Nürburgring Vehicle Modifications, Ranked
The 12.9-mile Nürburgring in Germany is one of the world’s most demanding tracks. Sure, you can take any car on the track, even your camper van if you want. But to wring the most our of your time on the ’ring, you’ll want to make some modifications to your vehicle. While this list applies to more tracks than just the Nürburgring, know that this was made with the help of driving instructor Christoph Koch of RSR Nurburg, a company that offers rental cars to be driven on the ‘ring at the track, someone who has a lot of experience at the ‘ring and knows where and how the stock setup on most cars fall short. As such, this list, ordered by “must do” to “should do” is tailored specifically to the unique challenges of the ’ring.
Your tires are ultimately the only part of your car that actually touches the road. As such, any performance modifications that you make otherwise are only as useful as the quality of tires you have on your car. Added power, suspension upgrades, and even brake upgrades are all diminished if you don’t have a decent set of rubber. Tires such as a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports, Pilot Sport 4S, or even Sport Cup 2, will provide your car with the grip it needs to ensure that you are making the most of your other mods. Hence, why this mod should be the first thing you do.
2: Brake System
Brake upgrades ensure that you have confident stopping power for the full 12.9-mile lap. This track is full of downhill corners and long braking zones that require brakes that won’t fade or worse, boil and warp. Swapping in ventilated brake rotors and performance brake pads are a small price to pay to avoid a crash from overcooked brakes. When asked what mods are done to all of RSR Nürburg’s cars before they go on the track, driving instructor Christoph Koch said that new tires and brakes are the first two upgrades done to every single one of their cars. Not power, not suspension, just tires and brakes.
3: Adjustable Suspension
While tires and brakes are the two ‘must-do’ modifications according to RSR Nürburg, there’s more you can do to boost performance. I asked Chris what mods he would recommend after brakes and tires. A fully adjustable suspension, he said. Here’s why: The Nürburgring is a road course. This means that the surfaces are variable and in many cases extremely bumpy. One of the main reasons that automakers test here so frequently is because the track provides a wrenching test of a vehicle’s suspension. Their thinking is that if a car handles well on the Nürburgring, it will handle well on any track.
Getting the car’s suspension is set up correctly will help cars soak up all the bumps, while mitigating body roll at the same time. Suspension that is too stiff will allow the car to get upset by the track’s bumps, while one that is too soft will allow for too much body roll, which is not desirable. Having suspension that you can tune to the harsh nature of the track will allow you to make even better use of the car’s chassis, and therefore its power.
4: Bucket Seats with 5-Point Harness and Full Roll Cage
There are a few reasons that you would want to make the switch out the stock bucket seats for racing seats and weld in a racing cage, but none more important thatn safety. This track is incredibly dangerous, as Niki Lauda, the retired Formula1 driver who famously crashed on the ‘ring and countless others will be very quick to tell you. So, in case you do get in a crash, it would be really nice to have the extra protection around you to so you don’t get crushed by your car.
Of course, roll cages also have the added benefit of torsional rigidity that helps to improve handling. Bucket seats with racing harnesses, while great for providing ample bolstering, are also much safer than many stock seats. Additionally, they are much lighter, helping improve performance by lightening the car in addition to their safety benefits.
Adding aerodynamic modifications such as an adjustable rear spoiler or front splitter will help push your car into the ground and increase grip. Unlike some mods, this one requires a bit more work than simply bolting on a part. Aero, like adjustable suspension, needs to be tuned to the track and car. Adjustable spoilers usually come bolted in place by a series of fasteners which can be loosened, allowing the spoiler to change its angle of attack slightly. A steeper angle will help to produce more downforce and drag. You want to find a balance where the car is receiving the extra downforce and therefore grip necessary to increase cornering speed, while also being shallow enough to minimize the added drag on the car. Factors to consider when adjusting a spoiler include top speed, acceleration, and track layout. If the track has a lot of long straights, you will want to minimize drag as much as possible, so that you can achieve a higher top speed. Tracks with more corners will need cars that can corner faster, so extra downforce is needed. Since you can’t max out the speed very well on these tracks anyways, you might as well have the extra drag and downforce to help you corner as fast as possible.