Replica of iconic Nurburgring racetrack proposed for Las Vegas
By C.C. Weiss
March 13, 2012
Germany's Nurburgring is possibly the most famous racetrack in the entire world. Not only does it host racing competitions, but it also provides the ultimate testing grounds for new cars and prototypes - manufacturers from around the world travel to Germany to test their cars. Speedway Motorsports wants to make some of those journeys a little shorter, by building an exact replica of Nurburgring just outside of Las Vegas.
The United States has plenty of racetracks of its own - in fact, Speedway operates eight of them - but it doesn't have anything the caliber of Nurburgring, largely considered one of the most difficult racetracks in the world thanks to about 16 miles (26 km) of twisting, hilly terrain. Unlike the enclosed stadium tracks in the US, Nurburgring is integrated into its rolling, wooded surroundings and even has a 12th century castle located inside its perimeter. So, it's like quintessential European countryside bottled up into one of the world's most demanding pieces of asphalt - it's no wonder it is famous the world over.
Speedway may not be able to duplicate the history or ambiance of the original racetrack, but it does plan to duplicate the turns and features of the track itself. Its track would be an exact replica of the original, located on 8,000 acres (3237.5 hectares) of land about 10 miles (16 km) from its existing Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The company doesn't have any plans to hold racing events at the proposed track - that's kind of what Las Vegas Speedway does - but the track would take on the role of a test bed for manufacturers and car owners, providing a much closer destination for US-based entities.
In a recent interview with Sirius XM Sports, Speedway CEO Bruton Smith said that he's already been in talks with Nevada's governor, the Bureau of Land Management and several German contacts, who are presumably connected to or knowledgeable about the original track. If the project gets the go-ahead, Smith and company plan to work closely with German engineers, using photographs, aerial topography and other resources to replicate every curve and hill to a T.
Las Vegas seems like the perfect destination for a faux 'Ring. The city already has a history of both motorsports and the cloning of iconic European destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum. The greater state of Nevada has more public land than any other state except Alaska, so it's not like there's a lack of space.
While the dry, hot Nevada desert may contrast the Eifel Mountains where the original Nurburgring is located, it could work well for auto manufacturers. Manufacturers could conceivably use the track for hot-weather testing as well as performance testing. Smith even believes that German manufacturers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz would come overseas to use the track, because a Vegas location would allow for year-round testing, whereas the actual Nurburgring experiences cold, snowy winters.