GM builds a mini-Nordschleife for U.S.-based testing

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    By MAC MORRISON
    (08:30 June 18, 2004)

    Situated in Germany's Eifel Mountains, the 14.1-mile, 170-plus turn Nürburgring Nordschleife (North Loop) hosted 20 Formula One races between 1951 and 1976. After Niki Lauda's Ferrari crashed and caught fire there in '76, F1 deemed the circuit too dangerous, but for years now it has served as the ultimate production car development course.

    The 'Ring's unparalleled combination of high-speed corners, severe braking zones and vertigo-inducing elevation changes offers engineers an extreme challenge on which to hone their products. Plus, the roads around Castle Nurburg are convenient for European carmakers, especially German ones like Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It is, however, decidedly less so for U.S. or Asian manufacturers. GM was among those that decided it was worth the trip, especially since the arrival of Bob Lutz as product development czar.

    Since '97, GM made three to four Nürburgring trips per year, for two to three weeks per trip, says Frank Taverna, engineering group manager for General Motors' prestige, performance and luxury cars. Cadillac's CTS and CTS-V, Chevrolet's 2005 Corvette and Saturn's Ion Redline were among the cars tested on such trips. "Now, we'll probably cut down to two trips per year, two weeks per trip," Taverna says.

    GM hasn't capped its commitment to performance or slashed the budget. Instead, it has brought a piece of Nordschleife home, to its Milford (Michigan) Proving Ground. At 3.6-miles in its longest configuration, GM's new $7 million Milford Road Course opened in December and combines what engineers deem Nürburgring's most useful features with those of several U.S. circuits. From the German track's banked Karussell to Virginia International Raceway's esses, the course (which the media dubbed "the Lutzitsring") allows engineers to dial in cars for less money and in less time than before.

    "The biggest advantage is having all these features added up at one track," Taverna says. "In the past, if we had, say, an oil starvation problem, we'd have to think about the best place to go. [Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, Nevada] is a good place to do that. Higher-speed stuff, you'd go to VIR, and to Germany for the body-motion stuff. You couldn't really do it all at one track."

    With 20 turns, 98 feet of elevation change and at least five commonly used configurations, the new course impresses from behind the wheel. The MRC is so new that Taverna isn't sure of all the layout possibilities-and minor alterations were being made as late as Memorial Day.

    GM allowed us several laps on its own North Loop, a low-speed, 12-turn layout that includes the 25-degree high-banked left-hander that is nearly twice as steep as the 'Ring's Karussell. It provides sensations akin to driving inside-to use the development engineer's term-a toilet bowl. It's a 16.2-foot vertical drop from the top of the banking to the bottom.

    Later, we drove the C6 Corvette for several evaluation laps on a different configuration and found it really stretched both car and driver to their limits. (Patience, dear reader-we're not allowed to comment on the Vette until Aug. 1.) While GM hasn't let us loose on the full course, Taverna says the most commonly used 2.9-mile version allows a C5 Corvette Z06 to reach 155 mph, after which it must brake hard for a downhill decreasing-radius turn.

    It's a tough test, but if "validated in Milford" does not excite you quite as much as "developed at the Nürburgring," there are still those two trips to Germany per year to give street cred to GM's cars. Thanks to the MRC, engineers expect to be better prepared when they arrive. "Those trips will become more of a check-off ride," Taverna says. "When we develop a car here, we expect it to be able to go over there and function just fine."

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  2. Bobby Ballsack

    Bobby Ballsack I could be a friend to you

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  3. mucky

    mucky .

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    So, what's the point of building them out in German over the USA if the tested vehicles are USA bound anyways? :ugh:
     
  4. WS6Formula350

    WS6Formula350 molestache amririte?

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  5. mucky

    mucky .

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    Shit, I'm reading this wrong. It's built in Michigan. :doh:
     
  6. VicenteFox

    VicenteFox Does your mother still hang out at dockside bars?

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    that's pretty cool, seems a bit short though.
     
  7. cakennedy

    cakennedy Guest

    I don't think that's the case...I don't believe GM builds any vehicles in Germany for US import. The article says that GM has built its own Nurburgring-inspired test track in Michigan for testing, whch is :cool:
     
  8. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    So they built a new test track that doesn't look anything like the 'Ring, good for them...
     
  9. zatar

    zatar New Member

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    Good Job on the part of GM. :bigthumb:
     
  10. Seeker

    Seeker Brofessional OT Supporter

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    Now they just need to open it up to the public. :x:

    If there were a 'Nordshleife' in the US, people would probably flock from miles around. Bikers love the 'Ring, so there'd be motorcycle enthusiasts, too. Hold a motorsport event or two there. Charge $10-$15 bucks a lap('Ring is about $16) to the public, and you've got a winner. :bigthumb:
     
  11. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    :slap:
     
  12. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    I think this is bloody awesome! :cool: It's also cool that they included other features helpful for other tests, so it's an all in one testing area. :cool:

    I think Porsche or MB did something like this. They took at the best features of tracks around the world and put them into their own custom ring. :cool: I know they copied the famous corner from Laguna Seca. :mamoru:
     
  13. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    The Ring is cool because it is so long and technically demanding. Car companies make new test tracks all the time. Just because GM says they modeled after the Ring doesn't make it anything like the Ring. 12 turns huh? Holy shit that is just like Ring. Additionally, there isn't anything special or divine about the Ring, it's just a racetrack, you don't need to model a test track on it to make one that will help develop a car. This story = marketing.
     
  14. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    Sorry, how could I miss that? Well, point proven, it is every bit as good as the Nurburgring. BMW should move the 'Ring Taxi to Michigan. I can see it now, the hundreds of races they have at the 'Ring every year will be moved to the heart of the American automotive industry, just imagine: "The 24 hours of Milford."
     

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