Nürburgring officials have named a corner after the late Sabine Schmitz, the racing driver known as the 'Ring Queen, who died earlier this year at age 51 following a battle with cancer.
Sabine-Schmitz-Kurve is the first corner of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. It will be inaugurated during an upcoming 6-hour endurance race scheduled for Sept. 11, a track press release said.
Schmitz grew up in the town of Nürburg, Germany, just a few yards from the corner that now bears her name. Her family owned a hotel and restaurant, and early on it appeared she would continue the family business, having studied to be a hotel manager and sommelier.
Sabine Schmitz at the 1997 24 Hours of Nürburgring
However, she soon took up racing, quickly becoming a 'Ring expert. She won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 1996 and 1997 (under her original name Sabine Reck) with Johannes Scheid in a BMW M3. She remains the only woman to win that race.
That success earned Schmitz the 'Ring Queen nickname, which she built upon by giving rides around the track, most famously with BMW. She also got worldwide attention for appearing on "Top Gear," most famously in 2004, when she drove a van around the Nordschleife in an attempt to beat a time set by former host Jeremy Clarkson in a diesel Jaguar S-Type. She missed the target by just a few seconds.
"Sabine Schmitz was the ambassador of the Nürburgring. Her name was mentioned around the globe in the same breath as our racetrack," Nürburgring managing director Mirco Markfort said in a statement. "It still stands for what defines the Nürburgring: the close connection to the region, the close proximity to the fans, and the passionate commitment."
Now, the 'Ring Queen has a fitting honor.