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Donnerstag, 06. März 2014

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  • 10 Reasons why selling the Nürburgring is a bad idea.

    Before I start, some introduction in case you don’t know me: I grew up at the Nürburgring, drove it with motorcycle many years both with Jahreskarte and racing licence (including some Adenau hospital visits …), run 20832.com since 2000, introduced the red-white N logo and initiated Save The Ring over 3 years ago.

    I am not involved in any commercial activities at the Ring - which is important to take into account when you read other people’s opinion. In fact you can’t buy any services from me.

    I am however a big fan of Nordschleife, the track, the history, the Eifel area, the people, the racing - everything. I have been protesting against the Leisure Park, when it still was in planning phase, I protested against it, when they were building it, I protested against the Lindner/Richter lease contract (Richter even sued me and my forum, which made me close it for a year) and now I’m protesting against the sale of the tracks.

    So why is it a bad idea to sell Nürburgring?

    1.) Public ownership becomes private ownership.

    Never before in it’s nearly 90 years history has the Nürburgring been in private ownership. Funding came from the public in the first place and it was the tax payer who kept it running.

    2.) Non-profit vs profit oriented.

    As a typical non-profit oriented company in public ownership, the Nürburgring has never been forced to make profits. Mis-management led to losses, but the setup originally allowed for maintenance and investment from the funds earned. This all will change dramatically, when a private company starts to satisfy investors. 20% have been mentioned by papers, which equates to an additional 20 million profit, in case it’s sold for 100 million Euro. Clearly this is impossible in the long run and would only destroy the available assets. You have two options to achieve that: raise prices or drive down maintenance. My guess is both.

    3.) Public company vs private company.

    The Nordschleife is located right in the middle of a nature reserve. Due to its size no less than 4 villages are located within the track. This has never been a big problem when operated by the government: one department talked to the other. Once in private hands this will all be different and confrontations are ligning up already, ranging from environmental complications to noice complaints.

    4.) Benefit for the region vs benefit for a company

    During the Richter/Lindner era (May 2010 - Nov 2012) we got some taste what a private-run Nürburgring means for the small businesses: step-by-step all services, which softly grew over decades, got absorbed by them and with the power of tracktime customers have been forced to their offers. No matter the quality. These guys only rented the Ring, imagine what an owner is able to do. You see many closed shops in Adenau already today, this will only get worse, when they are exluded from participations at the Ring’s businesses.

    5.) Tourist Drives

    Very sensitive subject. People tend to tell me nobody would stop something which earns money. Richter/Linder pushed the traffic to the max, ignoring all risks involved. However, their greed was short term. For a new owner several problems are just around the corner: risk obviously is a big one and it’s a different game for a private company compared to the government. How many tracks do you know, which offer tourist drives the relaxed way the Ring does? None? How come these tracks don’t do it, if it’s such a cash cow? Compare this to a posh VIP track day, 20 people with their Ferraris etc., 5k each. No traffic, no risk, no work, 100k a day. Complete no brainer if you ask me.

    6.) Grass root motorsport

    This is what the Ring is all about, the ladder from tourist drives via GLP, RCN, VLN up to the big 24 Hours race. The races are already at risk now with the prices driven up in the last years, don’t be suprised when that all collapses.

    7.) Heritage

    The cultural heritage of the Nordschleife needs to be preserved for generations to come. It’s without comparison in the world deserves special protection. Once in private hands the public has no vote anymore and the new owner is allowed to change everything.

    8.) Non-reversable

    Once the sale is done, it’s done for good. But there is no need for the government to act that fast, in fact there are many more options than just selling. Insolvency administration claims they make profits - so why not perserve Nürburgring GmbH and save it, rather than sell it as quickly as possible?

    9.) European Commission

    Even the insolvency administration states that the sale is only valid after the state-aid investigation has come to a close by the European Commission. Which means the buyer signs a contract, that only comes into effect after that decision. Why not better use the time to evaluate options and find a solution everybody can live with?

    10.) Ja-zum-Nürburgring with Otto Flimm.

    Otto Flimm doesn’t get tired to fight the sale and keeps pushing for a good solution. He declared already to call the European Court of Justice in case the sale goes through. More years on uncertainty in the pipeline, which help nobody - and which can be avoided easily!

    So what would be a viable solution? It’s pretty easy really: a non-profit oriented operation of the race tracks, sale of hotels and leisure park to the highes bidder - and everybody - Ring, region, motorsport - would be able to race into a great future.

    Save The Ring!

    UPDATE:

    Many thanks to Jalopnik, who reposted this on March 7th.

    Tags: SaveTheRing | English

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