While many of us were glomming on to what exists of college football, production-based racing cars were taking the green on the world’s most challenging natural-terrain road course, the Nordschleife, the original up-and-down circuit through the Eifel Mountains of Germany with three digits’ worth of actual curves. My pal Vic Elford, who’s tasted victory on this historic track, might liken it to New York City: If you can make it there as a driver, or as a racing sports car, you can make it anywhere. That sentiment drove Aston Martin to enter the ADAC Total Nurburgring 24 Hours with its Vantage GT8R, entered by its GT-class racing partner, Garage 59, and competing in the SP8T category. It didn’t win – BMW took the event, interrupted by a 9 1/2-hour rain delay, for its first victory in the round-the-clock ‘Ring race since 2010 – but don’t let that prevent you from considering Aston Martin’s offer.
The GT8R will be produced in a run of 50 customer cars, priced at 225,000 pounds Sterling, or a little more than $287,000 in our currency. In addition to the Nurburgring race, the GT8R is also eligible for the GT Cup in the United Kingdom, Super Takiyu in Japan, the New Zealand Endurance Championship and best of all, the SCCA Trans-Am Series on our shores. It’s compliant with the current SP8T class maximum of 549 horsepower and minimum of 1,450 kilograms curb weight. But get this: If the price is a little daunting, and you happen to already own a Vantage GT4, Aston Martin can sell you a conversion kit to bring your car up to racing spec. Performance-wise, the GT8R is slotted between the GT3 and GT4 Vantages.