On the Nordschleife, the north circuit of the Nürburgring, there is a place called Flugplatz, literally “flying place.” It was so-called originally because nearby there was a small airfield used primarily for gliders. However, the entry to Flugplatz involves coming up over a brow at full speed as the road rises up steeply from the long descent of Quiddelbacher-Höhe.
Here is Niki Lauda truly flying over that brow in the Ferrari 312T during practice for the 1976 German Grand Prix which would take place on August 1st. He was trying to equal his astounding under-7 minute pole time from 1975. The next day’s race was when Lauda had his terrible accident just before the later Bergwerk section when a suspension link broke on his car. That fiery crash and the 1976 F1 season now has been made famous by the film “Rush.” Lauda’s crash, which involved two other cars, was not the only accident that day. In the restarted race three other drivers went off, fortunately without injury.
Interestingly because of the length of the circuit and the speeds being attained by the then latest generation of F1 cars, it had already been decided that the 1976 German Grand Prix would be the last to be held on the Nordschleife and indeed it was. Lauda had tried to stop the 1976 race but had been outvoted in the drivers meeting. It very nearly cost him his life.
A few weeks ago a Nissan GT-R running in an endurance race on the Nordschleife got airborne on this crest and back-flipped over a catch fence into a spectator area, resulting in four injuries and a death. Modern GT3 racing is currently under speed limitations on sections of the Nordschleife as a result.
Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcol.com