Nurburgring Sold To Russian Billionare Viktor Kharitonin
While we’ve been enjoying tons of Nurburgring footage showing the latest cars and SUVs taking hot laps around the Nordschleife through 2014, Germany’s iconic race track was still struggling to stay afloat due to its enormous debt and the inability to secure financing. Although saved from bankruptcy in 2012 after the German government guaranteed $312 million to allow the track to meet its debt obligations, the "Green Hell" was far from safe. Fortunately, that seems to have come to an end as Russian billionaire Viktor Kharitonin agreed to buy a majority stake in the motorsports complex.
According to Bloomberg, quoting Nurburging administrators, Kharitonin, who is the chairman of Moscow-based Pharmstandard OJSC, agreed to buy two-thirds of the company that controls the German race track. The Russian stepped in to acquire the stake Capricorn Automotive agreed to buy in March 2014, but failed to complete the transaction.
There’s no official word on how much Kharitonin paid for Capricorn’s stake, but the latter is reportedly valued at more than $126 million. In 2013, Nurburgring administrators said the complex is up for sale for $165 million. The property acquired by Kharitonin includes both the 13-mile North Loop and the 3-mile Grand Prix course.
Click past the jump for more details on the Nurburgring.
Why it matters
This is definitely the greatest Nurburgring-related news in a very long time. The track nearly went bankrupt in 2012 and it’s a miracle it has been kept alive for more than two years with a $500 million debt. We might have not realize it, but we’ve been this close to seeing the Nurburgring track close its doors.
Can you imagine the automotive world without the "Green Hell" and without all the car testing that goes on over there on a daily basis? Or can you picture the endurance-racing scene without the 24 Hours of Nurburgring race? I, for one, can not, and I’m excited to see the track move under new ownership. Hopefully, Kharitonin’s arrival means better managing strategies are implemented so that the ’Ring won’t have to face financial difficulties again.
I am just trying to picture the conversations of billionaires:
"How was your day Viktor ?"
"Eh, it was okay... I bought a $126 million racetrack."
What a life.
Nurburgring - A Brief History Lesson
Construction of the Nurburgring track began in late 1925, with the historic parts of the race course, including the Nordschleife, completed in 1927. Originally, the track featured four configurations, but several changes added new layouts in the mid-1980s, including a new Nordschleife that’s nearly 1.3 miles shorter than the initial one. Besides the Nordschleife, the present-day Nurburgring includes the 16.1-mile Combined Circuit and the shorter, 3.2-mile GP-Strecke, the latter completed in 2002.
The track’s most important annual highlight is the 24 Hours of Nurburgring weekend. The event features more than 200 cars, over 700 drivers and draws in nearly 300,000 spectators. Automotive manufacturers use the Nordschleife to test vehicles ranging from supercars to large SUV and publicize their lap times. Several automakers have been racing one another to establish new Nurburgring records, with the current benchmark for production cars being held by the Porsche 918 Spyder at 6 minutes and 57 seconds.
Additionally, the Nurburgring is a popular attraction for many driving enthusiasts who travel to Germany from all over the world to hoon their personal cars on the historic track.