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Circuits of the past

Remember the motor racing circuits of the past!

Deutschlandring 2016

It's July 30, 2016 when I leave my hotel in Dresden in the early morning and drive into the direction of Hohnstein. There is an unknown lost circuit, built in the 1930's, called Deutschlandring. It was intended that here the German Grand Prix would be held here in 1940, but the outbreak of World War II prevented this.

The history of Deutschlandring in brief

From 1926 to 1932 hillclimbs were organized on a public road near Hohnstein. In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Under his rule huge construction projects were set up, including the construction of a race track near Hohnstein.

The name of the new circuit should be Deutschlandring (Germany Circuit), which was changed into Grossdeutschlandring (Great Germany Circuit). The Grossdeutschlandring should have a length of 10 Km (6 Miles) and must accomodate a million spectators. It should also become a serious competitor for the Nürburgring.

Deutschlandring "Einkehr zur Rennstrecke" Hohnstein

The preparatory work were done by prisoners from a nearby concentration camp. After a construction period of six years the Grossdeutschlandring was festively inaugurated on April 26, 1939. A year later, the German Grand Prix should move from the Nürburgring to the Grossdeutschlandring.

But the Second World War broke out in September 1939, and so there were no Grand Prix the next years. After the war, Germany was divided into four sections, from which were created two new German states. Hohnstein was now in the Socialist German state called DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republiek), also known as East Germany.

Under the new rulers the track was remaned back into Deutschlandring and was used one more time. That was on October 14 in 1951, but during the event two drivers were killed. After this tragedie the circuit was never used again.

The track became part of the public roads but was also used for illegal racing. To prevent speeding, chicanes, rumble strips and road narrowings were constructed in 1990.

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The Deutschlandring in 2016

During my preparation for my visit to the Deutschlandring I discovered a hotel/restaurant near the old circuit called "Einkehr zur Rennstrecke" (Refreshment on the race track). I let the navigator navigate to this hotel. It should be almost 45 minutes from my hotel in Dresden.

The first part ran over the Autobahn which went smoothly. But a huge part of the route ran over secundary roads through the countryside. Here were many roadworks and soon I came across a road block. After a long detour on narrow country roads through the rolling landscape, I finally arrived at the Deutschlandring.

Immediately I recognized the track when I entered in opposite direction, to the hotel/restaurant. Once there, I parked the car and went to the restaurant. Inside were a lot of old photos from motorsport event that took place there in the past.

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Then it was time to mount the camera behind the windscreen to film a lap on the old Deutschlandring. To pass Start/Finish I first had to go further in opposite direction. Once driving in the right direction I started my lap.

The first section was very fast and contained rolling straights and fast kinks. At the end of this section there was a very long and fast right-hand banked corner. It would be a great experience to do this corner at racing speed! If the track was operational, this would be THE corner of the Deutschlandring, like the Raidillon (Please don't call it Eau Rouge) is at Spa-Francorchamps.

I couldn's resist the temptation to put the pedal to the metal. But the condition of the road forced me to slow down. The surface became even more worse farther in the corner, so I had to slow dowm more and more. Moreover, at the end of the corner they constructed a small detour to connect another road. I think they also did it to reduce the corner speed.

The next section of the Deutschlandring is a very technical and challenging one. It contains many fast and medium fast corners meandering through the woods. The combination of the bright sun and the many trees gives a stroboscopic effect, which is also clearly visible in the video.

 At the end of this section there is an intersection where I have to turn right. Because it is designed as a permanent race track there are less points where I can make a mistake. That makes it very easy to follow the track.

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The last section is the slowest part with a series of hairpins (Not like the hairpins of Hermann Tilke in the modern race tracks) and huge elevations. This is also a very technical part of the track, and even if it's not so fast it makes really fun to drive here. But unfortunateley, here are rumble strips that disturb the fun a little.

The whole track I drove alone, but on the last intersection before Start/Finish a slow driver turned in front of me. So, a final sprint on the last Mile was not possible because of this Sunday driver.

When I watched the footage after my vacation, I saw to my annoyance that the camera was somewhat too much to the right on the Deutschlandring video. That made you see in the left corners too many trees and less asphalt. Sorry about that. I will pay special attention to this in future recordings, to make it not happen again.

After my lap at the Deutschlandring I went into the direction of Berlin, where I spent the next few days. Underway I will visit the modern race track Lausitzring, and in Berlin I will visit the AVUS. But more about that in my next blog posts.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I would highly appreciate it if you leave a reaction below.

Herman Liesemeijer

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