The Hockenheimring is the site for many different racing series, and now Turn 10 is excited to announce that it’s going to be the site of even more racing: as an incredibly detailed and lifelike track in Forza Motorsport 4, coming October 2011. Painstakingly recreated by Turn 10’s talented track team, Hockenheimring is a high-speed track with little elevation change and plenty of places to pass, and it’s sure to bring another welcome challenge to Forza racers everywhere.
One of Germany’s premiere racing venues and alternating host to the German Grand Prix, the historic track is located in the scenic (and, incidentally, volcanic) Rhine valley in southwestern Germany, an ancient site once home to camping Roman legionnaires. Before racing came to the region, it was best known for growing asparagus, but that all changed when a young man named Ernst Christ decided that what the town really needed was a racetrack. At his urging, the Hockenheim’s mayor and the city council came around to the plan, and the track opened in 1932 as a motorcycle racetrack where such famous motorcycle brands as DKW and NSU battled for supremacy. The early course was considerably different than the current ribbon. For one, its surface was packed dirt, suitable for the rather wild world of two-wheeled racing; and secondly, the course was roughly triangular. All that changed in the mid-1930s, when Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union put their fierce on-track rivalry aside and created a new circuit—wider throughout and vaguely oval in shape—which would become the form the track kept until 2001. While racing took a hiatus during the Second World War, the extensive track damage from the war was fully repaired only two years after the end of the conflict, and racing resumed shortly thereafter.
The next era of the track’s history began in the 1960s, when an expanding motorway resulted in a remodel of the track. The tarmac remained roughly the same, but a new and distinctive “Motodrom” section was built, which consisted of a huge number of grandstands and a hotel—the Motodrom itself—integrated within them. Guests at the Motodrom to this day can simply pop out of their rooms or look out their windows to watch the action on the track, making it one of the most unique experiences in motorsports. However, with the improvements came faster cars, and the track’s long straights meant that very high speeds were attained. After famed driver Jim Clark was killed in an accident in 1968, chicanes and barriers were added to improve safety and reduce overall speeds. Additionally, the length of the course and layout meant that much of the racing action took place in the forested sections far away from the view of spectators. By 2000, F1 officials asked for a redesigned course. The new circuit is shorter by 1.25 miles, and the straights in the forested sections were removed in favor of more numerous tight turns. Thankfully many legendary areas of the track, like the long, flat-out curve known as the Parabolika, were left intact. However, the changes brought the improved racing action closer to the fans, allowing better views of the improved overtaking at turns such as the technically demanding hairpin, where nerves of steel are required to out-brake the competition.
The resulting track is notorious for being unpredictable and relentless in its close action racing, making Hockenheimring an exciting place to watch any of the numerous racing events that take place on the grounds. As there is virtually no elevation change throughout the flat track, drivers instead must contend with five long, high-speed straights and several extremely tight corners. With at least four promising spots for overtaking, Hockenheim rewards drivers who push their limits without exceeding them. For instance, speeds of nearly 200 mph can be reached on the Parabolika’s curving straight before braking into famed hairpin (“spitzkehre” in German), one of the most exciting passing spots on any circuit. The key to the hairpin is out-braking your opponent without disrupting your line. A few turns later, drivers reach the modern and graceful Mercedes-Benz grandstands, which loom above a technical, sharp left-hander roughly halfway around the course. This is also a good place for overtaking rivals. Rounding the final turns, named Elfkurve and Sudkurve, the course passes through the immense grandstands, from which nearly every seat has a view of the final straight and the finish line.
That’s a quick peek at this historic track’s background. Don’t forget to take a look at the “Making of Hockenheim” video which describes in detail how Turn 10 translated this course into an amazing digital driving experience.