Racing driver Sabine Schmitz tragically passed away, the Nürburgring announced Wednesday.
She’s the ‘Queen of the ‘Ring’ and a former Top Gear presenter alongside Chris Evans, as well as an iconic guest on the car show in 2004 when she beat Jeremy Clarkson around the Nordschleife in a diesel-powered van. Tragically, the German race track announced Tuesday that Schmitz had passed away after a years-long battle with a rare cancer.
“The Nürburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver. Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”, the statement said as a tribute to not just a legendary racing driver, but one of the most iconic women in motorsport.
Schmitz is the only woman so far to win the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, conquering the endurance race in 1996 in a BMW M3 with Johannes Scheid and Hans Widmann. She also won the following year, again with co-driver Scheid. She went in to attract mass attention by driving one of two BMW M5 “ring taxis” (shown above) around the 12.94-mile course, and going around one of the world’s most demanding race tracks more than 20,000 times in her career.
Beyond the racing community, former and current Top Gear presenters also paid tribute to Schmitz Wednesday. “She gave me pointers on how to drive a Ferrari very fast and hunted me down in a banger race. Brilliantly bonkers and an amazing human being! RIP Sabine Schmitz,” tweeted current presenter Paddy McGuinness. Former host Jeremy Clarkson, whom Schmitz thoroughly clobbered in the above van challenge, also tweeted out: “Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.”
We’re deeply saddened by the news, and offer our condolences along with so many others to Sabine Schmitz’s family and friends during this difficult time.