There are a few books about the Ring, with brief reviews below.

If you've published a book on the Ring and would like me to review it, drop me an email for my address.

Kings of the Nürburgring is a history of the Ring told largely through the stories of 14 drivers who, Nixon argues, deserve the title 'Kings of the Ring'. Any such selection is going to be controversial, of course!

Coffee-booked sized and 305 pages, the book is a real treasure trove. Meticulously researched, it was Nixon's last book: he sadly died a few weeks after it was published.

The book is equally interesting to those who have an interest in the racing drivers and those whose interest is more Ring focused. There are countless fascinating snippits of info, and the race descriptions and historical photos combine to give a real sense of what the Ring was like back in its racing heyday.

I highly recommend the book. It costs £45, and is available from the publisher's website:

ISBN 0-85184-070-1.

Autodrome: The lost race circuits of Europe is a really great idea. It tells the story of nine Euopean racing circuits which are no longer in use. Each circuit has a chapter with a comprehensive if somewhat plodding history, period photos and - the real high point of the book - some absolutely breathtaking photos of the circuit as it is now.

The Südschleife is one of the chapters. The text is a little disappointing in that it isn't much more than a rather dry recitation of the history, with very little of the spirt conveyed in the way it is in Kings of the Ring.

The book has also really missed a trick in that it is of only limited assistance to those who would like to follow in the authors' footsteps and make pilgrimages to these tracks before the last remnants disappear forever as they surely will. What would have been great is to have detailed maps and photos showing exactly how to reach them and how to trace the path where the track has turned into a modern road. Although details are provided, they are a little sketchy and you've have to do some sitting down with maps to turn the descriptions into something you could use to plan your visit.

But the real selling point of this book in my eyes is Gavin Ireland's stunning contemporary photos. These are absolutely beautiful, and enough to justify the £35 purchase price in their own right.

Autodrome is published by Veloce:

ISBN 1-904788-31-9.

This self-published book is an interesting idea, using satellite photos to create a bend guide along the lines of the European Circuit Guide.

It attempts very detailed driving instructions through a series of symbols indicating approach speeds, acceleration, braking, etc. These are based on a theoretical lap in a DTM Evo II - all of these things will vary considerably depending on the power, handling and braking performance of the car, of course, but it provides an interesting benchmark.

The great advantage of using satellite photos is that you can be sure you're looking at the actual shape of the bend rather than someone's interpretation of it. Any regular visitor knows that the picture you get in your head from driving the track can be very different to the one you get when walking it, and different again from the actual satellite photos.

The drawback of the photos, however, is that they don't have the resolution to cope with the close-ups shown, most of them appearing quite blurry. This is most likely a combination of the limited resolution available in the original, and the printing process: the book uses, which is perfectly adequate for text, but not very good for photos, as can be seen in the reproduction quality of the trackside photos included.

The biggest drawback of the book, however, is that it does not show the Ideal-line. This is the line which you would normally want to use for tourist driving, as it is the fastest, smoothest and safest one.

What is shown instead appears to be the fighting line, the one used in races to make it difficult for other drivers to overtake you. This is a very different line, and definitely not the recommended one for non-competitive driving - or even competitive driving when there's no-one you need to block.

Let's take Eiskurve as an example. Here's the line shown in the book:

Here, in contrast, is the Ideal-line shown in the European Circuit Guide:

You can see that the Enthusiast's Bend Guide has us approaching the bend on completely the wrong side of the track, making the entry much tighter and slower than it should be.

Indeed, for those new to the Ring, the line shown in the book is very often positively dangerous. Look at Adenaur-Forst, for example:

The approach shown there is the classic 'first lap AF off' line! The correct line is all the way to the right, then a very late and tight turn-in.

Another example - Wehrseifen:

Again, what is shown is the fighting line - a line which is very likely to put a newbie into the tyre-wall. In contrast, the Ideal-line shown in the European Circuit Guide:

The European Circuit Guide isn't perfect. You can see from the above comparison of drawing and satellite photo that the ECG is representative of the subjective impression you get from driving the circuit, rather than faithful to the true bend-shape. I would also say the line isn't quite detailed enough, as the actual line there involves a straight line while the track bends slightly away from us and back in, with a slightly later turn-in than shown. The perfect solution would be extremely high-res satellite mapping with the Ideal-line shown in even greater detail.

But until that comes along, I would say the European Circuit Guide is the one to buy. If the photos in the Enthusiast's Bend Guide were higher-resolution, it might make a nice coffee-table book. As it is, unfortunately I would have to say that it fails in both roles.

Update: The author has revised some of the lines, but it's still a mix of the tourist and fighting lines, and the resolution still isn't really up to the job it attempts to do.

Rob Semmeling recommends a Behrndt/Födisch picture book with dual-text, in both English and German. The English title is A heavenly weekend at the Green Hell. I haven't yet received a review copy so don't know what it's like.

If you read German, check out the comprehensive list of Ring books at Rob's site:

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