Germany’s famed Nürburgring is a mecca for driving enthusiasts from around the world, many of whom show up to drive the track in their own cars. Tourists from across the pond, however, face another dilemma: it’s possible to drive the track in a rental car (as far as I know), but doing so will void any insurance coverage you may or may not have on the vehicle. In other words, if you’re unlucky enough to stack your rented VW Golf in the Carousel, you’ll be writing a big-ass check to the rental agency when you turn in the keys. Local vendors will gladly rent you a race-prepped car to lap the ‘Ring, but this gets expensive very quickly; even a Renault Clio Cup hot hatch will set you back nearly $500 for a half day session, and a Porsche GT3 RS will run you $2,500 for a half day session. For years, the most cost effective way to lap the ‘Ring was in a “Ring Taxi”, sponsored by BMW and driven by such Nürburgring hot shoes as Sabine Schmitz. For a fee of about $270, up to three passengers could enjoy a hot lap of the ‘Ring, but it looks like those days may be coming to an end.
Autoblog is reporting that OK Speed Marketing, the company behind the ‘Ring Taxi, is canceling the program due to lack of profitability. BMW has subsidized the cost of the program for years, and that cost is staggering: by some estimates, it costs $665 per lap to operate the M5s at speed. Due to insurance regulations, tires are replaced every ten laps and brake pads are replaced every 20 laps. Suspension components are changed every 50 laps, and those costs add up to a loss of nearly $400 per lap. With BMW pulling their sponsorship of the ‘Ring Taxi, OK Speed Marketing really had no other choice than to cancel the service.
There’s speculation that another company will soon fill the void left by OK Speed Marketing, but chances are good they won’t be lapping in M5s, or that the laps will cost significantly more money than in years past. We’ll keep you posted as things develop, but here’s a question – have you lapped the ‘Ring? As a driver or as a passenger? Sorry, but Gran Turismo or Forza laps don’t count.