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Why Do We Watch Nurburgring Lap Times?

Bill Wilson

Hybrid-haters take note: a hybrid just set an all-time production speed record on the Nurburgring, blowing away the past champion by a full 15 seconds. The car pulling off this amazing feat was none other than the Porsche 918 Spyder.

As astounding as this accomplishment is, it raises a bigger question: who cares? What that Porsche did on that twisting mountain track will never make it into the official record books. Yet, our eyes widen when we read stories like this. What does that say about us? Why do we “watch the Nurburgring?”

While none of us here at BoldRide are psychologists, we have given these questions some thought. The simple answer is that it has unofficially become a control in the great experiment of the automotive game. There is no official race organizer of any sort to validate the numbers, but everyone compares their times. We think there is more to it than this. So, here’s our take on it:

Pagani Zonda R

Wish fulfillment

The majority of us obey traffic laws, at least most of the time. And that’s the way it should be. No one wants the streets of his home town turned into a scene from The Road Warrior; not when there are school busses and families and little old ladies driving around. Still, our inner rebel yearns to floor the pedal and push that engine as hard as it will go. The drivers who take on the Nurburgring get to do just that. Sometimes we picture ourselves in their shoes.

The Prometheus Thing

In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus brought fire to humanity. In doing so, he defied the gods, who wanted our species to stay huddled in caves and afraid of the dark. This myth points out the human drive to challenge our limitations, to go just a little further in our conquest of nature. The news from the Nurburgring speaks to that need. We see it as proof of what humanity can accomplish.

Porsche 918 Spyder

Flirting with the Reaper

We enjoy dancing with death, or watching others do so anyway. That’s why bull-fighting remains popular in Spain, because there’s always the chance the bull might win. It’s also why circuses have high-wire acts. We want the performer to succeed, but we also want to be on hand should he fail. Nothing expresses these primal urges more than seeing a guy go around a track at insanely high speeds. So we watch, just in case the unthinkable happens.

That’s our take on the subject. You’re free to disagree, of course. Thoughts?

RELATED: Porsche 918 Spyder, Fastest Production Car Around Nurburgring