24H-Race Nürburgring 2015 – Team Falken – Part 2

24H-Race Nürburgring 2015 – Team Falken – Part 2 1200 400 Galia Brener

It felt amazing being stuck behind the fence and box directly at the edge where all the cars were passing by. It gave me a huge adrenaline high to hear the loud engines and feel the wind blowing from the speed of the cars! As the drivers were making their 5th round, I decided to abandon my post and head to the rest of the Falken Team. Everyone asked me where I was, because they saw my live blogged video, which was taken directly in front of the cars as they started the race. I gave them a mischievous wink and went to put on the fireproof racing suit.


Since this was my first 24-h race, I was surprised at the length of the pit stops. They averaged about 2-4 minutes with lots of action the entire time – I loved it! The Falken Team was in top form and had everything under control. The pit stops were done fast, because everything was planned in advance due to weather conditions and surprise changes – from very soft, soft to medium tires. The hours passed by quickly and the tension was rising. It was midnight and we decided to go back to the hotel to rest for the big finish tomorrow.


On the way back, our beautiful Falken representative Christina Bien decided to give us a tour of the camping grounds around the racetrack. Here is where the action takes place at night, with everyone drinking and partying. As I was walking around, I tripped on something and fell. Everyone started laughing and I didn’t understand why. I looked down and saw that I tripped on a wooden penis statue! Apparently the men place this beside the fire to attract women to mate with them. This is not a joke, they really placed that wooden penis there! Beside the fire I saw a tiny little motor bike, and as I was about to leave, a Neanderthal-looking man came up to me and said that little bike has lots of power and vibrate really good in the all right places. His friend was grilling huge pieces of meat. He stabbed a knife into the meat, picked it up, started chewing like a barbarian and smiled with one open eye at me. It was time to leave! ;-)


The next morning as we were approaching the track, we saw many G-strings lying on the road beside the camping area. I don’t want to now how many babies were produced that night! Maybe even Neanderthal-Penis-Man got lucky, but somehow I doubt that. I was very happy to know that Team Falken was still in 3rd place after racing the entire night! I threw on the fireproof racing suit and ran back to the pit boxes. As the day progressed, the drivers were coming back into the Falken VIP Lounge, and I had a chance to interview Peter Dumbreck after he drove at night.


I asked him how does it feel to drive at night: He said, “Driving at night is more relaxing. It’s a nicer feeling. There is something special about being awake at night while everyone else is sleeping. However, the downsides are the newer inexperienced drivers at night. They are cautious and don’t drive as fast which makes it difficult to overtake them, therefore we get caught in traffic. There is a bit of an action hero feeling, and you are wired and awake.” Then I asked Peter, “What do you think about when driving at night?” He laughed and said, “I think about random things. Tonight I had many hunger pangs and thought to myself why didn’t I eat that last banana before driving!” He paused with a short smile and said, “Then you force yourself to focus again, because other thoughts can cause mistake and accidents. If you’re in the clear and no pressure from the car behind, then your minds drifts away. I sometimes even look at the scenery, and then force myself to concentrate again. It’s an automatic reaction. The 3 laps before the end is when the traffic is a real nightmare. The drivers are tired and that makes them slow down.”


Claire, Peter’s wife was there too, so I asked her a few questions to get some more personal insight into the driver’s family life. I ask what concerns does she have when he is racing? She said, “I want him to do well. We have been together for 20 years now, and after such a long time I am not worried about crashing anymore. He is an excellent and skilled driver. However one worries about how he feels after the race. If the team manager is happy, then peter is happy and his family is happy.” Claire and Peter met in 1995 at the British Formula 3. She comes from a racing family and they have this shared hobby – which is a blessing to have in a relationship. There is a close community of the driver’s wives, and when accidents happen, they are all impacted by it.


As the race was coming to an end, the last half hour was very nerve wrecking! Team Falken was strong at 3rd place, however with the team behind it coming very close to them! There is a high appeal in racing on the Nordschleife. It is one of the most challenging racetracks in the world with many elevation changes. On an average, 160 cars begin at the 24-h race, and only about 100 cars make it to the end. 30 cars wipe out in the first hour of the race!


The 24 hours ended and Team Falken came in at 3rd place! That was a nice progress from last year, when they finished at 4th place. Everyone in the pit box was cheering and screaming! I have never seen such happy men before in my life! Some threw themselves on the floor and started kissing the used tires, the rest were picking each other up on the shoulders and ran around like wild little children. I ran to the front of the pit lane to make a live video of the drivers celebrating. Amazing results Team Falken! Also amazing for me that I won the bet with my friends. It was a very exciting weekend, which I shall not forget for a long time. I congratulated the Falken Director for their victory and all the drivers for an amazing race. The black Mercedes picked me up and drove me back to my little cosmopolitan city with a big attitude.


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24H-Race Nürburgring 2015 – Team Falken – Part 1

24H-Race Nürburgring 2015 – Team Falken – Part 1 1200 400 Galia Brener

My doorbell rang and the driver came upstairs to help me with my “little” suitcase – packed full to the brim for this exciting race weekend. He laughed at how much a woman needs for two days. Since the weather in the Eifel region is like an angry mistress, one doesn’t know if it will rain or shine. I had to pack for three days, and two seasons. Thankfully I did so, because it was a cold weekend in the outside, yet very warm, exciting and hot on the inside – at the pit box. The amused driver ushered me into the black Mercedes Benz, and we took off toward the Nürburgring, which would be my thrilling home for the entire weekend.


We arrived at the beautiful Seehotel Maria Laach. Sticking to my usual routine, I grabbed my lucky red bikini and headed straight to the wellness area to relax and prepare for the Falken opening event. The Benz shuttle drove us to the Nürburgring, where Falken had its VIP lounge inside the building. The first evening was reserved for the special welcome greetings for both guests and press. The top Falken management from Japan was there, presenting their company to us and giving the drivers a good luck speech before the big start! The mood was very cheerful and the people were giddy with excitement before the big race! There were about 90% men in attendance, and the rare woman here and there. I didn’t complain about that, and I actually found it very fascinating and funny to observe the men in their natural habitat. The drivers introduced themselves on the stage, and spoke about their goal for the race. Last year they came in 4th, and definitely wanted to do better this year.


Before I came to the race, I made a bet with a few friends that they will come in 3rd this year, and I was curious if I would win. After the introductions and delicious dinner, I went on a mission to find the Falken drivers and ask them some questions. That’s when I first met Peter Dumbreck, Wolf Henzler, Alexandre Imperatori and Martin Ragginger – who were driving the Falken Porsche 911 GT3 R for this race. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were all very friendly and quite the open and social team. They seemed easy-going and very confident about the race. Peter said they had a tradition to drink one beer for good luck the night before the race. We laughed a bit, made some jokes about the racing rituals and I wished the team good luck!


The next day we had a nice race-breakfast. I ate clean all weekend without any carbs and felt quite good about it. We headed to the Nürburgring for the morning press conference with our Falken team. The drivers were very calm, happy and reassured with their answers. One could not see or hear any doubts, stress or nervousness at all! Bravo to them! I was very impressed by how well they could control themselves. That’s the first sign of top professionalism, when one can control their actions and emotions before such a big challenge!


We got a chance to drive directly on the Nordschleife with a huge bus before the race started. I was skeptical about how fun it would be to drive the track on a bus, but I was pleasantly surprised! Our driver turned out to be a little daredevil and pushed the bus to its limits. It’s a funny sensation to test out the bus’s hydraulic system on such a difficult racetrack. The Nordschleife has many challenging elevations and curves, and allows the drivers to pretend that they are driving on a rollercoaster. However, our bus driver had mistaken the bus with a Lamborghini – so it was definitely a fun bus ride to remember!


Back in the pit box, everyone was moving in a hectic and excited pace before the race started. Press and camera crews were to be seen everywhere! Fans, drivers and their lovers were scurrying around, making sure nothing was forgotten. I bid our team and drivers good luck for the big race and left to get a proper viewing spot. I made my way to the commando central boxes, because I wanted to be directly at the front when the race started. I managed to hide myself between the fence and the box, so that nobody would see me. The cars were lined up and it was seconds before the race was about to start! The engines were revving and my heart was beating faster and faster. Everyone was sent back into the pit boxes and I was the only person left so close to the track, because nobody saw me. Little rebel-in-good-girl-disguise-me, always in the middle of the action!


3, 2, 1…. A LOUD VROOOOOMMMMMM… and the race started!


To be continued…







Frankfurt goes to Valencia for Firestone

Frankfurt goes to Valencia for Firestone 1354 437 Galia Brener

Last week, I packed my favorite mini cosmopolitan city with me in my suitcase and made my way to Valencia for the launch of the Firestone Destination HP tire. I was really surprised to see how many women were there, thinking that it would be mostly a male-dominated event. We were greeted at the elegant 4-star hotel by a group of gorgeous Spanish ladies, who took us to the outside bar area for a welcome drink. Huge tapas plates and cold glasses of crisp cava were awaiting us, along with the hot summer air. I was delighted to hear that the women were louder than the men, making naughty car and guy jokes. I couldn’t stop laughing at how open and uninhibited they were – Firestone women on fire! Our representative Chris gave us a mischievous wink, and announced, “Let the challenge begin!”

We started with a bike tour around Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, and drove into the old town. It was very beautiful with many remarkable old buildings and streets. A few people damaged their bikes on the way, so it was really like a survival of the fittest biker tour! We got back to the hotel, changed faster than the speed of light, and were chauffeured to the secret location of the opening ceremony. As we arrived in front of the futuristic cube building, a huge two-floor level “F” of the Firestone logo greeted us as a bright beacon in the night. We stepped into a dimly-lit area, and the first thing I saw was the celebrated Destination HP tire, standing under a pink spot light in the middle of the room in all its glory… quite mysterious indeed. The DJ was playing a hypnotic house set, and more pretty ladies in red Firestone polo shirts were floating around with a tray of various cold drinks. The catering gentlemen in black were circulating their delicious creations, including my favorite mini burgers, langoustine on sticks, and other exotic dishes. Here we met Stefano Modena, the Italian Formula One racing star of the late 80s. He is such an open, friendly and cool character. He explained the racing and tire business to me a bit, and we all had a great evening.

The next day, the real adventure began! We got a black Firestone polo shirt, and were sent off to the next mysterious location, where we teamed up in twos and were given our own SUV to have crazy fun and burn some rubber! We had to collect points, and the team with the highest score would win. I got a really cool racing partner Nicole, who goes by the name of Auto Diva. I was given my very first roadbook, which I learned to read on the spot, and so the challenge was on! We made our way through the city of Valencia with this roadbook, and then drove off the main roads, onto a rough terrain. Half the time I wasn’t sure if we were on the right path because it was mainly an abandoned strenuous off road with many ups and down, and huge rocks everywhere. But we put the pedal to the medal, created dust and dirt hurricanes behind us, and arrived at the destination point, which was a racetrack, where Stefano Modena was waiting for us. There we got to drive like devil-possessed teenagers on the wet track, and also another off road track, where some drops were almost completely vertical! The tires had a really strong grip, and performed excellently on wet and dry land. What a wild ride! My heart was thumping with adrenaline and excitement. And guess what? Surprise, surprise, the winning car was driven by two women.

We got back to the hotel, had some relaxing spa hours, and then escorted to the dinner and party at the picturesque harbor. We went on a catamaran ride that took us into the ocean to watch the gold sunset. After some bottles of cava, we proceeded to a restaurant where we ate more delicacies, and were ready to shake it on the dance floor. Our cool and cheerful rep Chris took us to the VIP section of the open-air club, where a table and bottles were waiting for us with open arms. We danced into the early morning hours, where the Valencia sky was turning a glowing purple, and everyone was in an ecstatic mood. It was like being in a wonderland for adults. What a phenomenal day!

As the weekend came to an end, and all of the action-packed events played through my head, I was very happy to see how the times have changed. So many more women are involved in this industry. Firestone is really ahead in the tire game because they know how to appeal to both genders, and their trendy lifestyle-factor is very prominent. Also ladies, I’ve seen once again that if you want to meet fun and interesting men, go to more car events. You never know if your future partner is somewhere amongst the crazy adrenaline junkies or tire lovers. All in all, Firestone positively surprised me: an incredible weekend, a very exciting launch, an adventure never to be forgotten, and a competitive, good-priced product! At the end, Frankfurt loved Valencia, but still nothing beats coming back home to my favorite Mainhattan.


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