A few days ago deep in the historic Teuteborg Forest of central Germany, the first stone was laid in the construction of an intriguing project. For twenty years prior to 1993, the 80 hectare (200 acre) site was a massive NATO ammunition depot, supplying the British Army of the Rhine during the Cold War. After eighteen years of disuse and six years of planning the extensive sturdy warehousing and road network is to be converted into the Bilster Berg luxury "drive resort" and automobile testing facility. Considering who's involved, the new racetrack should be a pretty spectacular experience.
The circuit itself has been designed by non other than Hermann Tilke, designer of all the most recent Formula One circuits at Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Istanbul and Shanghai. Technical consultant is Walter Röhrl, rally champion, Porsche test driver and all-round German driving hero, the two men being brought together by the instigator of the project, the aristocrat, business man and petrol-head, Marcus Graf von Oeynhausen-Sierstorpf. Once you see the site's terrain, size, location and the fact that there are thirty large and extremely well constructed hall/garages already in existence, served by a comprehensive road network, the project's vision begins to make perfect sense.
The 2.67 mile (4.3 km) track will follow the undulating terrain and can be split into separate east and west loops for different purposes. The circuit is designed to be a world-class test of man and machine on a par with the Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamp. In addition there will be tracked and natural off-road areas for SUV testing and a large variable-grip handling pad. Various clubhouses and service buildings complete the offer and the facility is designed in such a way that separate access to each of the circuit areas is available to allow for different secure and private functions.
While exclusive private membership and corporate events are of course part of the business plan, the site is mostly intended to operate as a serious testing and presentation facility for European auto manufacturers and the seclusion of the location is an important factor. Car makers are increasing the number of different models that they produce and are running out of viable test-tracks. The creation of a new circuit of such quality is a rare thing.
Since all the relevant permissions have finally been obtained and the first phase construction work began, Bilster Berg are now taking bookings for July 2012 onwards. If you're convinced in the business case and want a piece of the action shares are still available in multiples of €100,000 (US$134,000).