The Green Hell – new film celebrates legendary F1 venue, the Nürburgring
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Nürburgring Nordschleife
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  15 Feb 2017   |  8:13 pm GMT  |  46 comments

A new film celebrating the history of German Formula 1 venue the Nürburgring will be screened for one night only next week.

The film, called “The Green Hell” after the nickname given to the 73-turn, 20.832km Nordschleife circuit in the Eifel Mountains by Sir Jackie Stewart, is a feature-length documentary that chronologically explains the history of the track and combines previously unseen footage with interviews from past and present F1 drivers.

Directed by Austrian director, writer, producer and film composer Hannes Michael Schalle, The Green Hell features interviews with Sir Stirling Moss, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Stewart, Jochen Mass and Lewis Hamilton, and is narrated by Murray Walker and Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft. It will be shown in selected Odeon cinemas across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria on 21 February.

Schalle previously directed the Niki Lauda documentary, ‘Lauda – The Untold Story’, and that project inspired him to tell the stories behind the history of the Nürburgring.

“When I did the film about Niki Lauda I was extremely involved in the Nürburgring topic,” he told JA on F1. “We started to immediately think about making another film only about the track because it’s a 90-year-old racetrack envisioned at the beginning of the 20th century by the old German Emperor – this is a story in itself and the whole story over the 90 years was very inspiring.”

The Nürburgring’s motor racing history stretches back to 1926, and the Nordschleife was a regular feature on the F1 world championship calendar between 1951 and 1976. Triple world champion and current Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda nearly died in an accident during the 1976 grand prix event, which led to the track dropping off the F1 calendar.

Niki Lauda

An extended interview with 67-year-old is included in the new film and Schalle highlights the emotions that are brought out in the famously no-nonsense Lauda when it comes to his relationship with the Nürburgring and the circumstances surrounding his crash.

“It is very important that no racer ever saw the Nürburgring as only a race track,” explains Schalle. “They always saw it as an enemy, a partner, a monster – and Niki Lauda was very important for the story because he always loved and hated the ‘Ring.

“The interview he gave was actually very emotional for a very pragmatic man – he’s not really very engaging [in general], but he is very emotional when it comes to 1 August 1976 [the day of his German GP accident].”

Niki Lauda driving for Ferrari in 1976

The Green Hell also features interviews with drivers from various motorsport categories and eras of history who recall and describe the challenges of driving on the fearsome Nordschleife circuit.

“They always told me the same [thing],” says Schalle. “First of all it’s enormously long – a normal racetrack you drive in one-and-a-half or two minutes and this racetrack you drive between seven, eight and nine minutes.

“You don’t have 50 laps to go, but you have seven laps to go. It goes up and down and there is no visibility because the trees are all around the track. If you start at the grid in sunshine it could rain on the other side. When we filmed there – the first two days it was almost snowing and the next two days it had 30-degree heat and sunshine. This is an extreme climatic area.”

Under threat: the future of the German Grand Prix

The release of The Green Hell comes at a difficult time for the German Grand Prix, which has been held at the Nürburgring on 26 occasions – 22 times on the Nordschleife and a further four times on the Grand Prix layout that was opened in 1984. The GP circuit also hosted 12 F1 races as the European Grand Prix.


The German race was due to be held on the GP version of the Nürburgring in 2017 as part of an agreement with the Hockenheim circuit to hold the event on alternate years, but although it was provisionally listed on the calendar it was officially removed from the final version.

Liberty Media’s recent takeover of F1 has raised hopes that the American company will maintain the links with championship’s historical venues. But after the owners of several circuits recently questioned if their tracks will remain on the calendar in the coming years, it is unclear what can be done to help the venues currently facing difficulties.

Schalle believes that securing the future of the German Grand Prix should be a priority for Liberty Media because of the event’s history and the popularity of the Nordschleife, a place of pilgrimage for many motorsport fans and petrolhead enthusiasts.

Nürburgring Nordschleife

“The interesting thing is what the new owners of F1 will do,” he said. “For my opinion they have to bring it back to Germany because the German motor industry is one of the biggest in the world. It’s a leading industry and it would be completely wrong for the fans if there is no Formula 1 race in Germany.

“Especially at the Nürburgring, because it is the biggest mythical place and they have millions of visitors every year and it is known everywhere in the world.”

Bill Lewis, the film’s executive producer also described the popularity of the Nürburgring and he explained how its legendary status appealed to car fans of various ages.

He said: “In terms of age-groups, it’s not just an older generation or the baby boomers or anything else. If you go there on a continuous basis it’s young and old alike – everyone is there because it is what it is.”

Sport, nature and human endeavour

The Green Hell is the first in a series of films about famous motorsport circuits and events – Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, Le Mans and the Mille Miglia are all planned to get the same treatment by Moonlake Entertainment, Schalle’s production company, and Wentworth Arts and Media, Lewis’ distributers.

Nürburgring Nordschleife

Nick Heidfeld drives a BMW-Sauber F1 car on the Nordschleife in 2007

But for Schalle, the first film is about highlighting the sense of human achievement that is encapsulated by the Nürburgring, from its builders and the racers, to the modern automotive giants – including Aston Martin, Audi and Porsche – who have built technology centres within a few miles of the circuit to test their latest designs.

“I think the most important thing in the film is about human achievement – the people that built the ‘Ring, the people who raced the ‘Ring, the people who survived the ‘Ring, and that it is still there,” he said.

“People will see the history, they will see the biggest racing legend and the most famous cars. They will see the story about a battleground – the ‘Ring was built on blood-soaked ground from battles which happened there in the medieval times – and nowadays it is the biggest test track for every motorsport car in the world.”

Lewis wants viewers of The Green Hell to compare the Nordschleife with modern F1 layouts and see how its natural characteristics created its legendary status.

Nürburgring Nordschleife

“Historically motor racing has always been about man, machine and nature,” he explained. “A lot of the tracks that have been built recently in the last ten or 15 years that we can’t classify as nature.

“Even today you can talk about technology – are the drivers playing video games when they’re in the car or is it really men and machine with a big focus on the technology. The Nordschleife is about true nature – it’s an unbelievable driving experience.”

What do you make of the news that a film will be released to celebrate the history of the Nurburgring? Do you hope the German Grand Prix will re-join the calendar in the future? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

To find out more about The Green Hell and to view the trailer, go to

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so…where can we buy the dvd?


What is the age demographic here on this JA-forum?
Just wondering why only 25 posters or so appear to have an opinion about F1 and the Nürburgring. Many might be too young to ever have seen/experienced F1 on the Nordschleife?


I’ve just seen the film, wide screen, and a mixture of archive film and newly-shot HD Video, all neatly interwoven into a most interesting documentary

For me, the archive film shots were more exciting than the latest HD inserts of cars racing on the track, and I’m talking technical here. Modern video cameras have extremely short frame rates to get the sharpest moving pictures, whereas old footage, both film and TV, have maximum frame rates which means motion blur. Thus for shots where cameras follow cars against a moving background, old footage will blur the background whereas modern cameras show background motion as multiple “stills” – in real life, eyes would show motion blur, and for me this is a more natural experience and gives me a greater sensation of speed

Can modern technology give us the best of both worlds? I think so. If a professional camera can record a frame exposure of 1/4000th of a second, why limit it to 50 times a second? Electronically capture this frame rate up to 4000 times a second and compute the motion blur, but keep 50 1/4000th frames for slo-motion playback of an incident with full sharpness

I wonder if Liberty Media would be willing to consider this?


the green hell is being shown on tuesday and wednesday at the panton street odeon in leicester square.


My oldest daughter really hopes that in 2017 the Nürburgring is happening again, not for racing but for the famous ‘Rock am Ring’ concerts 😉
I did the Nürburgring several times before i married with my old NSU TTS. I trained for it on the old Schottenring just few miles away. It was one of the oldest german race tracks, with more hills, narrower curves and more forests than the green hell.
It was closed for racing after several deaths and the LeMans disaster opening the eyes of the politicians for race savety.


Gee, I wonder when the 1st Tilke circuit movie will be released!


The World’s Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins … wasn’t that shot on a Tilke drone? I remember it featured a wide open space with no crowds.


It’s such a shame that we now design circuits to suit the demands of the cars, instead of designing cars to cope with a demanding circuit.

Just a side note, anyone who says the ring can’t be memorized just hasn’t done enough laps. Close my eyes, and I can easily do a full lap in my head. If I can do it based off a video game, someone like Sabine Schmitz can do it in real life no problem. I think the reason the older generations say it couldnt be memorized did so because they just had so few laps around the place – which elevates their achievements their even higher in my opinion. But there’s people out there who literally have thousands of hours lapping that place in sims (I’m not one, I’m maybe in the hundreds lol)….they have it memorized.


Totally agree – don’t understand why we cant have some more challenging tracks on the F1 calendar. That the drivers cant cope with longer track layouts [Mod] Alternatively, who wants ovals being the standard in F1?
Sabine has done 50-60,000 laps on the Nordschleife but you don’t need to do that many before you start to get the hang of it. ;o) I agree that doing some rounds on a racing game console/PC will help you a lot to prep. But once you go there once to try for real and you get hooked! I live at Spa, so 2 hours drive away from The Ring. Suggest you rent a car locally with full insurance even for the standard ‘Touristenfahrten’ you have on most Sundays and weekday evenings. Even the ‘low-end rentals’ like Suzuki Swift Sport or Renault Clio RS 200 gives you a fantastic experience, as they are equipped and adjusted to match the Ring. And when you have tried the Touristenfahrt, you can next sign up for ‘Trackday’ events, where you have unlimited laps and a max on how many drivers on track at any point of time.
And when you have done all you can, with sweaty hands etc, then go for a round in the Ring Taxi ! ;o)

Do I want F1 back to here? Yes absolutely!
If you can spend £200+million to build a boring Tilke-track, then you could upgrade the Ring for less to get it back in F1-shape. And granted, a few of the trees in green hell might have to be cut for safety on some of the most narrow passages… As in Monaco, one of the best circuits in my opinion, but not really because of the history. There is very little room for error. [Mod] and you’re in a wall/barrier. That makes the race very tense as a driver and as spectator.

[Please alter the tone of your comments or your posts will be automatically deleted – Mod]


I always thought the long Nurburgring has had well over 100 corners in its various versions whether it be the pre war or the current one? It certainly does according to most stats and fact files.


Thank you for bringing this to our attention Alex/James; wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. And yes, I would like to see a German GP on the calendar, along with a French GP – two countries that have made significant contributions to the history of motor racing.


Great venue but not for today F1. There should be a German GP for sure, but the tracks like new Nurburgring and new Hockenheim lack character, Germans have succesfully destroyed mythical place like Hockenheim. No wonder there is a huge drop in spectator numbers since there is no Michael and that venues struggle with outrageous hosting fees, hence very expensive tickets, for uninteresting races


When I think of Nurburgring I always think of a quote by Stirling Moss that went something like “You can remember all the corners, just the ones that can kill you.”


should b can’t, not can.


Will this also be available on DVD or netflix/amazon etc after the cinema release? There is no way any cinema near me will be showing this but i would really like to see it.


The distribution sucks. If you live in East Anglia the only option you have is Norwich. Utterly rubbish. Am I really doing to drive 72 miles just to go to the cinema to watch this film? No.

Sorry to be negative and for sure it’s not JAF1 fault, but a very poor choice of cinema partner if they can’t service a part of the country properly.


A complete dream, but imagine they went back to Nurburgring and used the standard track for the race, but for qualy they got the drivers to do a single lap of the Nordschleife one at a time in the format they had back in the 2000’s.

Virtual Safety Car speed limits for the sections that are too dangerous, and chased by a couple of Medical cars around the circuit so that if they have a crash they would be reached within a minute or two.


When I was 12, I got Irwin Stambler’s Great Moments in Auto Racing. One of the chapters was dedicated to Juan Manuel Fangio’s victory at the 1957 German Grand Prix, “one of the greatest victories in racing history”.

Reading and re-reading that chapter lodged the account in my boyhood memory. That was nearly fifty years ago, but I can’t read something like this without having an almost visceral reaction.

Thanks, Alex!


Nurburgring- Nordschleife.
If there ever was real romance in F1, this is it. Just a legend of legends. As another poster wrote, gives you goosebumps just thinking about it.


A real lap in place is in my to do list – alongside watching Le Mans live.
As of now I can bragg that – after 200+ attempts – I completed Mission 34 in Gran Turismo 4.


What about Australia – we want to see the movie too !!!


This place is a bucket list destination for me.
Have been playing it on sims for years.
Would love to watch this. Hopefully someone like Netflix picks this up in Australia.
Agree, it would be amazing to have the German GP there again, but alas, in these days of astro turf, mile deep tyre barriers, and acres of concrete run-off, this place is probably deemed far too dangerous.

Oh well, at least us Aussies still have Mount Panorama!


James maybe a story on Bathurst seems your fans are screaming for it based on the comments.


ANy plans to show it in the US?


where can this be seen??!!!!


It’s called google…


I was once a passenger in a prototype Jaguar sports car driven round the Nordschleife by a German race driver whose job was driving cars there professionally for most of the big manufacturers. The track is incredibly scary and on the afternoon I was there the session was stopped twice to clear the track of the wreckage of cars totalled by their amateur owners. Sitting next to an expert I felt safe and could enjoy the experience, but I can’t start to imagine how frightening it would have been for anyone in a ’60s F1 car who had even an ounce of self-awareness.


Hi Quercus,

A famous quote from Hemingway springs to mind.


Not sure if Hemingway ever went to Tahiti, although another Hamilton and a few others have.


That’s very similar to my experience of the place too!


Showing it on one night in in selected cinemas in selected countries is great…if you happen to be in in those countries and cinemas on the night in question.

For the rest of us who may want to see it, do you know of any plans for a DVD/BD release in the future Alex?


Just the name evokes goosebumps
Can’t wait to watch it


Agree, tracks incorporating good gradients, varying the forces on the cars in bends and even tricky cambers, add so much more character, as some of the shots above, Spa, Brands Hatch, Brazil, the corkscrew etc.

It doesn’t always go hand in hand with being dangerous as well. Heck even the start hill and turn 1 at Austin stands out so much more than the rest of the track or a true Tilke bore. Liberty pushing the concept of a London GP is going in the wrong direction if you ask me, even historical Monaco with no overtaking spots is a joke compared to a track like Spa.

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