Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nurburgring, 2002 (Part 4)

Welt von Schuey
On Saturday, (July 6th) while nearing Kerpan. Vladi points out the Michael Schumacher Karting Centre and we turn off the Autobahn. Next turning onto Schumacher Strassa, where we stop for the first of many “photo-op’s.” (M.E. takes my picture underneath the street sign)

The Karting centre is a colossal complex and interestingly is located directly across from the Visteon Technical Center. Visteon was originally a Ford Parts supplier before being “spun-off.”

There’s an indoor & outdoor Karting track and we go inside herr Schumacher’s Karting plaza and go to the Loo… (Hey how many times do you get to PEE at Herr Schumacher’s, eh?)

The next guided tour doesn’t start until 4PM so we must “kill” 1hr. We quickly go thru the gift store which surprisingly is selling Juan Pablo Montoya merchandise. Vladi says “Let’s go get a bite to eat, Ja?”

Amazingly above the stairway, a Benetton B195 Formula 1 is mounted horizontally to the wall! We walk upstairs to the M.S. Sports Bar. Sitting on bar stools inside the small barroom, I notice that there are pictures plastered everywhere – as the walls are completely jam packed with memorabilia while the bar’s TV’s and big screens play footage of that year’s Silverstone qualifying session. While Vladi & I have”Snasage’s” un Bitburger…

Afterwards we go next door to the tour centre and wait until 4:15PM to take our tour. I find it HILLARIOUS as Mary Ellen points out the vacuum cleaner leaning against the wall directly next to the entrance door. (Having M.E. snap a picture of it)

The walls and door frame are painted in Ferrari “Fly Yellow” with a Ferrari F2000 chassis greeting us. Clearly visible thru the doors glass panel; as our tour guide is the president of Chicquita Deutchland and has known the Schumacher family for 22 years.

We begin the tour by watching a short film highlighting the brotherz Schuey’s development: From Michael purchasing his first car at age 8 (Fiat 500) to the brother’s progression into Formula 1.

Next we walk to the first room which features a go kart. (Michael’s) Next sits a red Fiat 500 which Michael learned how to drive & shift at age 8! I suspect it’s the very car that Fiat gave Michael for his past birthday in recognition of his winning for Ferrari.

In the third stall” of the first room sits Michael’s Formula Ford which was sponsored by the local Ford dealer where Michael worked as a mechanic for three years... Alongside this sits the Formula 3 chassis of younger brother Ralf.

And with Willi webber becoming Michael’s manager in 1988. The rest as they say, is History, Ja!

The next room houses several Formula 1 cars including: A 1995 Benetton B195; A 1996 Ferrari “High-nose” chassis and another Ferrari. With a 1999 Ferrari sitting alone in a pit stop diorama. The car sits lifted on front & rear jack stands with 2 tires removed and the pit board congratulating Michael on his 150th start. While there’s light music playing in the background. The subtle sounds of an F1 car passing by are clearly audible.

Before reaching the ’99 Ferrari we pass thru two rooms filled with lighted display cases full of pictures before walking on top of a lighted glass floor filled with Michael’s driving boots. There’s also a variety of driving gloves and Ferrari bits on the wall.

Besides the ’99 Ferrari sits Ralf’s Jordon-Mugen/Honda F1 chassis with the Bee cariture on the nose. Then there’s a blank space against the back wall. This is where the F2002 chassis will go! With which Michael tied Juan Manuel Fangio’s total of five World Championships. And there’s also another 2 Ferrari’s on the way we’re told…

As our tour concludes, we’re asked if we have any questions. So I ask why there’s NO Jordan 191? The tour guide replies that Michael does NOT consider this part of his career... Since he only drove it 500 meters…

SHEISA!!! Although I think its total BULLSHIT… I find this to be a very humourous remark since it’s what got Michael noticed in the first place before being “poached” by Benetton.

I suspect it’s because Michael is unwilling to pay an exorbitant (ANY) amount of money to the private collectors holding his very first F1 chassis hostage. Which has since been reproduced in 1/18 & 1/43 Diecasts by Minichamps.

Reluctantly leaving Der ‘Vurld ‘O Schuey. I take solace in the fact that I’m most likely the very first visitor from Seattle, WA as the Museum has only just opened to the public on July 1st. This concludes our days outing as we drive home to Colone. What a MOST EXCELLENT DAY!!!