Nurburgring Times Don't Matter

We really need to look past this archaic measure to focus on the things that really matter, like driving enjoyment.

Porsche

Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely ecstatic that the 'Ring exists, it's a great place for racing (as last weekend's Nurburgring 24 hour race proved), and an even better place for car crazy folks to get a feel for what it's like to drive on a race circuit in their own cars. The fact that such an awe-inspiring place still exists in the litigious and protective society we live in is a grand monument to the allure of speed. We, as humans, enjoy the prospect of going mighty fast, and we appreciate watching other people go mighty fast as well. That speed, however, should not have any bearing on whether or not you spend your money with one manufacturer versus any other. 

Porsche's new GT3 is, by all accounts, an amazing car to drive. That car recently set a Nurburgring lap time of 7-minutes, 12.7 seconds. Back in 2003, Porsche's almighty V10-powered supercar, the one and only Carrera GT, set a time that was more than 16 seconds slower than today's Porsche sports car. So why do I, a pupil in the school of all things speed, find the Carrera GT to be orders of magnitude more exciting than the GT3? Could it be that there is more to a car than simply how quickly it can navigate a racing circuit? My own daily-driver 1976 Porsche 912E might possibly lap the Nurburgring with a time measured in hours, but I would much rather drive it (or a 356 Speedster, or any other iconic drivers car) than whatever new special edition Lamborghini, GT-R, or hybrid hypercar that holds the record this week. Perhaps if the record wasn't declared to be 'totally demolished' every 3 weeks, it would be a more impressive feat. 

The fact of the matter is, there are far too many variables at stake for any of these numbers to really impress me all that much. For starters, the circuit is over 12 miles in length, and it is nigh impossible to set a "perfect" lap with zero mistakes and no time lost. There are variables in the weather that affect lap times, variables in tire construction, variables in how the car was prepared, and variables in driver talent. Are you really willing to admit that you bought a car because someone else with more talent than you was able to drive a fast lap around a track you'll never go to, on tires you'll never buy, on the most perfect dry-but-still-cool day of the year, with special preparation from factory engineers? I can't help but wonder exactly how that relates to whether or not I'll enjoy the driving experience or not. On any given day, I'd rather drive something that I have fun in than a modern display of electronic wizardry that does all of the work for me. A run in the hills or even a track day event are not intended to be "won", so what do I care if my car is faster than anyone else's? Fast is fast, but is fast always fun?

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