The Green Hell – the name given to a track so legendary and integral to race history that it is still often used as a benchmark for rating some of racing’s greatest cars and drivers. When Jackie Stewart gave that now famous name to the Nurburgring Nordschleife (the track on which he achieved he last-ever Formula 1 win) he wasn’t being overly dramatic. Stewart honestly believed that each time he challenged the notorious German circuit, it could very well be his last. The Nurburgring has taken the lives of over 60 people in sanctioned races and competitions. The mix of allure and danger posed by this course continues to draw drivers and fans long after Formula 1 stopped using it for competition. Just how integral the Nordschleife is to race culture and history was further reinforced in the film Rush where Niki Lauda had his infamous crash while battling for the Driver’s Championship with James Hunt.
Since Jackie Stewart’s time, the Nurburgring has gone through a number of revisions and modernizations to shorten the track and make it safer. The Nordschleife (aka North Loop) has been shorted from 22.8km in the 1920s to a little over 20.8km today. Much of the shortening was done by removing corners and straightening out sections of the track. Additionally, barriers and sand traps were added while notoriously bumpy sections were smoothed to improve handling and stability. Despite this, the Nordschleife remains extremely narrow by modern track standards, has little to no run off over much of its length, has numerous blind corners, experiences vast changes in elevation and continues to have a very rough surface in certain sections. This hasn’t dissuaded race enthusiasts nor car manufacturers who come every year to test their vehicles and use lap times when advertising their newest vehicles in comparison to the competition – those who conquer the Green Hell exercise their bragging rights.
The following list looks at 20 of the fastest production cars to lap the Nordschleife. This is not a fastest lap-time list but looks at fastest vehicle models, thus cutting out repeat entries and model types. In all cases, the vehicles undertake the 20.6km track which is a slightly altered and shortened version of the 20.8km circuit. Of course, there are critics (like James May from Top Gear and Ford’s chief engineer Jamal Hameedi) who say lap times at the track are worthless as a measurement. In part, they are correct. There is no standardization among the cars when manufacturers lap them. Tires, settings, weather – it’s all different for each car and the lap it undertakes which means these results can’t be taken as the bible for who has the best car. Additionally, real life conditions are not tested on the track. That said, let’s put all that regulation and realism garbage behind us, just for one moment, and enjoy going through some truly awesome cars which are legal to buy and drive by ‘regular’ people like you and me.
20 Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series – 7:25:67
19 Ferrari Enzo – 7:25:21
18 T16. Porsche 911 GT3 (991) – 7:25:00
17 T16. KTM X-Bow R – 7:25:00
16 T16. Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 – 7:25:00
15 Pagani Zonda F Clubsport – 7:24:65
14 Maserati MC12 – 7:24:29
13 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (with Z07 Package) – 7:22:68
12 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – 7:19:63
11 Nissan GTR – 7:19:10
10 Radical SR3 Turbo – 7:19:00
9 Porsche 911 GT2 RS – 7:18:00
8 Donkervoort D8 RS – 7:14:89
7 Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package – 7:14:64
6 Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR – 7:12:13
5 Gumpert Apollo Sport – 7:11:57
4 Nissan GTR Nismo – 7:08:68
3 Porsche 918 Spyder (Weissach Package) – 6:57:00
2 Radical SR8 – 6:55:00
1 Radical SR8LM – 6:48:00
Michael Vergers returned to the Nurburgring in 2009 in an even higher performance Radical SR8 – the LM edition. The SR8 LM uses a larger 2.8L V8 engine which produced 455hp (roughly 90hp more than the SR8) in the same 650kg body used by the SR8. The results, as you could imagine, were very noticeable. Vergers shaved a whole seven seconds of his previous SR8 time. Despite this, there are those who refuse to accept these figures because they believe the Radicals are not ‘real’ production cars. We are sure those lucky enough to get their hands on one of these $180,000 performers won’t care one way or another. They’ll be too busy keeping an eye on the Porsche in their rear-view mirror.
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