Blog: Cars… Lots of Cars!
On our final leg of the Playstation Germany trip, we pay a visit to the Hockenheim racing circuit.
The Hockenheim racing circuit, about an hour’s drive from Stuttgart, is home to one of two Formula One grand prix events that take place alternately in Germany. Apart from Formula One, the track also plays host to DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), drag races as well as some high profile music events in the past, including Michael Jackson’s Bad World Tour and The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour.
Our first arrival at the circuit was on Saturday 30th April to catch some of the qualifying and practice sessions of the DTM and the Formula 3 races. Since it was a practice day, it wasn’t very heavily crowded, which was great as we got a chance to wander about the race village a get a look at some of the cars and teams that are participating in the various races being held.
As guests of Mercedes-Benz, we had access to their VIP lounge reserved for team principals, drivers and sponsors. The lounge was also the location for TV interviews with the MB drivers in various race categories. So we got a glimpse of Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard, both former Formula One drivers now team mates in the DTM series.
On Sunday, the race village which extends around the circuit turned into a beehive of activity. As wisely suggested by our guide from AMG, we arrived at Hockenheim early in the day and managed to beat the crowds and traffic that were about to descend upon the venue.
Our first stop of the day was the Mercedes-Benz Experience area where a special track was set up to showcase the abilities of the Mercedes-Benz C-class on road and the off-road muscle of the G-class. We didn’t have to queue very long before we got a chance to get into a new generation C350 piloted by one of the expert drivers from Mercedes-Benz.
For the next five minutes, our driver took us through a myriad of driving situations ranging from fast lane changes, to high speed cornering and wet road stability. As the owner of a C350 myself, I was amazed by what my car could do. If only I had the skill (and nerve) to do it. Our driver made it all look quite easy – a great way to start the day though.
Since it was still early in the day, we swung by the VIP lounge to grab some coffee and some breakfast. While there, Bernd Schneider (4-time DTM champion) came by for an interview while David Coulthard worked his way through some coffee.
Ahmed and I had a chance to talk more about video game racing and his passion for them. I don’t believe I’ve met a person who swears by Gran Turismo as much. I would not be too far off the mark if I said that I was talking to Gran Turismo’s biggest fan in the Middle East. He prefers it because unlike most other racing games on the market, it is a near perfect simulation of each of the cars in the game. As the owner of a Nissan 370Z and previously a Nissan 350Z, a Honda CRX and a Mitsubishi 3000GT, Ahmad seems to have racing in his DNA.
Back out in the race village, we went up to the top of the Mercedes Tribune stand which is probably the highest point from which to view the race and also has a view of two of the best corners on the track. Between two events, Mercedes-Benz brought some of their AMG production vehicles as well as race cars onto the track as well as a classic SL that swung wildly around compared to the heavily kitted cars of today.
As our day drew to an end, on our way to Stuttgart airport, we reminisced about some of the best moments of the trip – the fantastic lay out of the museum, the journey through the history of automobiles and the way the AMG production line is organized.
Ahmed and I were still thinking about the flags of Kuwait and UAE flying at the Aafalterbach facility. AMG – RESPECT!
A big shout out to Mercedes-Benz and PlayStation Gulf for organizing the trip and taking care of everything except flying the planes.
Moral of the story: Play More Gran Turismo!!!