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My Best Road Trip: Driving the Nurburgring was such a rush

Exploring the race tracks of the Nürburgring in my Honda Integra Type R was the ultimate driving experience.

Source: Google Maps

  • Each week, TheJournal.ie/DoneDeal motoring mag will feature a reader’s best road trip. If you’d love to see your top trip featured, email us on bestroadtrip@thejournal.ie

MY BEST ROAD trip was the ultimate driving experience; lapping the Nurburgring.

Who: Jamie O’Donoghue and  Eilise O’Donoghue, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Route: Nurburgring race track in Germany

Distance: 3,100km

Time:6 days

When: August, 2015

Vehicle: Japanese Import Honda Integra Type R DC5

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

As a car enthusiast and self-confessed petrol head, the best and holy grail of road trips for me is the trip I made with my partner Eilise to the historic and world renowned Nurburgring race track in Germany.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

This historic race circuit is unique for many reasons, not just its history. The Nürburgring Nordschleife (north loop) is 20.8km long; the legendary formula one driver Jackie Stewart nicknamed the old track “The Green Hell”. The Nurburgring is open to the public, and quite literally, anyone can drive any vehicle, at any speed once on it. Not only that, one must also consider motorcyclists as well as cars, vans and even buses which add a further dynamic to the experience.

I decided that if I was going to do this once in a lifetime trip, it was going to be done my way in a car that truly adore.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

The car I settled on was a Japanese import Honda Integra Type R. These cars are somewhat track focused from the factory with a powerful engine, Recaro bucket seats, big brakes, stiff suspension and respectable 0-60mph time of approx 6 seconds.

Our trip began in Killarney, an early morning drive along the south coast to Rosslare to catch the ferry to Pembroke (Wales). Once docked in Wales it was a fast trip down through southern England to Folkstone to take the Euro-Tunnel Train to Calais in France where we spent our first night.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

The next day we woke early and, once accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the road in France, we made our way to the beautiful and picturesque village of Bruges in Belgium. Everyone at some point should visit Bruges, decorated in beautiful old architecture and cobblestones. Our time was limited so we decided a horse drawn carriage tour would ideal. Escorted around by a colourful duo of Arnold the horse and Ringo the driver, they provided us with a wonderful insight to the village. A quick pit stop at one of the many chocolatiers and we set off on the road again to make our way to Nurburg in Germany.

Once in Nurburg, we meandered our way through the green hills and countryside to a wonderful traditional guest house approximately 10-minute drive from the track. We explored our surroundings and prepared ourselves for the thrill of a lifetime that we would be embracing the following day.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

The next morning, having arisen early we made our way to the Nurburgring office to purchase a swipe card that would allow us to enter the track and drive on it. You don’t need to book laps at the Ring; just turn up, buy a card, load it with laps (per vehicle not per person), and get onto the track during a Touristfahrten session. A single lap costs €29.

Armed with our GO-PRO dash camera and a full tank of petrol, we rolled up to the barrier, swiped our card and entered the track. Foot to the floor, heart racing and adrenaline pumping we began our first lap. Being in the company of half a million euro supercars, such as Ferraris, Aston Martins and Porches did little to settle our nerves. The X-Box version did not prepare us for the reality; the speed, thrill and exhilaration had gone far beyond our expectations! At one point I had to say to myself “I am actually doing this”, I didn’t want it to end.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

We enjoyed a few more laps before heading back to Nurburg for a much-needed rest and recovery. That evening we ate at a wonderful restaurant close to the track full of memorabilia and people swapping stories of the day’s great track time.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

The next few days consisted of heading for home with a quick stop at Spa, Belgium to view the Grand Prix and to experience the glorious F1 race cars in all their splendour. We proceeded on to Brussels where we spent a day and night exploring the city before making our way back to Ireland through France and England. One year on my partner and I still talk about this great road trip! We are planning to return again next year but taking a different route. The experience of having a car in Europe was extremely liberating, the little village and landmarks we were able to visit along the way made the trip that extra bit special.

Source: Jamie O'Donoghue

One year on my partner and I still talk about this great road trip! We are planning to return again next year but taking a different route. The experience of having a car in Europe was extremely liberating, the little village and landmarks we were able to visit along the way made the trip that extra bit special.

READ: Reader’s road trip – Pacific Highway

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