Featured: Spirits Still Race the Nürburgring's Forgotten South Loop

Spirits Still Race the Nürburgring’s Forgotten South Loop

By Christer Lundem
May 1, 2013
9 comments

Over the course of thirteen years I have visited and driven on the infamous Nordschleife at the heart of Germany. Driving on the old northern loop provides an automotive experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Danger lurks behind every turn, making the experience both exciting and addictive. Since Rudolf Caracciola won the first race here on the June 19, 1927, the track has refused to indulge in FIA requirements, which has preserved the track’s soul. Even in the turmoil with greedy owners and unrealistic building projects in recent years, Nürburgring as a brand has grown stronger and therefore secured its existence. During the years I’ve been here I have heard the legend about a forgotten part of the course: the Südschleife.

The Südschleife was once 7.5 kilometres long, but there are now only a few parts of the track that are preserved. It was built at the same time as the Nordschleife, but today is forgotten by most. This track was once even more dangerous than the Nordschleife, because trees surrounded it, and drivers claimed that they saw ghosts who crossed path when they were driving. During 1970 and 1971, the Nordschleife was upgraded, the south loop was more and more forgotten.  The death knell came when today’s Grand Prix track was built in the early eighties, so the majority of Südschleife was destroyed and all but forgotten about.

In the fall of 2012, I had a few hours to kill and brought my camera on an expedition to explore Südschleife. I found a magical serene place where dark trees around the track whispered of untold stories. The silence was the same as if a race had ended only a few hours ago. I saw no ghosts, but the feeling of someone lurking out there, watching me from the dark was enough to make me feel as if I had. I really hope that the Germans see the value of this forgotten piece of tarmac. No one specifically needs that place, so it should be left to rest in a dignified manner.

If you want to set out on your own and meet the spirits of the past, the south loop is not difficult to find. Drive in the direction to Barweiler past the old pits and new buildings. With the Grand Prix track on your right hand side, turn to Scharferkopf on the left. The south loop is near the area where the Grand Prix track crosses the road. You may end up feeling privileged to have had the experience.

Respect the legends. Rest in peace, Südschleife.

Photography by Christer Lundem

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9 Comments on "Spirits Still Race the Nürburgring’s Forgotten South Loop"

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Per Eldh
Per Eldh

It’s actually a few good hundred meters left of it, plus the kilometres that is today public road – and dare I say very fun to drive!
To anyone interested, google südschleife map & compare it to today’s map. Easy find!

Simon Justin McCarthy
Simon Justin McCarthy

A number of years ago i bought an original 1958 nurburgring race poster thinking it was from the north ring. As it turns out its actually from a race held on the south ring. Originally i was disappointed but got over it quickly when i realized that it is probably rarer and is from a often forgotten past

FofS216
FofS216

Brilliant article and great to see the RSR integrale in the pictures too! This website is one of my morning ritual website visits and it’s been great to see pictures and even an article about integrales, fabulous 🙂

smain
smain

I’ve been there just a month ago. Remains of Südschleife were covered in snow, but I manage to get on the closed part with my car and made a short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-JBmkDhwSw

Leucea Alexandru
Leucea Alexandru

Totally forgot about this, a good article in my opinion. The Sudschleife was quite raced..

Ryan Lopez
Ryan Lopez

those pics are creepy as hell and cool I wish I could go

Rip Curl
Rip Curl

I should add that last year I sought out the stretch of Autobahn where Bernd Rosemeyer was killed attempting a world record speed attempt. A small monument in the forest marks the spot where he crashed.

Rip Curl
Rip Curl
I too have sought out the Südschleife in one of my many visits to the Ring. While there is almost none of it left it is inspiring to travel on even a few feet of the tarmac where some great racers competed on. Circuit archeology has become a bit of a hobby of mine and in years gone by I have sought out the remains of the following tracks: – Riems where the old grandstands and garage complexes remain – Riverside where the only trace is the curvature of a walkway in a shopping mall – Rouen Les Essartes where… Read more »
Brian Driggs
Brian Driggs

This is one of the best things I’ve read all year. While the world obsesses over the latest Nordschleife novelty, this section of track quietly fades back into the ether. Having been fortunate enough to walk down more than a couple woodland trails in Germany, I can only imagine what it must have been like to know race cars had gone before.

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