Despite the ridiculous fights and claims that fly back and forth from automakers regarding the track, the Nürburgring is in dire straits. Operating in bankruptcy since mid-May, it's been put up for sale and its future is uncertain. Lucky for us, then, a great big group of people have shown up to try to save it.
Organized by the Queen of the 'Ring herself, Sabine Schmitz, and fellow racer Christian Menzel, the Save The Ring protests registered over 2,000 people for the event on Facebook. There's no official word yet on how many people showed up, but judging from the photos it's a lot.
In case you need some of the backstory, the 'Ring has been owned by the public since its birth, and is actually technically considered a public road. It's often closed for races or manufacturer testing, but on many days it's still open to the speed-crazed masses as long as you pay a toll. The bankruptcy court is focused right on selling the ring to the highest bidder to pay off its creditors, and that may include private equity firms.
And the reason private equity firms have people so scared is because their goal is to make money for their investors, whatever the cost. Typically they buy assets with only a small cash down payment, and huge amounts of debt. They then transfer that debt to the asset (in this case, the Nürburgring), and try to raise the value of the asset as much as they can. They then sell the asset, debt and all, often to another private equity firm. The second private equity firm then raises more debt for this second purchase, and transfers the debt again to the asset.
This continues for a few rounds, essentially acting like a big game of hot potato. There are three options for what happens when the music stops – either a big company buys the asset, the asset is offered for sale to the public in an IPO, or, in the worst case scenario, the asset (in this case, the 'Ring) declares bankruptcy, and faces potential liquidation.
That means no more Nürburgring. No more lap times. No more fun. Ever.
Alright, so while I'm not so sure about this "ever" part, and all this financial maneuvering can get a bit complicated, it's certainly in the 'Ring's best interest to stay in the hands of someone with the weekend racer's best interests at heart.
The protests are still ongoing right now, and you can check it all out on Facebook.
Won't you help Save The Ring?
All photos via Facebook