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It is arguably the definitive road-going track on the planet, and the most romantic one in the automotive realm. For a driver interested in cars and exploring what a vehicle can really do, few stretches of tarmac rival the grail known as the Nurburgring.

Located around the village of Nurburg, the Ring came to be in 1927, the result of a decision to build a dedicated race track to replace the racing carried out in public roads around the surrounding Eifel mountains. In late 1925, work began on the Ring, with a track layout – designed by Gustav Eichler’s Eichler Architekturburo – mimicking that of the Targa Florio.

Completed two years later, the original full Ring measured in at 28.26 km in length in its whole course (Gesamtstrecke) configuration, which was made up of the 22.81 km Nordschleife (Northern Loop) and the 7.74 km long Sudschleife (or Southern Loop), with 174 corners in its original form.

Opened to the public as a one-way tolled road in the evenings and on weekends, the Ring was used up to 1939 in its full form for race events – following this, the Nordschleife came to the forefront for Grand Prix duty (halting during the Second World War), with the shorter Southern Loop holding smaller-scaled racing events.

From the 1950s up to 1976, with the exception of 1959 and 1970, the Nurburgring which was dubbed by Sir Jackie Stewart as “The Green Hell” was host to the German Grand Prix on the F1 calendar, with some revisions to the track being seen in the 60s and early 70s – the latter saw the track being made straighter, reducing the number of corners.

The racing served more than just that, in the process building up the legend of the mystical Ring – Karussell, Bergwerk, Flugplatz and Kallenhard became names etched in memory; a corner wasn’t just a corner with this one. The records came, and some still stand. The late Stefan Bellof’s time of 6:11.13 around the Northern Loop in a Porsche 956 in 1983 is unlikely to be bested, simply because no serious racing event has taken place on it since then.

Safety concerns regarding the very long track had been creeping up over the years, and there was only that much revision work that could be carried out to meet that demanded by the F1 community and the FIA that didn’t break the bank or prove impossible to do.

Things finally caught up with the Ring in 1976, when the decision was made to end the track’s association with the German GP. Niki Lauda’s almost fatal crash in that year’s race merely added suitable reinforcement to that decision. Lauda remains the only driver to do the full 22.8 km Nordschleife in under seven minutes, clocking 6:58.6 in 1975.

In 1980, the track saw its last major GP event, the German motorcycle GP, and in 1981 the Nordschleife was shortened to 20.83 km, and the length has remained virtually unchanged to this day – its present length is 20.81 km, though of course the years have also seen the introduction of more safety aspects into the 154 corner track.

It was also in 1981 that work started on the 4.5 km long new circuit (currently 5.2 km long), home to the modern incarnation of the Nurburgring. Completed in 1984, the track has seen action as a venue for the European GP (and in 1985, the German GP). With the Nordschleife, the combined circuit track length totals 25.94 km.

A BMW engineer once said during a conversation that a lap around the Ring will tell you more about a car, both dynamically and characteristically, than hundreds of kms on a normal road. Such stuff is surely what legends are made of, and none has more than the Ring!