'Queen of the Nurburgring' Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Sabine Schmitz, affectionally known as the ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’, has died at the age of 51 following a long battle with cancer.

'Queen of the Nurburgring' Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Schmitz became the first woman to win the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 1996, taking two victories in the historic sportscar race before enjoying a long career intrinsically linked to the circuit, as well as becoming known for her features on BBC programme Top Gear.

In a statement issued by Frikadelli Racing - the team she founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen - it was announced that Schmitz had lost her long battle against cancer and died at the age of 51 on Tuesday.

“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.”

Schmitz made history at the Nurburgring as the first female overall winner of the 24-hour race in 1996 before taking a second victory the following year.

She broke further ground in 1998, when she become the first woman to win the VLN Endurance Championship title in Germany.

 

Having grown up in Nurburg, it was perhaps inevitable that Schmitz’s career would be built on her success at the Nurburgring. Besides her sporting feats there, she was a driver of the ‘Ring Taxi’ for many years, and estimated she had completed more than 30,000 laps of the circuit.

Schmitz also made two guest appearances in the World Touring Car Championship at the Nurburgring, recording two points finishes in 2015 and 2016.

“The Nürburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver,” the track wrote on social media. “Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”

In 2017, Schmitz revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer, and despite efforts to make a return to racing in 2020, she said it had returned in “full force” and was proving “extremely persistent”.

Schmitz was best-known to British motorsport fans through her appearances on Top Gear at the Nurburgring, where she coached Jeremy Clarkson in a feature at the circuit before attempting to beat his lap time in a Ford Transit van. She went on to become one of the recurring hosts of Top Gear in 2016.

“Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz,” wrote Clarkson on social media. “Such a sunny person and so full of beans.”

shares
comments
Middle Eastern IGTC event to replace cancelled Suzuka 10 Hours

Previous article

Middle Eastern IGTC event to replace cancelled Suzuka 10 Hours

Next article

Heavy snow disrupts Nurburgring 24 Hours prep

Heavy snow disrupts Nurburgring 24 Hours prep
Load comments
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

GT
Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021
The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story Plus

The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story

The manufacturers were unconvinced – and even hostile – when Stephane Ratel launched GT3 in 2006. Now, 15 years on from its debut, they’ve sold more than 2000 cars and counting, but its continued expansion puts the increasingly globalised category at risk of losing its roots

GT
May 25, 2021
The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT Plus

The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT

With the Silver pairings that dominated 2020 now banned, Mercedes pair Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie could be in the box seat after winning last year's Pro-Am crown. But a swarm of Lamborghinis, with the defending outright champion among them, will ensure they face tough opposition

GT
May 21, 2021