Sabine Schmitz, often referred to as the Queen of the Nurburgring, has passed away from cancer at the age of 51.
She was the first woman to win the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, doing so in 1996. She won the race twice as part of a long, successful career that also saw her become a fixture on Top Gear.
She and her husband, Klaus Abbelen, founded Frikadelli Racing. The team made the announcement on social media.
“Sabine Schmitz (14.5.1969 – 16.3.2021) passed away yesterday (Tuesday) after her brave fight against cancer. She was 51 years old. Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss.”
Schmitz was a local made good, having grown up in Nurburg, near the track. According to reports, she estimated that she’d lapped the track more than 30,000 times.
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, and had hoped to return to racing in 2020, but her illness prevented her from doing so.
The Nurburgring also posted a tribute on social media: “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!”
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson also posted a touching social-media tribute to his colleague, who was one of a cast of rotating Top Gear hosts in 2016: “Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.”
RIP Sabine Schmitz.[Image: Frikadelli Racing Twitter]