Revheads gather ‘round – we’re about to tell you where you can travel to (legally) satisfy your need for speed. JANIE MEDBURY hits the road.
Aussies may remember it was once legal to drive at any speed limit in the remote Northern Territory outback, on a 300-kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Tenant Creek.
Locally known as ‘the Bitumen’, the highway was, alas, restricted to 130 kilometres per hour in 2016, which means those of us who want to experience the freedom of unrestricted speed must fly across the pond to do so.
As it currently stands, there are only two places in the world with an unrestricted speed limit – Germany and the Isle of Man. Both countries also happen to be beautiful destinations, so it’s a win-win for speed-hungry travellers.
The lack of general speed limit combined with smooth road surface and typically sensible drivers combine to make the German Autobahn a dream-come-true for motoring enthusiasts.
Although the 30,000-kilometre highway network dates back to the 1920s, it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that people outside the country began to travel to Germany with the intent of experiencing the open-speed road.
This resulted in the emergence of ‘speed tourism’, a relatively recent phenomenon coined by German researcher Matthias Gross, which he defines as a “special form of tourism that involves viewing the driving experience as an opportunity for either testing the capacity of one’s own car or driving it at high speed as a way of experiencing the native culture at firsthand” (Tourist Studies, 2020).
Although the government recommends that drivers travel a maximum speed of around 130 kilometres per hour, they are free to go as fast as they please on the unrestricted sections – which accounts for around 50 per cent of the network.
The remaining sections, which are narrow, close to towns, or otherwise dangerous, have a strict speed limit. The round white signs declaring “end of all speed bans” indicate when you can put your pedal to the metal.
The concept of a speedless road may be as unsettling as it is exciting, but you can rest easy knowing that the Autobahn is relatively safe – in fact, it experiences fewer vehicle-related fatalities than American highways.
Encompassing 150 kilometres, the A24 between Hamburg and Berlin is the longest derestricted section of the Autobahn. For an overnight stop, exit at the Kreuz Hamburg-Ost motorway interchange and check into the idyllic NH Hamburg Horner Rennbahn, which offers reasonably priced room rates and secure parking.
Give your hard-working motor a chance to cool down by stopping at popular attractions along the way, from auto and historical museums to medieval castles and cathedrals. Co-pilot a Porsche on the test track at the Porsche Factory in Leipsiz, and visit the Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century Gothic palace overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria.
Motion Drive Rental’s German Autobahn Experience lets you get behind the wheel of an exotic supercar and put your driving skills to the test for an unforgettable 30 or 60 minutes under the guidance of an experienced instructor.
With an incredible selection of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti and more to choose from, you are sure to get your fill of full throttle thrills – ready, set, fahren!
The Isle of Man
One would hardly guess that the Isle of Man, a 570-square-kilometre rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, home to sleepy villages and tranquil countryside, is also a haven for revheads.
The island’s claim to fame is the Isle of Man TT, one of the world’s deadliest races. The annual event, which boasts a 100-year history, sees daring motorcyclists navigate a relentless series of twists and turns over two action-filled weeks during May/June.
Surrounded by sea and rolling green hills, the roads are visually appealing as much as they are thrilling, and thankfully, you needn’t be a professional rider or driver to enjoy the infamous rural road circuit that forms part of the TT race.
Open for public use, the Mountain Course is free of a speed limit. In fact, since 1904 when the local governor derestricted local roads to entice motoring enthusiast visitors, you can go as fast as you please on around 30% of the island’s highway network.
Although you will still need to comply with speed limits in built-up areas, commuters are generally trusted to drive at a speed that is safe and appropriate.
Some sections of these winding roads can be particularly tricky, so it pays to brush up on your cornering and rev-matching skills before you push the limits. Hire a sports car to make the most of the experience!
During your visit, check out the Isle of Man Motor Museum to discover the island’s rich motoring history and see an impressive collection of some 500-plus vehicles, including classic motorcycles and iconic vehicles including a 1952 Cadillac “flower car”.