Nürburgring 24 winner and Nordschleife specialist Sabine Schmitz has passed away at the age of 51 after a long battle with cancer.
Widely regarded as the “Queen of the Nürburgring” for her expert knowledge of the challenging German track, Schmitz gained popularity for her racing performances and her role for several years as a ‘Ring Taxi’ passenger laps driver.
She won the Nürburgring 24 in 1996 and 1997, becoming the first woman to do so, and also achieved victories in several VLN endurance events.
Most of those VLN wins came with the Frikadelli Racing Team that she co-founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen in 2005.
A social media statement from the Frikadelli team on Wednesday morning read:
“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.”
In addition to her racing, Schmitz was known for her charismatic appearances on the BBC’s Top Gear television program.
Tributes have poured in from the motorsport and wider automotive world following Schmitz’s passing.
A statement from Porsche Motorsport read: “Very sad to hear that Sabine Schmitz has passed away. The “Queen of Nordschleife” was a crowd favorite due to her open, humorous way.
“The two-time Nürburgring 24 winner was an icon at the wheel of the Frikadelli Porsche. Our sympathy goes to her family and friends.”
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson described Schmitz as “such a sunny person” while a social media post from the Nürburgring official channel said those at the circuit would “miss her and her cheerful nature”.