Nürburgring legend Sabine Schmitz has died, aged just 51, following a three-year battle with cancer.
All that share a love of cars will remember Sabine, from her appearances on Top Gear to her inseparable association with the “Green Hell”. Her unofficial title of “Queen of the ‘Ring” is well-deserved, with two Nurburgring 24 hours wins under her belt in 1996 and 1997.
That’s without mentioning Sabine's time driving the so-called BMW ‘ring taxis’. In doing so, she quickly built a rapport with regulars at the infamous circuit. She estimated she covered 1,200 laps over the course of a year, over 20,000 in total, fully earning the affectionate title of “fastest taxi driver in the world”.
It was during her tenure as ‘Ring taxi maestro that Sabine first met Jeremy Clarkson on his ‘Meets the Neighbours’ programme in 2002. She clearly made quite the impression.
Sabine really shot to fame among UK Nordschleife fans and car lovers alike following her appearances on Top Gear in 2004, being the only woman for the job of chaperoning the ham-fisted Clarkson on his mission to lap a Jaguar S-Type around the 'Ring. The world got a taste of Sabine’s infectious and lovable personality, as she proclaimed energetically she could beat the time Jeremy set in the Jag, but driving in a van.
True to her word, Sabine got a Transit, had it stripped and hired a be-winged Dodge Viper to follow for some clean air. With the added weight of Richard Hammond in the passenger seat, she matched the 10:08 time Clarkson set in the Jaguar.
It came as no surprise to anyone that she got TV work in Germany not two years later. Just as fitting was the announcement that Sabine would be one of the hosts to be taking on Top Gear UK in 2016, following the exit of her old ‘Ring nemesis.
As energetic as her driving style, Sabine was a personality that those who knew her and know of her will be unable to forget.