The Nurburgring will never be the same.
Sabine Schmitz, who had been battling cancer since 2017, sadly passed away earlier today at the too-young age of 51. Known affectionately as the "Queen of the Nurburgring," Schmitz grew up at the famed track (her family owns a restaurant there) and became an accomplished racing driver.
In 1996, she became the first woman to achieve an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring at the wheel of the legendary BMW M3 "Eifelblitz." Her co-drivers were Johannes Scheid and Hans Widmann. She repeated that victory the following year. In 1998, she broke yet another barrier by becoming the first woman to become champion of the VLN endurance championship.
A few years later, she and her future husband founded the Frikadelli Racing team. In addition to her professional racing career, Schmitz was a Ring Taxi driver for many years with an estimated 30,000 laps completed around the Nordschleife.
Schmitz later gained even greater fame when she was introduced to an international audience on Top Gear. Before briefly becoming one of the show's co-hosts in 2016, she made several appearances and immediately earned the respect of millions of viewers for her driving skills, knowledge, sense of humor, and quick wit. She was also a presenter for DMAX and Sport 1.
Following her 2017 diagnosis with a rare form of cancer, Schmitz not only began immediate treatment with chemotherapy and several operations, she found the strength to continue to race, returning in 2019 to her beloved Nurburgring. Unfortunately, no matter how much she fought, the cancer returned more aggressive than ever.
Sabine Schmitz fought the disease for over three years the same way she competed on the track, with passion, courage, and fierce determination. Never afraid to break down borders, Schmitz was not about to let cancer get the best of her while she was alive. But ultimately, not all battles can be won, both on and off the track. CarBuzz sends our deepest condolences to Schmitz's family and friends.