A single lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife race track is said to be equivalent to 2,000 km traveled on normal roads. A perfect place to further refine the performance and design of the Lexus LC
The Rhine: this vast river starts in the Alps in eastern Switzerland and flows north through Germany and central Europe to the North Sea. Since Roman times, the river has played a vital role in connecting central Europe.
The Nürburgring: extraordinarily long with curves undulating left to right, the track’s contours resemble the course of a vast river. Considered to be the world’s most grueling racing circuit, Nürburgring has played a part in cultivating the culture and technology of the automobile for over half a century.
These two magnificent “rivers” are backdrops for ceaseless evolution. Navigating these routes is the Lexus LC 500 road car, kindred to the Lexus LC race car contending in the Nürburgring circuit.
The excursion to the Nürburgring begins in Mainz, birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg – father of the printing press. The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz possesses two of the 49 Gutenberg bibles still in existence. In a glass case in the gently-lit exhibition rooms, stylish letters line the bible’s pages, each paragraph neatly composed of 42 lines of text.
Museum curator Professor Elke Schutt-Kehm remarks, “Gutenberg’s invention paved the way for the Reformation, has helped accelerate the growth of natural science and of theology; the printing press has changed the world.”
The drive continues along the Rhine, offering views of Rudesheim, Koblenz, and other idyllic landscapes. Rolling hills enclose the road on both sides, while ancient castles dot the mountain ridges in the distance.
We continue to Cologne to meet up-and-coming calligraphy artist Agnete Sabbagh. Her works unify illustration with calligraphic renditions of the German font Fraktur, a style of lettering known for its commanding and sturdy design.
Next, we head north on the Autobahn; a road that represents Germany’s car culture and its dedication to automobile technology. In this speed-limit-free zone, the Lexus transports us beyond 200 km/h – the LC’s V8 unit releasing a euphonious roar.
Descending from the Autobahn and returning to the country roads, Nürburg Castle comes to view on a low hill in the distance, looking down on the circuit below.
Enshrined deep in the forest of Northwest Germany, the Nürburgring circuit is home to two courses: the 4.5 km Grand-Prix track and the 20-kilometer-long Nordschleife track. Nürburgring’s 24-hour race unfolds across both raceways, with a single lap spanning over 25 kilometers.
Architects are said to have used the Targa Florio – a mountain road in Sicily – as a reference in designing the racetrack. The span between the highest and lowest elevation in the track extends over 300 meters. From the cross-sloped, mortar-shaped corners to the super high-speed S-section, the track features a colorful array of curves and turns.
The road provides one thrilling moment after another – a jumping spot renders the car weightless with a high-speed blind-corner lying in wait ahead. A single lap around the course is said to apply as much stress as 2,000 km traveled on a typical road. Illustrious, three-time F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart once called the track a “green hell”.
“I’ve raced hundreds, thousands, of laps in my career – and here the corners are particularly treacherous. When your hand is on that steering wheel, you’re in a continuous state of terror.”
The LC model’s participation in this 24-hour gauntlet onward from 2018 is strategic – a part of the process to further sophisticate the car’s performance and design.
Lexus enters the Nürburgring 24-hour race with their LC model. Chief mechanic Toshiyuki Sekitani made improvements to the car’s weight distribution and center of gravity while revamping aerodynamic devices to improve downforce.
From the very beginning, the finals are ripe with tumult, but the Lexus LC races through the laps with little trouble. At around 10 pm the sun sets and the LC ascends to 27th place.
In a sudden turn of events, as the LC pulls into the pit, engineers discover oil leaking from the transmission. A quick transmission replacement and the Lexus LC returns to the track, gradually ascending the ranks. The car continues its smooth progression past dawn, until the checkered flag waves at the 133rd lap. The LC has conquered its second consecutive 24-hour race, clearing the SP-PRO class ranking in first place and 54th overall.
“We beat our best time for the finals race, and all while surviving the crucible that is the Nürburgring, the LC showed peak performance. I’m very satisfied with the result. I hope to get back out here again next year and bring the LC to greater heights,” reflects Nakayama.
Part of this journey along the Rhine was witnessing the cycle of growth – new technologies replace the old, with human agency guiding this continuous evolution.
Whether electrification, self-driving automobiles or other technologies, the automotive industry faces similar change. The Lexus team takes up the gauntlet to galvanize their own evolution, tirelessly dedicating themselves to sophisticate the automobile’s most essential functions.