Sabine Schmitz, racing driver and television personality has passed away at the age of 51. The TopGear co-host and famed “Queen Of The Nürburgring” had been battling cancer since 2017.
A successful racing driver in her own right, Sabine shot to fame when featured on the BBC television show in 2004, driving a Jaguar S-Type diesel around the Nurburgring. Comparing times with then-host Jeremy Clarkson, she famously mocked his run, saying, “I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van”.
Sabine went on to star in further episodes, in one of which she actually attempted to better JC’s earlier time in a van. She was later announced as a host of the revamped show following its retooling in 2016 and remained a guest host as TopGear cycled through presenters.
Sabine is the only woman to win the Nürburgring 24 Hours, winning it twice in 1996 and 1997, driving a BMW M3.
Growing up in the vicinity of the track, Schmitz often cited her affinity with the Nordschleife. She later drove the ‘Ring Taxi, treating guests to an exuberant tour of the track at break-neck speeds. By her own estimates, she had lapped the “Green Hell” at least 20,000 times.
In a post by Frikadelli Racing, the team founded by Schmitz and husband Klaus Abbelen, the sad news was delivered. “Sabine Schmitz (14.5.1969 – 16.3.2021) passed away yesterday (Tuesday) after her brave fight against cancer,” the team wrote on social media. “She was 51 years old. Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss.”