It's a sad day for car fans all over the globe as talented racing driving and occasional television host Sabine Schmitz passed away on Tuesday following a battle with cancer.
Schmitz, who was 51, first made it known she was ill via a social media post in July 2020 when she said she had been suffering from an “extremely persistent cancer” since late 2017.
Despite this, she continued with her public life, even starting the Frikadelli Racing team with husband Klaus Abbelen, and occasionally appearing on episodes of “Top Gear,” a show that helped bring her fame when in a 2004 episode she drove a van around the Nürburgring in an attempt to match the time set by former host Jeremy Clarkson in a Jaguar S-Type. She ended up missing the target by only a handful of seconds.
She had already made a name for herself as an expert at the Nürburgring well before her appearance on “Top Gear,” however. Schmitz's family owned a hotel and restaurant at the German racetrack and early on it appeared she would continue the family business, having taken up studies as a hotel manager and sommeliere.
Sabine Schmitz at the 1997 24 Hours of Nürburgring
However, she had been keen to become a racing driving since the age of 13. She completed her first lap on the 'Ring just four years later.
Schmitz achieved her goal of becoming a racing driver by the early 1990s. She managed a number of wins in various events including the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 1996 and 1997 (under her original name Sabine Reck) with Johannes Scheid in a BMW M3.
This success earned her the nickname 'Ring Queen, which she put to good use when she was started offering passenger rides on the Nürburgring, most famously with BMW. She was also an accomplished helicopter pilot.
“Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss,” Frikadelli Racing said in a statement.