A Nürburgring Rookie: Through the Eyes of Taylor Hagler
With two IMSA championships under her belt, Taylor Hagler has a new challenge ahead as she enters her first European endurance race – the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring on May 18-21. The opportunity to enter the infamous race comes as Hagler was selected by Hyundai Motor America to pilot a single Elantra N TCR entry alongside her Bryan Herta Autosport teammates.
Prior to the 24 hour race, Hagler and her Hyundai teammates were required to participate in informative classes, Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) races and a specific qualifying race ahead of their entry into the ADAC TotalEnergies 24 Hour event. Hagler placed in the top ten for each NLS outing and took the top spot of first in the first qualifying race ahead of the marquee event.
“My first impression of the Nurburgring was that the track was extremely technical and quite daunting,” said Hagler. “My first lap was honestly terrifying. There are not very many brake markers, or any type of markers for that matter, and a lot of the track looks the same which makes it difficult to memorize. My first laps were in the wet which made a daunting experience even more terrifying.”
“My NLS experience was great and informative,” continued Hagler. “I gained confidence through each lap and race with the help of Ring Racing who ran a good car. It was nice to have the time to get used to the track, not only the track itself, but in a race setting with many of the cars and drivers that will also be competing in the 24 hours. With a three race setup over the course of a month, we were able to experience all track conditions during our NLS races – from a full wet track to a completely dry track. Getting to experience all of the different weather possibilities (with the exception of ice or snow) helped with preparing us for any weather conditions and how to handle it.”
The 12.94-mile, 154 corner track is exponentially longer than any track Hagler has raced stateside in her professional career. The extended track length requires changes to the Texan’s approach to her race craft.
“Honestly, a longer track really makes things difficult,” said Hagler. “It makes it harder to really focus on getting faster because you really only get four to five laps per stint. This is very different from anything else I’ve done. It’s also a bit hectic trying to learn the track while managing traffic. The GT3 cars are a lot more aggressive than I’ve ever experienced. There is no race like this in the states that has this wide of a horsepower range between car classes which poses a challenge in itself.
The biggest piece of advice I would’ve given myself a few weeks ago would have been to really work on memorizing the names of all the different parts of the track. I have memorized the kilometer markers instead of the names of the parts of the track, mostly because I can’t pronounce them, which has made discussing the areas of the track harder with my teammates and engineers.”
Hagler will join the long list of drivers who have competed in the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring over its 51 year history. The experience for Hagler is something that she isn’t taking lightly as she looks to complete her first ever 24 hour endurance race.
“Being able to say you’ve competed in the 24h Nürburgring is a huge accomplishment,” said the Hyundai driver. “Not every driver gets to compete in an event this large and well known, especially with all of the requirements to get the permit to race. It’s definitely going to be very challenging between the track being so large, the wide range of classes and the constant weather changes in Germany but that’s what makes the track and this race so fun. The best of the best will be racing and it’s been an honor and a huge accomplishment to be asked to compete.” Before the infamous 24 hour race, Hagler will head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 12-14 for the third stop on the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge schedule. The ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring festivities begin May 18 with the big race on May 20.