Tributes for pioneering racer

Sabine Schmitz
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Both the sporting and entertainment worlds have paid tribute to Queen of the Nürburgring Sabine Schmitz, who died age 51 in March after a long battle with cancer.

Schmitz was a prominent figure in racing and TV thanks to her star performances at the ’Ring, and her appearances on German and British motoring shows. She became the first and only female driver to win the Nürburgring 24 Hours when she was part of the Scheid Motorsport crew that celebrated back-to-back victories with its BMW E36 M3 in 1996 and ’97.

Schmitz gained local fame through being the BMW Ring Taxi driver, offering hot laps to corporate guests and customers alike. Her flamboyant driving style and natural charisma led to her securing roles with German TV shows, before she first appeared on UK screens in an episode of Jeremy Clarkson: Meets the Neighbours in 2002. That led to an expanded role with Top Gear. In 2016 she became a full-time host for series 23, and is believed to have clocked up over 20,000 laps of the Nordschleife across her career. She revealed that she had been battling a persistent form of cancer since 2017. She died on March 16, 2021.

Current Top Gear presenter Chris Harris described Schmitz as a “wonderful, powerful, hilarious person”. Clarkson added: “Such a sunny person, so full of beans.”