The Nurburgring is the Mecca of the automotive world, and as of this month, it’s for sale. After going bankrupt last July, a state-appointed liquidator was appointed to sell the government-owned motorsports complex. Of an initial 50 interested buyers, no more than ten are still haggling over an asking price of roughly $161 million. News of the impending sale is leading auto enthusiasts throughout the world to fear a privatized Nurburgring will put a price tag on the track’s culture.
In an interview with bridgetogantry.com, Save The Ring creator, Mike Frison warned selling the Nurburgring could bring an end to an era that began in the 1920’s.
“The highest bidder buys the ‘Ring and maximizes his profits to justify the investment. Grassroots motorsport will disappear (it’s not earning real money) as well as local companies. Their services will be routed through the new ‘Ring owner’s monopoly,” he said. “We have seen clear tendency of that in the Richter/Lindner era over the last two years. Accessibility and track time will only be a question of money. All events we know today are at risk, especially the tourist drives, which are an old dinosaur from the past. From day one to be precise, and it would be such a loss. You couldn’t blame a private host to turn away from that, but for the atmosphere and the region it would be a disaster.”
Along with a Formula 1-spec Grand Prix circuit, the Nurburgring sale would include the complex hotels, amusement rides, restaurants, museum and other exhibits that draw thousands of tourists each year. Considering the business framework already in place, the ring’s $161 million asking price could prove to be a bargain for any business person willing to cut costs and maximize profit.
Autoblog agrees with speculation that any private company that purchases the complex would likely do away with the public drives and grass-roots motorsports events the track is known for:
“While those two activities make the Nürburgring an icon the world over, they don’t rake in cash.”
Here lies the rub. A government-funded racing complex that’s unprofitable for many of the reasons that make it special isn’t going to last long as public domain. Bridge to Gantry reports:
“There’s no way the government can hang on to something like the ‘Ring. The EU (European Union) are all over it. From the EU’s point of view, the German government has been caught red-handed spending taxpayers’ money on a private project to the benefit of only a handful of ‘businessmen’. Domestically the Nürburgring is competing with other circuits like Oschersleben, Hockenheim and Lausitzring. Within the EU it’s butting heads with greats like Le Mans, Silverstone and Monza. When Government-owned businesses are competing against the private industry, it all has to be above board and 100% transparent. The only thing clear about the Nürburgring in the last few years is that it’s swallowed over 400 million euros of taxpayers’ money.”
“They are going to sell it. They’re going to wipe their hands of the whole sorry mess, take a paltry cash sum… and by doing that they’re going to throw the whole region to the wolves of independent capitalism.”