Watch a Massive 38,000-LB Tractor Flex All of Its 500 HP to Set a Nürburgring Lap Record
This tractor lapped the Green Hell in less than half the time it took a Porsche! (The Porsche Junior tractor, that is.)
The Nürburgring's infamously difficult Nordschleife course is where the world's fastest vehicles go to prove it. The 12.9-mile loop through the Eifel Mountains can take a lifetime to master, and many claim that you never really do.
Close walls. Steep hills. Blind corners. That one parking lot-adjacent section where everyone shows off (and doesn't always make it) for YouTube. That's why I'm enamored with the Claas Xerion 5000 VC, the new Nürburgring record holder...for a tractor.
[Note: There are English subtitles if you need them.]
Auto Motor und Sport put racing driver Christian Menzel behind the most powerful tractor sold in Germany, the Claas Xerion 5000 VC. The "VC" stands for "Variable Cab," which they show off by turning the cab completely around in the opposite direction before setting off for the lap record. Its 12.8-liter six-cylinder engine produces over 500 horsepower and 1,918 pound-feet of torque.
Sure, it weighs 38,470 pounds according to Claas—enough to set Menzel off on a brief balance of performance rant as every sports car racer on earth is prone to do—but who's counting? With a top speed of just over 31 mph, I don't think he'll be competing with GT3 race cars with this one.
"Acceleration (0-50 km / h): Yes," Auto Motor und Sport wrote in the video description.
This is a serious lap record, so they posted the entire thing to quell most doubts, albeit not as one continuous in-tractor feed. I'm sure we'll still get the usual internet debate until AMuS gives into internet pressure and posts that.
Menzel plays it by the rules, keeping the racing line and resisting the urge to straight-line Adenauer Forst through the grass. An especially bumpy ride through the Karussell gets a cry of "Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein!" He even exceeds the top speed on a downhill section, reaching an absolutely mind-blowing 36 mph.
The final lap time? 24 minutes and 50.57 seconds. That's an absolutely blistering speed right there, especially if your shoes are a bit loose in that bouncing cabin. It is safe to call the Claas Xerion 5000 VC the Porsche 919 Hybrid of tractors now. After all, both are available as Lego sets. It even beat the Tuk Tuk's lap time!
New 'Ring tractor lap record holder Christian Menzel is no stranger to the marque that holds the all-time overall Nürburgring record. His family owned a two-cylinder, 25-hp Porsche Standard tractor, which he said he started driving at eight or nine years old.
Auto Bild sent a Porsche Junior tractor around the Nürburgring in 2014 with racing legend Walter Röhrl behind the wheel, and needless to say, this 500-hp Claas put the Junior's 14 hp to shame, lapping in less than half the Porsche's lap time of one hour, five minutes and 36 seconds.
Both the Claas and the Porsche set off from the tourist drive entrance just outside Nürburg, so it's safe to say that this is the official tractor lap record start and endpoint.
The only tractor to go faster was being towed behind a Porsche Panamera, and that really doesn't count.
Perhaps I need to buy back my parents' old John Deere lawnmower, ship it over and show everyone what a speedy eighties lightweight can do. After all, that 1983 Porsche 956C held the record for 35 years, and the vehicle I learned to drive on should be just as formidable a contender. I could even keep the speed lever set to full-"rabbit!" (I think I'd have to in order to make it up the hill after Breidscheid.)
[H/T Road & Track!]
Correction: August 29, 2020, 5:42 a.m. ET: The original version of this article converted Auto Motor und Sport's weight figure in kilograms for the tractor into pounds. This has since been amended with information already in pounds straight from Claas of America's brochure.
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