If you’re reading this, you probably know that the Nürburgring Nordschleife is known as the “Green Hell” or as the Germans say Grüne Hölle. You also probably understand that this is a reference to the forest around the track and the challenge it poses. Let’s go a little deeper, though, shall we?
Let’s talk about Jackie Stewart, the gentleman pictured above. You can follow the link his name points to in the last sentence and read about him on Wikipedia. Sir Jackie Stewart, he was knighted in 2001, is a famous Scottish race car driver and three-time Formula 1 World Driving Champion. He also won the German Grand Prix three times when it was still run at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. He knows a thing or two about racing and The Nürburgring.
It was Jackie Stewart who coined the phrase Green Hell. He is a colorful character and had a way with words. An early advocate for safety in Formula 1, he had this to say on that topic:
“I would have been a much more popular World Champion if I had always said what people wanted to hear. I might have been dead, but definitely more popular.”
He had this interesting perspective on driving:
“Cornering is like bringing a woman to climax.”
This is what he had to say about The Nürburgring:
“Nothing gave me more satisfaction than to win at the Nürburgring and yet, I was always afraid.”
“When I left home for the German Grand Prix I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I’d come home again.”
You can see him drive a bit of it and talk some more about the Nordschleie in this YouTube video. He talks about his 1968 win at the German Grand Prix in this article.
In many ways, his spirit, enthusiasm and fear embody that of most who journey to The Ring. He is part of the history of the place like so many other individuals, teams and cars. It’s a history you can feel when you’re there. By experiencing it yourself, first-hand, you get a little bit more of an understanding of that history and become a part of it yourself. It is in honor of Sir Jackie Stewart, others who raced there and the local community that built it and maintain it to this day that we call ourselves Green Hell Guides.