a good time driving my new car around Europe. First to Füssen, then Strasbourg.

Overall I did about 1200 km, most of it on the Autobahn at 100 mph+. Maximum speed I hit: 240 km/h (150 mph). But BMWs are kinda famous for exaggerating speeds, so don’t take that as gospel. Trust me when I say it felt pretty darn fast. Funnily enough, 100mph doesn’t feel fast at all on the Autobahn – in fact it felt a lot like going 65 mph here in California. Can’t say enough good things about the German road infrastructure – they do a marvelous job of keeping it in shape.

The highlight of the trip was the day I spent in Nürburg, Germany, home of the Nordschleife, one of the world’s longest and most difficult road courses. Stayed at a place called the RingHaus, which is a lot of fun – many visitors from England, and one group who had driven in from St. Petersburg.

I started the day by doing a lap around the ring in my own car. I was quite nervous about doing this as I’d never driven the course before and worried what would happen if I had an uninsured accident. But my one slow lap (13 minutes, anything less than 11 minutes is respectable) was without incident. Shortly thereafter a proud owner of a new Porsche was not so lucky: like me, he patoodled around the track at low speed, only to get rammed from behind by a motorcycle going to fast around a blind corner. The motorcyclist was seriously injured, unfortunately.

I then did a lap as a passenger in a race-prepped Alfa 75 sedan that had been rented by the English folks I met at the RingHaus – the interior had been stripped and a full roll cage, racing seats, and racing belts were installed. This car wasn’t as powerful as mine but it was far, far lighter. It went around that track pretty quickly. Unfortunately, my ride was a fairly short one – 6 km or so into the lap we spun out and hit the curb, bending the car’s front suspension and steering rack. Fortunately we didn’t get run over by anyone and we didn’t hit the wall, so we just put limped the car the rest of the way around the track. That spin was a little more excitement than I’d planned on – when we got off the track my shirt was soaked through with sweat and my heart was pounding.

As it happens, though, my day wasn’t over yet. A half hour later I got a call from the folks at the BMW Ring Taxi service – they had an open slot available in one of their two BMW M5s. These are extremely capable cars driven by professionals who know the Ring like the back of their hands. We went really, really fast – much faster than the Alfa 75 even though we had four people in the car AND the air conditioning was on. In fact we hit 240 km/h at one point (it feels even faster when you do it on a curvy racecourse!).  I was sitting in the right rear passenger seat, and got thrown around quite a bit as we carved through the turns – no fancy racing buckets here. I turned quit green, and a half hour later I threw up. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

From there I drove the car to Frankfurt, spent a day there, then dropped the car off and came home, just in time for my 9th wedding anniversary on the 1st of May. A great trip.

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 21May08.

2 Responses to “Trip Report: Germany”

  1. did you buy or hire this BMW? If you bought it, how did you get it back home (you live in the US, right)?

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in my home country. Isn’t the Eifel (region around Nuernbug) marvelous?

  2. I leased the car via BMW’s European Delivery program (http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/Experience/Events/EuropeanDelivery/Default.aspx). Its a great program – the car savings more than paid for the trip. When your vacation is over you drop it off and they put the car on the same cargo ship they use for regular BMW shipments.

    Unfortunately, I do not yet have the car in my possession back here in the US. The car arrived in port a few days back, but now it has to clear customs and get delivered to my dealer here. Hopefully next week or the week after!

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