The Journey of Laura Luft to NLS
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Race driver, event manager and eSports commentator: Laura Luft is an all-rounder.
She started karting at 24 and now the big dream: the Nurbürgring 24 Hours. Without sponsors but with lots of passion. Who is Laura Luft and how was her first NLS race this year?
Pursuing the dream of motorsport - Laura Luft had a late start to race karts at the age of 24. But her way up has been impressive: from kart races at the German Team Championship, international 24 (and over) hour races and with some victories to her name, Luft worked her way to the Nordschleife. 2016 saw her switching to the ADAC Dacia Logan Cup, followed by the RCN on the Nürburgring in 2017.
After securing all the necessary licences to race at the mighty Nürburgring, she had her first start in the now rebranded NLS - VLN back in the days - under her belt. The initial three entries were a chance to build on that base for her first 24 Hours race.
Then came 2020 and the CoVid situation brought tough times for so many people in motorsport. We spoke to Laura about her start in auto racing, her love for the Nürburgring, the current situation and much more.
"Especially at the Nordschleife you never stop learning. It is never the same, never predictable."
Racers: First of all a belated happy birthday.
Laura: "Thank you, it was the best birthday ever."
R: Yeah, and that with this year now.
L: "Right, it is a big luck that we can race at least. And I´m so thankful that I was able to put the budget together with my financial resources."
R: Was it a last minute deal? Or was that just the impression I had?
L: "No, I said at the beginning of the season I want to drive at the beginning of August to get finally get behind the steering wheel again and in the end of August for my birthday. The first race in August wasn't possible because of the budget, but I wanted to drive at the end of the month and jump into the cold water with the 6 hours race. On Mondaybefore the race I received the information that I was swapped from the M240i to the Cayman instead. So new car, new challenge.“
R: But maybe sometimes it works...?
L: "Yeah, then you don't worry about it, I have tried to leave the worries behind me, just drive and feel what the car does without overthinking - that is the best. At the beginning it was a little bit different. You're already putting enough pressure on yourself, you always want to perform and drive into the lead, but it's important to come back safe, have no damages, to learn from it and to be satisfied. Mostly I am not satisfied with myself as I am perfectionist but in the end I was quite ok with my performance and happy that I could race."
R: And it's good to learn and drive different cars and setups.
L: "This was so funny last year when I drove in the VLN for the first time. The cars I had were all a bit different in the setup and handling so you have to adapt yourself and learn of how to squeeze the most out of it. The last one I drove was the best in terms of setup.“
R: Is there any chance for you to drive that car again?
L: "I was not super happy with the Porsche Cayman as I knew that this car is not meant for my driving style so I will focus on the M240i again for the next ones and also try to maybe have others to try out.“
R: So, what are your plans for the rest of this year?
L: "My big plan was to drive the 24h race this year. I never had a sponsor, but I updated my portfolio and sent out e-mails - and then came Corona - which made it impossible to find sponsors. Also the next thought was that no spectators would be potentially allowed to be at the track like in previous years I wanted to race with the same feeling as we normally are used to have this. Without the fans it is not the same. So it's the plan for next year. I won 24 hours races in karting and I loved that, I love endurance racing and the teamspirit to fight together. And I want to have this feeling in the car as well. I also like to compete one day in the 24h series like e.g. in Dubai or Barcelona etc. - but you need partners for that. I never had a sponsor and hope that this is a good starting point with my story and my long way with few resources."
R: I think as a racing driver you always have the ambition to drive in the lead and push you harder than the others.
L: "Right, and especially at the Nordschleife you never stop learning. It is never the same, never predictable and we saw it. There were many accidents and this happens to the best drivers."
R: Yes, and you have experienced all weather conditions in the Eifel.
L: "Right, just not snow yet. Snow and hail not, but all other yes."
R: Your way is impressive, you started really late with motorsport.
L: : "Yes, at the age of 24 I sat in a kart for the first time and had to work out everything myself. No one ever told me to go there or do this or that, it´s all my own work. Many people ask me how I did this and retrospectively it´s easy. Just do it!"
R: Next to real world motorsport you commentate on sim racing. How did that happen?
L: "Right, somehow I slipped into it. A manager from a simulation center just said 'we have an event there, and you speak well, just do the commentating'. And it was fun and I get more requests which I really feel proud of. It is like a bridge between being on the track and simracing."
R: Can you describe when have you been to the Nürburgring for the first time and which feelings connected you with such a track?
L: "My first time driving was in 2009 for a BMW experience training - that was the first time I was on the Nordschleife where we had a MINI Track day. You go through the individual sections and have the possibility to practice for two days. Of course you have to learn and memorize the whole track on your mind - driving back and forth, stepping out of the car, and just seeing the elevation changes was impressive."
"It was just amazing that you can be on a racetrack where so many famous drivers had driven. On the last day we had three free laps with the instructor and my co-driver was not feeling well so I had more free lap times for me. I just followed the others without thinking, just going full throttle and we followed the instructor fast. And that was the time I knew I wanted to race on the Nordschleife, but I was just driving karts back then and I thought I needed some results to be able to prove that."
"2016 was the point I did not want to drive just karts anymore and I wanted to start with race cars. I had the luck to meet Adrenalin Motorsport's team owner, Matthias Unger, who lives near my hometown. I got the tip from a karting colleague to talk to him and so we made a plan of how to start racing in the Eifel. Normally, you need 100 laps minimum to start racing with the team on the Nordschleife.“
R: And how many had you done back then?
L: "As I drove my first RCN race, I had just 4 laps on the Nordschleife, because I never drove Tourist drives, just this BWM Driving Experience. But I made a track day with Adrenalin Mororsport and Matthias thought that my driving was very consistent and I was able to start my first race in a BMW Z4 - and in the rain."
R: Of course - immediately with rain.
L: "Yes, it was great. I came home, no damage, wasn't far behind in the group and it was so amazing. I was super nervous - radio communication, so many cars, the lines, turning on the fuel pump because of the additional tank and I forgot the tear-off the sheets for the laps and counted the laps in my head. During the pit stop they said 'you can just tear off the sheets, it's easier and you don't have to count by your own'. I just laughed about myself then. It was all the excitment, but it was clear, I wanted to drive again - absolute favorite track."
R: Do you follow and watch other motorsport series?
L: : "Yes, all of them! Since I was a kid I watched F1, DTM, Nascar, ChampCar, IRL and so forth.“
L: : "Yes, it was so crazy. I was in Portland for a student exchange and persuaded my teacher to drive me to the Portland International Raceway. It rained hard and I sat there and watched the cars 4 hours alone on the grandstand. At one point the security guy asked me if I wanted to come into the pit lane as I was the only one watching there for hours. All drivers were standing around there in the pits and I had some pictures taken together with them. A great day to remember.“
R: And it is awesome watching races in which you know some of the other drivers, either from the Nurbürgring or other races...
L: "Right, you watch the live stream and keep your fingers crossed and be happy for them."
R: That is the spirit of the sport. Now, we keep our fingers crossed for you, hopefully to see you again this year at the Nürburgring and then next year for the big dream - the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
"I love endurance racing and the team spirit to fight together."