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A McLaren F1 and the Nürburgring

3 years ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


16 March 2021

It was a ridiculous brief, one which excited and terrified me in approximately equal measure. It was early in 1994 and my editor at Autocar had somehow discovered that McLaren had hired the ‘new’ Nürburgring to demonstrate the F1 supercar to prospective clients. He wanted me to go there, doorstep the event and get a ride in the car. Hijacking a secret test at a privately hired track for incredibly secretive multi-millionaires with the aim of getting in the most hotly anticipated car to be launched in my career to date? What could be easier?

I refused. I was the road test editor at the time, we’d be working with McLaren for a while trying to nail down an actual test in the car later in the year and all I could see coming from this clearly futile stunt was a few wasted days resulting in a cheesed off McLaren, our rivals getting that all important first test and many months hard work down the drain.

So the editor played his joker. ‘You can take the Porsche if you like.’ It was all he had to say to turn my robust rejection of his demonstrably stupid plan into grateful acceptance of what was clearly an idea of visionary genius. The Porsche was the 968 ClubSport he was running on Autocar’s long term fleet and, back then, just about my favourite car in the whole wide world. All I did insist was that someone told McLaren I was coming, which elicited a reply from the organisation along the lines of ‘well we can’t stop him, but he won’t get anywhere.’

So off I toddled across Europe on this fool’s errand. But I was happy enough: I was in the 968 and I was going to the ‘Ring for the very first time. I had a wad of Deutschmarks in my wallet and even if I didn’t get to see the F1, I’d sure as hell be driving home having completed my first laps of the old, proper Nürburgring. Which I duly did.

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