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Sabine Schmitz: 1969 – 2021

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Sabine Schmitz with her partner Klaus Abbelen. Credit: Porsche Motorsport

The racing world is mourning the loss of a legend today after the news that Sabine Schmitz has lost her long battle with cancer. The loss of the 51 year old racing driver, hotelier and TV personality will be especially felt at the Nurburgring, a circuit her name will be forever linked with.

Sabine began her driving career as a teenager, modifying the family car into a ‘Ring Special’ to lap the Nordschlieffe. Her racing career saw her contest the 24H Rennen on the Nurburgring 15 times, standing on the podium four times and claiming two overall victories. She was the first woman to win the 24 Hours of Nurburgring and the first woman to win it twice.

Her work on the Nordschlieffe also saw her driving the ‘Ring Taxi’, bringing prominence and respect from the community at ‘The Green Hell’. She also maintained a broadcasting career on German media.

Sabine Schmitz found broader fame when she starred as a guest on BBC’s TopGear, beating Jeremy Clarkson’s lap time in a Jaguar at the wheel of a Ford Transit van. When the BBC rebooted TopGear, Schmitz joined the team of regular presenters.

In later years Schmitz focussed her racing activities on the family’s business, Frikadelli Racing, a highlight being the third place overall in 2008, behind only the factory supported Manthey Racing Porsches. Other racing achievements include 12th in class at the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona with Frikadelli, points scoring efforts in the Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze in the WTCC in 2015 and 2016 on her home circuit along with efforts at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, a season in the South African Touring Car Championship and outings in Grand-Am.

She also found time to work in the family hotel, near the circuit where her own estimates say she completed over 30,000 laps.

Sabine Schmitz is survived by her partner Klaus Abbelen. extend our condolences to her family, friends and the community of enthusiasts at the Nurburgring who mourn her death.

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I am a photographer, writer and podcast presenter, specialising in GT and Endurance racing. I've been with The Checkered Flag since 2014, covering a wide range of racing series from Formula Ford to Formula 1, with British GT the main focus of my work. You can hear me monthly on the British GT Fans Show which can be found in our Recommended Listening section.
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