Europe Does It Better: The Nürburgring 24H Classic Race
Grid Walk

Zero run-off, three hours of racing, 25 kilometers per lap, 73 to 150-plus corners depending how you count them, and over 200 cars from the ’90s and earlier. These numbers could only add up to one thing: the Nürburgring Classic during the N24.

Of all of the intense and incredible activities over weekend of the Nürburgring 24 Hour, this vintage event was the one I was looking forward to the most. Although I have been spoiled in California when it comes to historic racing, no event there can even come close to the Classic.

First off, the entry list is absolutely massive and encompasses some of my all-time favorite cars in stunning race trim. Next, the race itself lasts a full three hours and, finally, the cars at the front are truly driven on the limit. No driver aids, no holding back, and nowhere to go if you get it wrong – this is the Green Hell as it was in decades past.


A day spent after travelling through nine time zones and a series of awkward extended naps, I was up at 6:00am (or 3:00pm at home) to prepare for my first-ever day of shooting at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Exhausted as I was, I could not have been more stoked when I walked on to the grid before race start.

A couple of hundred cars from roughly the 1960s to the 1990s were strewn around, sorting themselves out into their positions to start the race. Race engineers and support crews were running about, buttoning up the final details to ready the cars for the long three hours ahead.


While a few of the regular high-end entries were absent this weekend — namely the flame-spitting BMW M1 Procars as well as a Kremer K1 I was rather looking forward to seeing — there was no shortage of mad machinery to take in.


The German marques were unsurprisingly strong in number, but a few American entries snuck in along with at least one from Japan. I’ll need to run a little spotlight on the surprise R32 sighting later on, but for now let’s take a good look at the rest.


The front of the grid was made up almost entirely of RSR-based Porsches, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Not only were these cars exceedingly fast back in the day, the enthusiast base is very much still there to continue supporting these chassis. It also seems that the owners of vintage Porsches in particular are the least afraid to pitch them around a track, even if the consequences of getting it wrong in these rear-engined old timers are quite high.


In fact, it seemed like the first six or seven rows of the grid were exclusively occupied by 911s.


Porsche was obviously represented beyond the 911, and it was cool to see the model years creeping up into the ’90s and the variety within this one marque.


There was a plethora of other awesome German-made offerings on tap as well, and I couldn’t wait to see them driven at full noise.

Playing Favorites

Of course, you don’t end up at an event like the Nürburgring 24 Hour without being a bit obsessed with cars, and with this obsession comes a preference.


Making the rounds, the first car that really jumped out at me was this Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 in Evolution II trim. I really don’t know a whole lot about these cars beyond the fact that only 500 were built (plus two in silver) and that none were offered in the US market. We did get the original Cosworth-enhanced 190E 2.3-16 version good for 165hp, but the AMG-upgraded engine in the 2.5-16 Evo II produced 235hp from the factory.


Regardless, the bodywork on the Evo II is what makes this car immediately recognizable and entirely unique. The wheel arches, the integrated wing, the front splitter – the whole thing just screams ‘90s DTM. In other words, it’s very, very cool.


As for the Porsches, choosing a favorite was a toss-up between this stunning Group 4 hero, a gold-on-green RSR…


And this Camel-liveried RSR.


Based on aesthetics alone, my heart ultimately went for the blue-gold Porsche, but it’d be fascinating to sit down with the owners and hear about the history of these particular chassis, as well as to learn more about what’s under their skin today.


It’s surely the same power plant as back in the day, but to keep it running over the course of three hours I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of modern kit thrown in there. Although not all of the cars on the grid were originally race cars, there’s no doubt that any Porsche with this bodywork has absolute presence on any circuit around the globe.


However, value aside, if there was one car in the lineup that I’d like to make my own, it would have to be this BMW E24. I have to admit, seeing this car up close on the grid of the N24 Classic definitely makes my search for a new project car a bit more complicated.


Sure, I’m aware the chassis isn’t the most robust, nor the most refined when compared to an M car from the 1990s, and a couple of decades’ worth of R&D in suspension geometry and material science will do that. But even if the cars are a bit flimsy when chucked around, there are just so many things that designer Paul Bracq simply nailed on the first 6 Series. The proportions are just right.

It’s becoming more and more difficult not to have one of these in my life…


The driver behind the wheel of this particular 635 was looking quite dapper as well, helping to complete the slightly vintage aesthetic of the shark-nose with a proper salt-and-pepper ‘stache.


Eventually the start of the race was imminent, and I made my way back to the pits where I found a ’64 Ford Falcon pulling up to the line. The Green Hell in a car with a solid axle, originally designed for little more than to drive in a straight line across the vast American landscape? Sounds like a party.

Race Time

When the green flag dropped I wanted to get a few shots of the cars making their way into the first corner of the Grand Prix circuit four-wide, but I was worried I’d get lost in the maze of service roads and tunnels that I’d need to navigate to get out to the Nordschleife.


Since each of these models actually raced the long circuit in years past, I decided to skip the race start and head straight out to the big track. Seeing as how the Nordschleife itself is over 20km (plus another 5km for the Grand Prix Circuit which is also used over the N24 weekend), getting around to various corners was a daunting task.

While I did have a plan to shoot a little bit of the GP course and simply walk up from T13 through Nordkehre and on to Hocheichen and up as far as I could hike in three hours, I was lucky to run into a couple of friends – Nate Hassler and Lisa Linke – who offered to show me a few good locations.


If I hadn’t found Nate and Lisa on the grid, there’s no way I could have visited so many corners of the Nordschleife on my first visit to the track, so a huge thanks to them. Seeing more of the corners in person gave me a better perspective on how hard these guys really push, too.


I’ve always maintained that California is the holy grail for vintage racing, with a number of events happening throughout the year and loads of variety at each one. This includes old Porsche 917s, 962s, Alphas, Formula Ford racers, even cars on wooden wheels, and so on.

But nothing compares to the Green Hell.


Sure, a handful of the drivers in the States are quite serious, but for the most part, the races are more exhibition than a flat-out, like you see here during the N24. There’s no doubt this is a proper race, and the competitors are fully willing to accept the consequences of their dedication to speed.


The other factor that makes the vintage events in California a bit less palatable is that at, say, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion or Rennsport, the races themselves typically only last 20 minutes. That’s enough time for roughly 10 or 12 laps at Laguna Seca, which just isn’t enough to really call it a race.


It’s more like an absolutely epic track day, and it’s great that each class gets equal share of the track, but it just doesn’t hold nearly the same level of excitement that an event like the N24 Classic does, being that this is a proper three-hour race. For some perspective, that’s longer than any Formula 1 race or the Long Beach Grand Prix.


This means that not only do the cars need to be prepped to withstand multiple hours of abuse, but the driver skill (on average) is worlds ahead of what I’ve seen at similarly-themed events in California.


A track like the Nordschleife requires an insane amount of dedication, focus, and grit. The smallest of errors here means you’re heading over a couple meters’ worth of grass and into a guardrail. Any older car is going to be harder to sort on the limit, and this is exactly where the majority of these cars are driven.


There were plenty of lead changes and a few minor mishaps, but in the end Michael Küke took the victory in his #503 Carrera RSR. Küke’s been racing at this event since 2004, so I can only imagine the satisfaction he must have had finding himself in P1 at the end of three intense hours behind the wheel.


It’s hard to convey the insanity of the elevation change, blind crests, high-speed sweepers, and proximity of the racers, but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Maintaining focus in vintage machinery for a few hours is no small ordeal, and I’ve never seen a classic race with so much drama in my life.


If you’re aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect — and if you aren’t, this should sort you — it’s pretty clear to me that when it comes to historic racing, I’m on that steep downward slope at the moment. I really thought I had it good in California.


Still, little though I may know, I can safely say the three-hour torture test at the N24 Classic is unlike anything else. This era of cars — race cars in particular — have always held a special place in my heart, but seeing them unleashed on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife is quite nearly too much to bear.

The Green Hell truly is one-of-a-kind, and this was just the start of Friday…

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto

Galerie Klassische


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Woah. Amazing photos. Did you use film for all the shots?!? Love it so much.


Thanks dude. Negative, I would have liked to but this being my first time to the track I didn't want to risk it by adding another layer of mystery. That, and I'd need to start working on the photos within the next day or two.

Maybe next year, if I feel like lugging around an extra body for 15 miles a day...


words: dont bother


What would you have liked to read about?


words are always a subjective take and i appreciate hearing different viewpoints.

photos were great! my first car was an E24. i wish i never sold it but i certainly couldn't afford it as a 16yr old and all the work it needed (rust!) let alone maintenance. been making up for it ever since and finally feel cured with my AMG.

the one thing i wish was included on various event coverage was 'results' or at least a link. i'm just curious as heck to compare lap times with such crazily diverse machinery and i often end up down google rabbit holes looking into these events... not necessarily a bad thing i s'pose ;)


Yeah, certainly can't make everyone happy, thanks man!

As for results, I didn't see anything detailed posted anywhere, which made that aspect of coverage hard. I only saw a handful of corners of the race and couldn't understand the announcers speaking German haha.


The race, the cars, the people. I don't need comparisons to other tracks or country's and I couldn't care less that you've heard of dunning Kruger.


After being utterly disappointed by Le Mans 24h, the Nurburgring I'm hoping can deliver. It's on my bucket list for sure


Dude, the fan experience at Nürburgring 24H is INSANE. They camp for like a week and build little towns around the circuit lol. It's so crazy that I'll need to put together a story on just the fans. Talking to the regulars, it doesn't seem like many bother with Le Mans, though. They all told me the N24 is where it's at as far as hanging out and having a good time.


And we can be happy that it is this way. For many years the organisers tried to make it "bigger" in every way, focusing less and less on the racing but sh*t around it, more concerts, more festival character, more unicorn cars and drivers, which resulted in more guest coming just for party and alcohol.
In recent years (I dare say since the advent of internet streaming, moving away from TV broadcasts) this progression was stopped. It still is a huge party, but one focused on motorsport. The growth of the GT3 top class, as much as fans love to hate it, did help, as before it was much less of a tension filled sports event with the leaders running laps in advance.


4th last photo, that Merc, in white... that's gorgeous
I'd love see more about that Merc


I wish I had found it on the grid. Didn't see it racing til about halfway through but luckily snagged one shot. Next year haha...


Nice! What an epic car


The story behind is really epic and even better is has a plate number


I approve of this post, not only because I'm a huge fan of the race but also because the Porsche 914 appears 7 times in it. It celebrates 50 years this year and in a few days I'll be visiting the Porsche museum for the first time. Excited, hell yes !


Nice! Yeah, the 914 really is a fantastic car. I have a feature on a 914 coming, shot a few months back in California


Europe always does racing better. Thats a fact.... There is way more know-how and professionalism in Europe. Best raceteams around the world are all situated here.


Europe always does racing better. Thats a completly subjective opinion.... There is way more know-how and professionalism in Europe (see i cherry picked 2 catagories that prove my point). Best raceteams around the world are all situated here.


Racing is a broad term that fits several things under it, you can race anything from boats to planes to wooden boxes with wheels attached. Better is subjective at the best of time and if you are defining "better" as professionalism and know how, well that is entirely debatable.

No, it is clear that you came here to troll and hate on Americans which ruins any validity of your opinion. Its obvious if you read any of your other comments on this article. It is especially obvious when you go on to cherry pick about "about the fastest stuff there is", if you were looking to actually compare racing around the world then a good place to start would be the common denominator. With the explosion of popularity of the GT4 and GT3 classes there is alot to compare on similar grounds.

But please, continue to move goal posts, cherry pick data, insult others and show us all your moral superiority in the realm of racing where Merica bad!


Mike, you clearly didn't read below. I'm basing this all on elapsed time. There is no room for debate in that. Time is time, unless we are talking about a different planet and where time is measured in days. Seconds, minutes and hours will still be the same though....

As for GT3 or GT4: No that isn't. I have actually worked in that field. So unless you have the same sanctioning body (which should always be FIA for the record), Then GT3 and GT4 cars are not compairable. But that still is besides the point. Because lets face it: Americans could make a racing class that is technology wise ahead of the stuff thats happening in Europe. But the thing is: That isn't happening as of yet. And the reason is quite simple: There is not enough knowhow and infrastructure over there. Why do you think that most of the F1 teams are based in the same area in England? Thats also why Haas is based there and not in 'Merica. They could build the team there, as their head office is in North Carolina. Sowhy didn't they? I know the answer....

And to state my claim, lets see lap times on COTA All on the same track and in 'Merica:
F1: 1:37.392
LMP1: 1:47.052
Indycar: 1.48:895 (losing even to LMP1, what a shame)
LMP2: 1:54.559
DPi: 1:54.809
DP: 2:00.026

That means that each lap a F1 car is 11,5 seconds quicker compaired to Indy. To put that into perspective thats a blue flag every 9 laps for the Indy car because the F1 is one full lap ahead....

LMP1 --> DPi: 8,5 seconds per lap faster. That means it takes about 13 laps for the DPi cars to be lapped by the LMP1 car.

And lets also not forget who built the chassis of the 'Merican cars: Dallara. Didn't they happen to be in Italy....?

Just stating the facts. I cant help it if the truth hurts....


Race teams in WEC are situated in Europe, race teams in IMSA are situated in America. Neither one is better than the other, which is often reflected at LeMans


F1: All of them. Even an 'Merican team like Haas is in essence European based: Banbury. They need to get expertise somewhere don't they? It's not like your going to find it in 'Merica. And it still is an "also ran" at best

WEC: All of the WEC champions LMP1 champions there is not a single driver 'Merican. And there also isn't a single team 'Merican.

Le Mans: We are talking about the top of motorsport, not the also ran classes So its LMP1.... Oh wait, no 'Mericans....

IMSA: Where the I stands for International? Ehr right!?

So no, There is way more know how and professionalism. And I didn't even bring up WRC, or DTM, etc....


Not to mention McLaren failed to qualify for the only race they attempted in indycar.


Article isn't about f1 so that's irrelevant.
Lmp1 isn't the only class, it isn't the most popular class and it currently only has one team competing.
Plenty of Americans have overall victory's at LeMans, they typically don't race an entire season because there are nearly identical series stateside. Imsa weather tech series is an American series.
There isn't anymore professionalism or know how, just different knowledge based on different series. You should educate yourself before making such foolish claims


It isn't a popularity contest. Its just about the fastest stuff there is, which LMP1 is. There where other teams competing in LMP1 before, as there where in GT1 class. Still no 'Mericans though....

And as the article says: "Europe does it better". Which doesn't state any form of racing, so F1 is highly relevant. Unlike Indycar I might ad....

As for le mans victory's: Team Victory dates back to: ADT Champion Racing in 2005 with an Audi R8 (not the roadcar I might ad). Before that it was a certain Shelby American in '67. So no, There are almost no American Racing teams present in the winning history of Le Mans. There was a Japanese overal win in 1991 in the form of Mazda. In 2004 there was Audi sport Japan Team Goh and of course Toyota the last to years. The rest is European, because far superior....

Drivers from 'Merica at le Mans: 1996 was the last one. That would be Davy Jones.... I wonder which continent delivered the most le Mans winners by I shit ton? I'll give you a hint: It isn't 'Merica....

As for Mclaren: Totally right about that in Indycar, also known as Amateur Formule 1. Oh, ever heard of a company named "Ilmor"? Happens to be in Brixton England, and is currently called Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. Just so happens that they also designed a lot of Indy engines. Like the Chevy, and Honda, and Oldsmobile. Or did you forget about that????

So as for education myself: I'm well aware of history. I you don't believe my claims, look them up for yourself. Anyone can do that....


The Indy 500 is the most attended sporting event in the world, so yes, it is very relevant. Yes, other company's have designed engines for formula cars, like Honda does for f1. Good job stating the obvious? I realize there have been many American drivers who have won at LeMans, that's why I corrected you so that you could go and Google it and try to save face. Lmp1 has been dead for years, gt racing is the only thing that manufacturers and fans care about. Gt racing that American teams and European teams are both successful at.


You know you are digging your own grave right? Probably 'Merican....?

Most attended yes, but does indy have the most sophisticated cars in open wheel racing? No, F1 has. Does IMSA have the most sophisticated cars in prototype racing? No , Le mans and WEC have.

Coincidence? Of course not...

And because you don't like the fastest open wheel racing and the fastest prototype racing doesn't mean they aren't the best. Look at the times clocked. They don't lie. Thats only the case with your opinion....

As for the Honda Indy engine, and the chevy indy Engine: They are both built and designed in England. (by Mercedes and formerly Ilmor). Try looking it up? The last American made Engine in an F1 car to win a race? That would be the Offy in 1960. That's 59 years ago.... The Ford engine doesn't count, as that is made and designed in England. Honda engines: Milton Keyes, England. Toyota F1: Cologne, Germany (I worked there ).

So no, I'm not trying to save face at all, and it's a bit late for you to that now. So good luck with that....!


Lol, most sophisticated? It's all based on the rules of that particular series and obviously it isn't working considering only one car can win in f1 and only one car competes in lmp1. You are the only person discussing engine manufacturers, nobody else cares. Your ignorance is astounding


I was sad when this article ended. Awesome photos and write-up!


If I'm not mistaken, the driver in the picture is Olaf Manthey, owner of Manthey racing outfit.


I couldn't find any detailed entry lists, but he looks the part. What a time to be alive.


Incredible photos! What filter did you use to get this slightly vintage look?


I soaked my 1Dx in a vat of radioactive waste.


Trev, great photos! Man there were a lot of Porsches at this meet/race. Incredible!


This is absolutely incredible. One can only imagine being seated in a vintage race car & being pushed to its absolute limits. definitely an old school racing that's dangerous & exhilarating! Great sets Trevor!


Great story and awesome photos. I participated the race from Wednesday to Sunday (like the 10 years before) and it was great like always.


Thank you! As spectator, mechanic, driver?


oh only as spectator. Our camp spot is near "Karussell"


Ah, nice man. I spent some time at the camps at Brünnchen/Wippermann. You fans are nuts!


Thanks Trevor for your article and the photos! I've heard the reason for the ProCar absence was about noise. It's a shame, i love seeing - and hearing(!) - them screaming away.
The color of the photos threw me off a bit, they convey a mexican-looking "yellow-hell" feeling that's just not green-hellish. I know the (exceptionally) hot and dry weekend may give the feeling it's a hot summery place, but it's called green hell for the sole reason that it's actually very green due to the moody weather that regularly brings you showers, which brings healthy green flora. At first i thought your film went bad, but seeing your comment on shooting digital it seems do be a deliberate choice to tint it yellow.

I enjoyed the article nonetheless and apart from the color the photos are awesome!


Ah, shame about the ProCar. Yeah, I knew the processing wouldn't be for everyone, although it was more about matching the cars than anything else. I definitely would have taken a bit of rain over the hot, dry, and far-too sunny race we had, but I likely would have processed this batch similarly regardless. I appreciate your feedback, though, and will definitely take it into consideration


Did you go as a normal visitor or did you have a press pass (and with that more access)?

And would you mind telling what body/lens you used? EXIF-Viewer comes up empty.


Yes, mysteriously the exif is missing. I'll actually be running a story detailing the gear, settings, and hiking around the Nürburgring soon. Check back.

Kevin Reynolds

That green and white 924 Turbo!!!!!! Sorry Trevor but I rushed through the other photos to find others of this beauty... to no avail... any info on the car?


I know! Stunning, and so cool with those turbofans. Sorry, but I have no clue about it and just grabbed a quick shot as I was leaving the grid. Next year I'll try to track some of these guys down.


Never new about the historic race series. Now I do....