Only Two Nordschleife Records Matter, And All Others Need To Stop

With manufacturers finding ever more sneaky channels down which they can claim a slightly flimsy Nurburgring lap record, it all needs to stop

Just how big a deal is a Nurburgring lap record? And is it any bigger a deal these days than it used to be? The way manufacturers are seizing any opportunity to claim one, you’d think the car’s entire success depended on it.

The most recent example came from Mercedes, whose brutish and no doubt bonkers AMG GT 4-Door just looped the Nordschleife in 7m25s. Quick, in other words, and the firm is claiming a record for the fastest four-seater.

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On the other hand you have Jaguar, whose Project 8 madmobile did the same lap four seconds faster but had ripped its rear seats out to save weight. According to the claimed records, that one is the fastest saloon. These are two records but two not terribly dissimilar cars that should really be competing, not being separated by technicalities.

But we’re not done yet. A manual Chevolet Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package has previously smashed a 7m16s lap of the circuit, beating the big Mercedes by nine seconds. It’s a two-door, sure, but it’s definitely a production four-seater. We’re not sure whether the Germans just forgot about it or place it in a different sub-class. And that is exactly the issue.

Only Two Nordschleife Records Matter, And All Others Need To Stop

The Project 8 is quite specific about the convenient class of one it created for itself. It’s in something called ‘production intent specification,’ which, when it’s stripped out and fitted with a roll cage, seems a little disingenuous. The actual saloon record around the North Loop is held by a heavily modified Subaru WRX STI Type RA, which clocked 6m57.5s on slick tyres.

That’s at least three records across the saloon class alone, and that’s before we even bothered Googling the records for different drivetrain layouts. The caveats to make these PR-boosting records happen are getting silly.

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The hot hatch class is another example of things getting out of hand. It got embarrassing with the amount of times it turned out that X manufacturer had secretly taped-up all the panel gaps to make its car more aerodynamic, or had taken a load of production-spec weight out, or had secretly fitted the stickiest road-legal tyres they could onto it while tenuously claiming this or that record.

Enough. Only two Nurburgring records really matter, because only two of them should matter. There’s the outright fastest time anyone has ever driven around that track in a vehicle with four wheels, currently Porsche’s 919 Evo, and the fastest time set by a car in 100 per cent basic showroom spec – not including a single thing from the options list. Let’s have none of these optional VelociPerformance MegaSpeed upgrades that are basically like video game cheats that take 30 seconds off the standard lap time.

The fastest thing around the Nurburgring... ever
The fastest thing around the Nurburgring... ever

Stopping all the antics around squeezing records out of thin air would, for one thing, stop the dilution of the value in such a thing. It used to be a mighty achievement if your car was the fastest around the Green Hell. Today we’re in a position where we have to check the subtext of exactly how each record was achieved, to see whether – and how – each player is bending the truth.

What the automotive world has learned is that when you start dividing records into classes, people deliberately place themselves outside of the rules in order to create a new sub-division and automatically a new record. We surely can’t be the only ones who’ve had enough?


K Chaitanya Rao

These specific records are genuinely getting ridiculous, bragging about having the fastest 4 door saloon or 3 row SUV really shows the incompetence of manufacturers towards improving their product instead.

10/27/2018 - 10:07 |
132 | 0

I’m not complaining at all about having video footage of fast Nürburgring laps to watch 😎

10/27/2018 - 15:08 |
16 | 6

I thing bragging rights also play a part in this whole thing too. These manufacturers are only building these cars with the Nurburgring in mind not what the consumer would want. And for what to say “hey we’re Mercedes and our 4 door car, that you will be using to get to work and back, it is the fastest 4 door sedan around the Nurburgring”. In reality what good does that info have besides allowing these companies to brag about the car and charge some extra $$$$ because “iTs ThE FasTesT cAr ArOud The RinG”

10/28/2018 - 12:56 |
0 | 0
AAA Insurance

finna do a lap and have the record for the fastest baby boomer inline 4 car driven by an amateur driver who has never been to germany and last ate watermelon 6.678 months ago 😤 💯 🙏👌

10/27/2018 - 10:18 |
96 | 0

They are allowed to claim to be the fastest vehicle of their body type, the rest is bull shit

10/27/2018 - 10:43 |
10 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Even that’s ambiguous. For example SUV vs hatchback.

10/27/2018 - 12:21 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Or fastest of their drivetrain

10/27/2018 - 14:41 |
2 | 0
Tomislav Celić

Strongly disagree. We should have multiple categories. FWD, AWD, RWD, EV, Hybrid, Petrol, Diesel, 4 seater, 4 door, road legal, production and all out record.

10/27/2018 - 11:16 |
58 | 14

Especially road legal, the Subaru Type RA isn’t even close to production car anymore with all its upgrades so it’s record shouldn’t compete with this fastest 4 door.

10/27/2018 - 11:25 |
24 | 2

I agree but scrap the hybrid category (this will probably end up going to either an ICE car with a slightly enlarged starter motor or a full EV with a tiny RC car engine in the back for “range extending” purposes). Also no 4-seater record as it’s hard to define whether a car is a true 4 or a 2+2.

10/27/2018 - 12:20 |
14 | 0

^^ agree with this

10/29/2018 - 05:58 |
0 | 0

This is totally out of hand, thanks for the amazing article. I think all we need is the all-out record, production record, and the 4 door record, because the Project 8 did something really impressive but it’s almost always overshadowed.

10/27/2018 - 12:06 |
4 | 0

I think requiring a base spec is a bit too far, but I agree that all these modifications to “production” cars is getting silly. A “production” car must be one that a customer can regularly order (without any custom jobs or knowing people on the inside) and none of the options can be limited in number (apart from any overall car production limits of course).

10/27/2018 - 12:17 |
10 | 0

The problem with Nurburgring records is how long the track is. Its very difficult to remember all the corners, let alone all the different lines to take, so a driver who knows the ‘Ring well will be able to go much faster than an equally skilled driver who doesn’t have the same track knowledge. So simply, even if one car should go around the track faster than a rival car, it may end up being 10 seconds slower depending on which racing driver is driving.

10/27/2018 - 12:55 |
2 | 6

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Did you know that auto makers can (but don’t always) hire professional drivers to do these laps? Corvette aside, every lap has been done by professional drivers.

I’d volunteer to do fast laps myself even, and you know that I have the course memorized enough that I’d only need ~20 laps to set the time, and even that’s because I’d be having too much fun to set the fast lap without messing around a little first.

At the end of the day, these records are fun. It’s not like we complain about having too many world record laps to watch onboards from…

10/27/2018 - 15:07 |
4 | 2

Or how about a horsepower to weight ratio class system? No? Just me thinking that it would be fun to actually see manufacturers trying to cook up clever ways to make their street cars faster without detracting from fuel efficiency, ergonomics or luxury?

10/27/2018 - 14:55 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Melons

That would encourage manufacturers to make their cars heavier. No thank you.

10/27/2018 - 15:15 |
2 | 2

You’re actually properly back then? That’s cool. Kind of gone downhill though…

10/27/2018 - 16:48 |
0 | 0

I think these times should stop soon. I can see why the Hyundai 130N and Veloster N weren’t tested on Nurburgring this lunacy should be a major factor as to why. It’s all about making dumb bragging rights a random company has set on their own terms instead of sinply testing the car’s performace to see if it can live up to consumer expectations. And like what Matt said, only the fastest time ever made by either a race car and a street legal, out of the dealer car, should inly matter for making times on the Nordschleife.

10/27/2018 - 15:58 |
0 | 0

Doesn’t the N division of Hyundai stand for Nurburgring? That and namyang

10/27/2018 - 18:49 |
2 | 0
Dave 12

Interesting. I guess they tweaked it during testing. Can’t get the times? Start tearing stuff out until you do then make up your own category. Sad.

10/27/2018 - 16:47 |
4 | 0


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