German race car driver and former Top Gear host Sabine Schmitz has sadly passed away at 51 following a lengthy battle with cancer. Schmitz revealed last year that she had been suffering from cancer since 2017.
“The Nürburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver,” the official account of the Nürburgring racing team tweeted. “Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”
Schmitz was widely known as the “Queen of the Nürburgring” and was one of motor racing’s highest profile female drivers.
The racing legend grew up in western Germany. She became the first woman to win the prestigious Nürburgring 24-hour race in 1996. The following year, she repeated the same feat. Schmitz also raced for the Porsche motorsport team.
#NLS - Very sad to hear that Sabine Schmitz (1969-2021) has passed away. The "Queen of Nordschleife" was a crowd favourite due to her open, humorous way. The two-time @24hNBR winner was an icon at the wheel of the #Frikadelli #Porsche. Our sympathy goes to her family and friends pic.twitter.com/ZHXbC1R6Wk— Porsche Motorsport (@PorscheRaces) March 17, 2021
“Very sad to hear that Sabine Schmitz (1969-2021) has passed away. The 'Queen of Nordschleife' was a crowd favorite due to her open, humorous way,” the official Porsche motorsport account tweeted. “The two-time @24hNBR winner was an icon at the wheel of the #Frikadelli #Porsche. Our sympathy goes to her family and friends.”
The infamous race car driver went on to make multiple appearances on the BBC show Top Gear. She became known for hilariously making her passengers sick because of the speed with which she drove.
This Sunday’s episode of Top Gear will be dedicated to the late Schmitz. The show’s executive producer Clare Pizey issued a statement. “Sabine was a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presenting team since 2016, having first appeared on the show in 2004, and everyone who had the pleasure of working with her on the team is in shock at this news,” she said, according to Deadline.
Pizey continued: “Sabine radiated positivity, always wore her cheeky smile no matter how hard things got — and was a force of nature for women drivers in the motoring world. Like everyone else who knew her, we will truly miss her — Sabine really was one of a kind. Our thoughts are with her partner Klaus, who was always by her side and who we welcomed to Dunsfold many times, and her family in Germany.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see people's tributes about the late race car driver.
Pioneer, champion, Queen of the Nurburgring— Formula 1 (@F1) March 17, 2021
Sabine Schmitz was a unique, much-loved and cherished member of our sport's family, and a force of nature for inspiring a new generation of motorsport enthusiasts
Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time pic.twitter.com/nwrLyZvXla
Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 17, 2021
I’m very sad to hear of the passing of Sabine Schmitz, the only woman to have won the #Nürburgring24Hours, rightly known as ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’, & a star of @BBC_TopGear, who’s succumbed to cancer, aged just 51. #RIPSabineSchmitz pic.twitter.com/LHg5ndr8tO— Matt Bishop (@TheBishF1) March 17, 2021
We are saddened by the loss of Sabine Schmitz.— DRIVETRIBE (@DRIVETRIBE) March 17, 2021
Beyond almost beating Clarkson in a Ford Transit and a number of other Top Gear appearances, Sabine was a talented racer, winning the infamous Nürburgring 24h on multiple occasions.
The Queen of the Nordschleife 👑 pic.twitter.com/KXg2SQ3BRL