The sound of the engine revving, the feel of the road through the steering wheel and seat, the wind blowing through an open window or roof, the occasional adrenaline rush of sudden oncoming traffic, the car flowing from one curve to the next, discovering new things after each unsighted turn. For Frank Berben-Groesfjeld, professional photographer and author of the picture loaded coffee table book ‘360 NÜRBURG‘, few things are as satisfying as a good drive.
Frank was born and raised in the Netherlands and subsequently moved to Copenhagen in Denmark. “Denmark is one of the only places in Europe that is actually just as flat as the Netherlands. It has not always been easy to satisfy my need for an exciting drive. This means I have had to look for driving thrills elsewhere. Fortunately, I found driving heaven not too far from home, in the Eifel mountains in Germany.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the Eifel region; The Eifel mountains are located between the city of Aachen and Cologne/Bonn to the north and the picture-perfect valleys of the river Rhine and the Moselle further south.
“It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas in Germany. The Eifel is characterized by high hills and circular lakes shaped by volcanic activity, deep valleys cut by numerous streams and rivers, omnipresent roadside shrines and chapels, romantic castles, quiet villages, and unpredictable weather. The incredible diversity offered by such a geographically small area is one of the most striking things about the Eifel.”
Anyone who’s been there, will know about the dense, rain-soaked forests in the Schneifel, mild and sunny wine-growing valleys around the Mosel and Ahr, gently rolling farmland in Maifeld, and impressive hills in the Hohe Eifel. Each offers its own take on motoring nirvana. “And let’s not forget the famous and infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife” Frank says. “A legendary racetrack, also known as the Green Hell. It is probably the most unforgiving, challenging, and beautiful racetrack anywhere in the world.”
Frank continues: “Fortunately, the past few years I have been in a position where I had time and some money to spend on indulging in my hobby. The first thing I did was the obvious; purchasing a Porsche and just driving around without a purpose. I have always been an enthusiastic photographer, so these journeys led to a growing collection of pictures, as well as a deepening knowledge of the Eifel and the local roads and sights.”
“After some time, I started thinking about doing something useful with all these images and experiences, so I decided to work on a book. Fast forward 12 months, 14,000 miles on the Eifel’s country roads, and thousands of pictures, and I have just released a road book called 360 NÜRBURG.”
360 NÜRBURG is a 334-page hardcover coffee table book with 14 routes throughout the Eifel. The routes take the reader on a journey along the most exciting roads the Eifel has to offer. Each route is illustrated with multiple pictures and custom route maps, there are descriptions of the main points-of-interest, and there are downloadable itineraries. In time there will also be a smaller paperback version.
At a certain point, Frank’s Porsche wasn’t delevering what he was after anymore. “I never really got along with the Porsche. It was well-engineered, handled brilliantly, sounded great, and the interior quality was excellent, but something was missing. It was just not special enough. Not raw and thrilling enough. Not authentic enough.”
When you read these words, many will probably know the perfect solution. Buy a Lotus! Which Frank did.
“I decided to purchase an Exige 360 Cup from 2016 and I couldn’t have been happier with the decision. It is everything I was looking for. Of course it is loud and cramped inside the cabin, it rattles and squeaks, and some bits are of questionable quality. It’s not for everyone, that is for sure. But in order to experience the pure thrill of driving, while still retaining some comfort and luggage space, I have yet to find a more suitable car.”
The Lotus is featured prominently throughout the book. “Hopefully, my book will inspire more people to purchase a Lotus. Car enthusiasts are often lamenting the demise of the manual gearbox, the proliferation of electronic driving aids, the escalating weight of cars, and the increasing insulation from the road, but they need look no further than Lotus. I can’t think of another sportscar manufacturer that deserves success like Lotus does.”
About the book: “Time will tell if the book becomes a commercial success, but regardless of the outcome, making and publishing it has been an incredible journey and learning experience. And, last but not least, it led to owning a Lotus, which makes it worth all the effort and more.”
The book is available for purchase now at several outlets around the Nürburgring and in due time also on Amazon. Until then, you can order it directly from Frank by sending him an e-mail with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The RRP is 60 € / 53£. Shipping to the UK is 21 € / 18.8£, Write in your e-mail that you read the Bends and Curves post and you will receive a 20% discount on the price of the book.
This article also appeared in Chicane magazine issue 119 (club magazine of Lotus Drivers Club).