Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal

Longer than words we’re used to.
Longer than races we’re used to.
The literal translation is: Organizer, community—long distance, cup
Therefore a community organization of an endurance cup (cup meaning trophy/championship).

And with that done, we promise to keep the rest of the words short, using as many abbreviations and acronyms as possible.

Veranstaltergmeinschaft Langstreckenpokal, the VLN, has been associated with Nürburgring for decades, having contracts for their endurance championships set up and renewed time and time again. The future of the series of endurance races, however—ten events each year—will now operate under a Joint Venture in June 2016.

The new VLN Veranstaltungs and Vermarktungsgesellschaft—let’s call it VLN VV—will continue to host the events and further develop the championship, one which has been successful for 40 years.

To learn what you can expect if you were to attend an event, let’s glimpse a little history.

The VLN was founded in 1977 by a number of car clubs. Previously, clubs had run their own events on the Nürburgring: 3.5 to 6 hour races with about 150 cars and 400 drivers. But in 1977 the rules were unified and the races were made part of a series. Though the VLN series is closely associated with the 24 Hours Nürburgring—similar rules and mainly the same participants—it is no longer a part of that series.

As many as 200 touring cars and GT sportscars feature in four-hour races, and a six-hour race—all on the Nordschleife. Participants of VLN races range from amateurs in affordable small, road legal cars with rollcages and harnesses, to professional factory teams racing Group GT3 cars. Yes, the possibility exists that you can be more than a spectator, you could actually race.

The Cup has known various sponsors. For many years the races were informally known as the Veedol-Cup, and from 2001-2009, the series was named BF Goodrich Langstreckenmeistershaft, sorry, BFGLM.

Each VLN race is held as a one-day event and begins with a mandatory drivers’ briefing at 7:45; practice takes place from 8:30 to 10:00. Following a warmup lap behind safety cars, the first of three groups start the race at noon, followed by the other two a few minutes later, in time before the fastest cars complete their first lap in just over eight minutes. At some events, the schedule includes additional sprint races, mainly classic cars and a younger, less experienced crowd.

The six-hour race is considered the season’s highlight where two to four drivers per car are entered—in the other races a single driver can drive alone for four hours, or up to three individuals can form a team. And there is a wide age range; of note, in 1998, a 72 year old took part (Sir Jack Brabham).

Another highlight is the final race, the Münsterlandpokal, (the place Münster, and that word that means cup, ‘Pokal’) aka Schinkenrennen (Schinken means ham, and Rennen is race). Yes, the ham race! It’s true. Large pieces of prized ham (from Münsterland) are presented to class winners.

Most of the fans watch the race on the Nordschleife. Some good viewing points have to be ‘hiked’ to, and can be a kilometre away from the nearest main road. Easy to reach and always well attended are sections which include Breidscheid, Brünnchen, and Pflanzgarten—sorry there are no abbreviations for these. The great news is there is no cost to watch the race anywhere around the Nordschleife; it’s only in the grandstand seats, on the Grand Prix circuit of the Nürburgring, where you’ll pay 15 euros to spectate.

And what can enthusiasts expect to see?

A variety of cars compete at the same time during each race.
• The Series Cars division allows low cost vehicles.
• The Specials division involves pure race cars that may compete in other race series.
• The Cup division consists of cars that include the Porsche Carrera.
• The H division consists of cars made in 1996 and before.

2016’s remaining schedule is as follows: August 20, September 3 and 24, and October 8 and 22.

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