The Nürburgring 24hr endurance race, held this weekend at the infamous German motorsport mecca, may be the world’s most outrageous racing event.
It’s made unique by the punishing 15.5-mile circuit it’s contested on; by the 200-strong, borderline dangerously varied field of cars entered; by the incredible bravery and skill of the drivers who tackle it; and not least by the hedonistic commitment of the fans who descend on that particular corner of the Eifel mountains in their hundreds of thousands every Whitsun bank holiday weekend.
Last year's race was won by the Land Motorsport Team's Audi R8 LMS driven by Connor De Phillippi, Christopher Mies, Markus Winkelhock and Kelvin van der Linde. 109 cars finished the race, among them VW Golfs, Renault Clios, Porsche Caymans and Opel Astras as well as the Mercedes-AMG GTs, BMW M6s, Porsche 911s and others.
If you’ve been to ‘N24’, you’ll know about the race’s many vast camping areas and the hardcore festival atmosphere that overtakes them during race week. The most densely populated are the ones adjacent to the most popular spectating areas of the Nordschleife – at Karussell, Brunnchen, Metzgesfeld and Adenau – where the fans arrive early to build multi-storey edifices out of wood, steel, scaffold – and sometimes tractors – and to dedicate them to drinking, partying and watching the racing that’s unfolding just a few metres away. When you hear N24 drivers talk about the smell of bonfires and barbeques filtering into their helmets during a long night stint, it’s these fans they’re talking about.
Ahead of this year's race, we look back at the time we took an impromptu tour of the camping areas at Brunnchen and Pflanzgarten to bring you some photographic flavour of what it’s like to be a super-fan at N24. The images we captured were taken at last year's race, at around 9am on Sunday morning, 18 hours into the racing action, after a long night of bingeing on the race’s overdose of motorsport party fever.
Click through the gallery above to see them all.