Driving a racetrack you know intimately in the dark is a very humbling experience. Even in an endurance race car, there’s barely enough lighting to cope with the kind of speeds typically encountered on a track.
Putting together a fast lap, then, requires more than vision. It’s as much about timing and a sense of location as it is about spotting a braking marker or looking beyond the apex to track out.
At first, it’s terrifying, even for a track you know well in daylight. Stick with it, and fear is replaced by a zen-like focus that simply isn’t attainable during daylight hours. Lapping at speed, in the dark, gives you much more of a sense of accomplishment than doing the same thing in the light.
We can’t even begin to fathom what it’s like to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the dark, at speed. In its simplest form, the track is some 12.9 miles long, but most series opt to use the 15.2 mile track that adds in sections of the Nürburgring Formula One circuit for the benefit of a larger pit lane.
Driving it competently requires memorizing dozens of corners, some blind, and numerous elevation changes. The lack of runoff area means that any crash at speed is likely to be bad, and the track’s narrow width makes overtaking that much more challenging.
We’ll admit to having a healthy respect for those who compete in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. This video, of driver Niclas Kentenich hustling the Dörr Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup around a dark Nürburgring Nordschleife, gives you a sense of how challenging it really is.
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