The Nürburgring and Le Mans are both race tracks, but each represents a different side of the automotive coin. When an automaker wants to prove it can build an all-out race car, it enters one of the categories at Le Mans. When an automaker wants to prove it can build an all-around road car, it goes to the Nürburgring. Yet the 'Ring as a global phenomenon and lap-time graveyard is recent; the Nordschleife didn't appear in Playstation's 'Gran Turismo' until GT4 in 2004. Today, it's unimaginable that a high-profile racing game wouldn't include the 'Ring from the off.
It's been a wild 15 years for both the video game and the track, so the folks at Sony put together a 19-minute video on how the 'Ring and the game have changed.
The vid opens with a little history of the circuit, starting with an interview of a man who helped build it. Opa Strack said he spent nine years — along with his father — on the work crews building the circuit. The 'Ring opened in 1927, and Strack took a job as a cashier at the 'Ring's Breitscheid gate, so he's seen a lot of what's come and gone. Race team principals also contribute memories, as when Olaf Manthey of Manthey Racing — the outfit that gave us the 911 GT2 MR — waxed on the old days' fewer safety measures. He said the track was bordered by a small strip of grass, then a drainage ditch, then hedges. "When you flew into the hedges," he said, "they opened, and then closed [behind you], and nobody could find you."
Racers and fans speak up, too. Racer and 'Ring taxi driver Sabine Schmitz says the cars are so fast now that you miss the spectators. "You drive with tunnel vision and actually only race through the Eifel, which is a little sad." And one fan set up a Gran Turismo rig in his VW camper, with a large monitor, chair, pedals, and steering wheel only because he'd seen someone else do it on a previous visit.
The middle of the doc looks at Gran Turismo and how it has dovetailed with actual racing at The Green Hell and other places, before returning to the German countryside and its wild unpredictability. With less than one week to go before the 24 Hours Nürburgring race, the GT short is a beautiful way to get primed.