There is no piece of personal property that a person can own that is as representative of a person’s personality and innate sense of style as one’s automobile. For many of us, what we drive is both the image that we would like to project the world, and an extension of who would like to be. For owners of so-called “supercars”, that image is one of unbridled success.
No matter what the nameplate on the car says Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Mosler if you are the owner of one of the supercars, you know with utter confidence that you possess one of the finest, most powerful, most awesome pieces of automotive technology ever designed by mortal hands. When a person is seen behind the wheel of any of this class of ultra high-performance luxury automobiles, the old adage of “work hard, play hard” comes to mind.
And make no mistake about it these beauties are fun to drive. From the seductive purr when first started, to the deep throated growl when the accelerator is pressed, to the heady rush you get when you hit 60mph in about 2 1/2 seconds, to the almost-intuitive handling that responds to your slightest urging, every feature on a supercar was designed with one goal in mind. And that goal is to provide you with the most singularly euphoric driving experience possible.
The problem that arises, however, is just where exactly that driving experience is to take place. Not every highway or byway can offer a route that will do your car any real justice. To truly put this exquisite piece of machinery through the proper paces, you’ll need just exactly the perfect stretch of roadway. Only then will you have a true sense of what your car can truly do.
Nurburgring North (Germany)
Located around the village of Nurburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, this motor speedway has been host to international racing events for almost one hundred years. It has hosted both Formula One racing and Grand Prix events. The largest annual event, which can draw almost 300,000 fans, is an endurance race called the Nurburgring 24-hour Race, which features over 200 cars and over 800 drivers, up to four to a team.
There are several different circuits on “the Ring”, and one of them, on the old North Loop, was named “the Green Hell”, because it is one of the most dangerous and demanding racing circuits in the entire world. Over the years, the Ring has claimed over 200 lives.
While most racing enthusiasts are familiar with Nurburgring North, what they may not know is that the track has one circuit, the Nordschleife, which has been open to the public since its original construction back in 1927. Anyone with a street-legal vehicle of any sort – cars, motorcycles, tour buses, vehicles with trailers, and even recreational vehicles such as motor homes – can gain access to the track to measure their driving prowess on a real racing circuit.
When taking advantage of the “touristenfahrten”, amateur drivers can experience this historic and challenging racing circuit without fear of oncoming traffic, intersections, or even a blanket speed limit for the whole course. Drivers who feel that they are up to the challenge can actually compare their performance to professional drivers who use the track to judge the performance of stock touring cars from different auto manufacturers. The track for the public is generally only open on Sundays, because during the week, the “industriefahrten” takes place as automakers try to prove the mettle of their cars in front of assembled media personnel. The Nordschleife circuit is used as a standard by automakers in which they report their lap times using standard production vehicles.
The circuit itself has a generous length of almost 13 miles, or almost 21 kilometers, but and is built around the town and castle of Nuremberg. Among its particular challenges are elevation changes of over 1000 feet, and 154 turns.
Stelvio Pass (Italy)
Is there any more automotive image that is more iconic than a zippy little Italian sports car flying down a winding mountain road? If you just so happen to be the owner of a supercar-class Italian sports car, you can live the fantasy and be part of that iconography.
Stelvio Pass is located in Italy, in the Ortler Alps between South Tyrol and Bormio, less than 200 m from the Swiss border. A peak above the pass is nicknamed “the three languages peak”, because it is the intersection of Italian, German, and Romansh.
This pass has the distinction of being the highest paved road surface in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the entire Alps, located a majestic 9045 feet (2757 m) above sea level. It is not an overstatement to say that the scenery along this route will take your breath away.
The drive itself is full of challenges that will keep you on your toes and make you appreciative of the power and performance of the vehicle you’re driving. The length is of the road is almost thirteen and a half miles (21.5 km), but the real white-knuckle part of the drive is a long and winding change in elevation of over 4500 feet (1500 m) in a dizzying radiator climb with 60 hairpin turns.
On the premiere episode of their 10th season, British television show Top Gear, rated this pass as the greatest driving road in the world, capable of fulfilling every petrol head’s fantasies.
It is not a slur against the entire nation of America to say that the majority of superior driving roads, the ones that will test both your mettle and your machine, are located primarily in Europe. Little things like castles, iconic mountain ranges, and the lack of a speed limit on some roadways definitely tilted the scales in Europe’s favor.
This is not to say that the United States doesn’t have its own entrants bidding for the title of “World’s Greatest Driving Road”.
California Route 25
There is a 50 mile stretch of road in California that leads northwest from San Lucas, skirting Pinnacles National Park, finally arriving in Pacifies. This is the road where Porsche tests their performance cars. One advantage to this route is the lack of an abundance of traffic. It is every supercar aficionado’s dream just you and an open stretch of road where you can really get a feel for what your car is truly capable of. Along the drive there is just enough scenery to make it interesting and just enough combinations of curves to keep you alert. If you are looking for one section of road to learn why a supercar deserves that title, this is the one.
However the real joy to owning an ultra-performance supercar is finding your own “greatest road”. This is something you are never going to find out with your car just sitting in the garage. Go on, the road is waiting.