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So angry with the Nurburgring today.


 

Yesterday, 04.10.2021 there has been a huge accident during the daily evening Touristen Fahrten session.
Monday evenings is the time that locals and people working around the Nurburgring do go to enjoy some less busy laps.
If you have ever been on the Nordschleife during a weekend with good weather then you already know what I am talking about and if you were still there on Monday you would choose to do exactly the same.

From what is gathered until now, the accident started from a car loosing oil/coolant after Ex-Muhle and until Bergwerk corner.
Which is something that can happen. Surely and inevitably.

But what happened next was not a probability, not a random act of bad luck but much more.
What happened yesterday was neglect, complete disrespect towards the safety rules of driving on a racetrack and essentially a loss of human life.

You see after the car leaked the liquid on the tarmac, the tow truck was already dispatched to pick up another car with a defect and bring it back to the parking/paddock safely.
So far so good. That is what should have happened and it did.


What is not supposed to happen on a racetrack is to have a spot where you have an incident and a big truck of several tons stopped dead on the track, without any safety car behind it or indication prior to that.


And I am careful with my words here, because if you have driven the Nurburgring once and if you especially know that segment of the track you know very well that there is absolutely no real safe space for the tow track to stop.

The yellow lights/flags are there for exactly this reason, to notify all of the drivers of upcoming danger so they can be extra cautious and to make them conform with the safety regulations (a certain amount of speed, no overtaking allowed).

But with all the information gathered so far, yesterday there were no yellow lights lit for a very long time.
And when i say very long time we are talking about plenty of minutes, crucial as everything takes just seconds when driving on a racetrack.
The reason why the safety procedure didn’t immediately commence is still unclear.

What we know for sure is that the Nordschleife already has a non existent CCTV system, which is unheard of considering this is the most visited racetrack of our planet, and that the marshals are not even close to enough during weekdays.
Are people’s lives and safety less important during weekdays. I wonder.


An incomplete system that the drivers and locals are trying to complement by using applications and chat groups (i.e. Whatsapp, Facebook groups) but failed to work as safety net yesterday as also the servers of those platforms were not working for the most part of the day.


 

  • The result of this neglect and very poor decision making from whoever decided to send the tow truck in without a marshal/safety escort car;
  • The result of this constant disregard for driver’s lives when letting them go out with very few marshals around the track, and no way to actually notify them for long segments whilst they are driving;
  • The result of a tow truck stranded in the middle of the road while cars from the back are approaching with speeds excessive of 200km/h without any prior indication.
  • No yellow lights, no marshals waving the yellow flags, no safety car stopped way behind to indicate danger.

The result was a huge pile up of ~10-15 cars (number not yet confirmed as i am writing this) all making their way towards the tow truck, hitting each other.

And you see, yesterday – 04.10.2021 – in one of those cars happened to be a person that I held very close to me and considered to be one of the most decent human beings I have ever met in my life.
And I am using past tense as yesterday this person drove his last lap ever on our realm.

Why his last lap; it wasn’t because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, it wasn’t because he wasn’t wearing a helmet, or because he had bad tires or brakes.

It was his last lap due to negligence from the direction of the Nordschleife.
Negligence, lack of staff and ways to guarantee the secure conduct of the sport.

Nikola, was a person that liked to fix things. Practically and metaphorically.
And this is exactly what I would like to do with this post.
It is not aimed to assign blame and find who is at fault for what has happened.
I am not the one responsible to get to the bottom of this and I am confident that the people that are, will do so.


Instead what I think Niko would like, is for this incident to not go in vein.
This incident should be used as a beacon for things to change for the better regarding the safety of all drivers.
And what would also be considered as my goal is that everyone reading this text now, will never feel like I do now while writing this.


We always know that something like this can happen.
We even hear it happening to others that we might not know or are not so close to us.
And the truth is that until it does happen to one of the people in your circle you don’t quite believe it can be so real.
So from the deepest parts of my heart I wish that this post will find its way to the people responsible for the safety operations of the Nordschleife and that it will change things for the better.
I deeply wish that no one of you who landed on this long post will never have to experience this kind of loss and pain.


To the Nurburgring direction…

Things needs to change. This cannot go on like this.
Checking your db meter, the height of a car’s rear wing, if a car has a vented bonnet or a quick release steering wheel won’t make any difference at all when the safety rules and procedures are not followed to the point every time the track opens the barriers to drivers.
There must be a better CCTV system, more marshals or a combination of both to have better eyes and faster responses to the incidents on track.
You must put a line, where money making is outweighed by the safety of the people driving on the track and essentially bringing in the money.
More marshals, more lights, more cameras and procedures that work flawlessly everyday.


And to anyone reading this text with their finger on the trigger, ready to start a gun-fight, closing down the Nurburgring is not the solution but making it work better and safer is.

You owe this to all the drivers, you owe this to all the people that have lost their lives so far on this track, you owe this to Niko.

For Niko

 

Nikola, “my boy” – like we used to call each other – only a few hours passed since we last spoke this afternoon.
You hanged up on me as you were “making gains” at the gym and we said that we would speak later.
And yet, we never did and we never will until we meet again at the new place you left for today.
Please keep a seat close to you brother as we for sure will have a lot to talk about when we do.

We might have been born in different countries and known each other for only a few years now but as I have told you before in person, you really were a very special and worthy man.


Worthy of true friendship, a man of honor, who wasn’t afraid to speak his opinion, yet silent when too much white noise around.
Liked to cut straight to the chase, to fix and solve things.
You would call out on any bullshit and wouldn’t bring your level down for anyone.


Nikola my boy, here I am trying to put my thoughts in line and yet I miserably fail as moments together keep popping on my mind and make me realize how unfair this is and how much I will miss you and your company.

You were always asking me “So, what’s the plan?” giving me that look with the rising eyebrows.
Now it’s my turn. What’s the plan genius? What exactly has happened today, I am in awe.

Our rides to Burger King, our laps at the track together, all the times that we hit the gym together – making fun of me and the exercises I made you do, all the complete bullshit that we were exchanging daily and of course all the mocking you gave me in general.
Our conversations about life, work, relationships, friendship and of course cars.
The sausages and the Pizza Ristorante you cooked when I was staying over and the special cheesecake you offered last week when I came by your place.

Oh man, I will miss all of it, I will miss you.

“Till the day we meet again – in my heart is where I’ll keep you friend”
08/12/1986 – 04/10/2021

12 Comments

  • Shi Yan says:

    My deepest condolences. This is really shocking and messed up!!! Safety surely needs to be improved. Nürburgring management needs to take notice!

  • Daniel Jolk says:

    Wonderful Post,
    My honest condolescenses…
    Thank you for sharing your feelings,

  • Michael Michaelides says:

    Κωνσταντίνε πολύ λυπάμαι για το πολύ άδικο χαμό του φίλου σου, ελπίζω πως η ασφάλεια θα βελτιωθεί όσο το δυνατόν πιο σύντομα. Είναι πολύ κρίμα που έχασες ένα τέτοιο φίλο και αδελφό, ο τρόπος που μετέδωσες το μήνυμα σου είναι πολύ σωστός μπράβο σου, κουράγιο Κωνσταντίνε.

    • K.Zannos says:

      Ευχαριστώ πολύ για το μήνυμα και τις ευχές σου Μιχάλη.

      Να είσαι και εσύ πάντα καλά και να προσέχεις, για να σε έχουν δυνατό και γερό αυτοί που σε αγαπούν.

      Κ.Ζ.

  • Thank you for putting out more information. I was playing through the scenario so many times in my head, because i could not understand why and how it could happen. Missing yellow lights and or no flags was a big fear…

    I am deeply heartbroken for the loss. Race in Paradise Nikola. We are all united through the same passion.
    I will share this because your words could not be more true.

    Stay strong and my deepest condolences for anyone close to him 😔😔

    • K.Zannos says:

      Thanks for reaching out Patrick.

      And i am also happy if the post helped even a little bit in creating a bit more awareness on the whole issue that i am trying to bring.

      I think the more people discuss and realise what this is about the more chances that there will some kind of change to the better and the more safe drivers are going to be from now on when driving there.

      Again thank you,
      K.Z.

  • MB says:

    Dear Konstantin,

    it is very sad, I deeply regret loss of your friend. My prayers are with you, other friends and of course with Niko’s family.

    But come on. As far is I get (or I imagine I can get, I lost my one of my closest relatives this Spring due to someone’s negligence) your sadness, frustration or even anger, I am not sure if it brings anything good to make somene responsible for the outcome right after the accident and call for any new rules or whatever. I get what happened and I am sure it was avoidable, every accident is. But there is always some risk doing anything, it is naturally bigger when driving fast on a track like Nordschleife and you just can not invest in all available measures to prevent it.

    I made several hundreds laps there in many cars and I was always aware that each of it could be my last one. There is plenty of blind corners, horizons, many slow drivers etc., that’s the nature of the place and it won’t be really accessible if you perfectly monitor all the 21 kms with all necessary tech and personnel. You just have to pick some compromise and although I am not sure if the current one is the perfect or right one, it is a working one.

    Anyone – and even more people like you or Nico – may observe the situation, consider his or her risk and decide if he/she can take it or not. If Nico did this, he surely won’t ever regret even his last lap. And if he did not, it was his resposibility too.

    I just want to say: We can not make everything perfectly safe, we only have to do it perfectly transparent and let people chose. I thing Nurburgring is very transparent in this, they have chosen some compromise between safety and economic sustainability, you see the result and you have to decide if you enter the track under these conditions. You don’t have to, you just can. Trying to change this from the outside may sound praiseworthy, but I don’t think it is.

    I believe in individual responsibility and informed decisions. So as long as I am really sad these things are happening, I worry I would be even more sad from a world where we try to prevent all of them at any cost. It is just not viable.

    I wish you the best, be brave.

    Cheers, MB

    • K.Zannos says:

      Hello MB,

      And thank you for taking the time and effort to share your thoughts here.
      All conversations, coming with good intentions and an open mindset can have a good impact in the end.
      That is my belief at least.

      Now to answer, a little bit, to some of the issues you point out…

      – The intention of my post was to create awareness of a fatality that could have been prevented, with a few simple steps.
      – The intention of my post is to urge the Nurburgring to make the safety of the drivers there the priority.

      I fully understand and agree with what you are writing about taking a certain risk when doing something.
      We all do it of course. But we do it under some certain limitations. And let me explain what i mean….

      The way we choose whether we are going to take a certain decision (to drive quick on a specific part of road in this case) is based on some given facts and some constants. I.e. that the road won’t have any big holes or will be cut in half somewhere, or there wont be any TANKS allowed or a barrier won’t be bent somewhere pointing a sharp edge in the middle of the road etc. (I am using extremes here to make a point only)
      These constants are what the party that is offering the piece of tarmac promises to provide.

      Same thing could apply to everything really.
      Every time that a professional swimmer goes to a water pool to train, he has to assume that the water he is diving in has the right P.H. and chlorium and that nothing toxic can endanger his life as well as there won’t be any crocodiles released while his putting down his 100mt. That is the responsibility of the water pool provider.
      Of course something could go wrong while swimming but then again the swimmer knows, before he jumps in the water that a life guard will be there to take him out of the water and try and save him.

      In my original post i simply list a few things that i think are the constants that would improve the safety of all of us driving there and how these constants should be applied strictly and absolutely every single time of operation.

      And again, the text included in my original post was… “It is not aimed to assign blame and find who is at fault for what has happened.”

      What i simply would like to achieve and see, is for things to get better, safer for all of us.
      So that everytime my wife tells “Be careful please and call me as soon as you are finished” i feel that i can reassure her better.

      So that maybe Niko would still be moking me today…

      Best regards and hope we also meet in person one day,
      K.Z.

  • alessandro vacca says:

    I’m speechless Kostas,

    you are pointing a very important topic that needs to be discussed and bring as a priority on the table of the ring administration and and amazing hommage to this man, who you described as a beautiful person that will be missed by a lot of people.
    sincères condoléances cher ami

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