The passing of Sabine Schmitz has brought with it overpowering grief and dismay around the globe. Motorsport has lost a Nordschleife icon: her lively and quick-witted style inspired so many of us, both on and off the racetrack.
Following a long battle with cancer, Sabine Schmitz was taken from us much too early at the age of merely 51. Her passing was a shock to many, with her unrestrained zest for life being called on in her fight against the condition to the very end.
It has been a great time since parting farewell to a racing driver has struck the motor racing community so profoundly. SpeedBee, as enthusiasts affectionately named her, was a legend during her own lifetime.
Countless gestures in the paddock of the Nürburgring reinforced the heartache experienced by the community. During the Nürburgring Endurance Series season-opening round, nearly all teams paid respect to Sabine Schmitz with a special remembrance.
Several racing cars carried her name as the additional driver. Other vehicles resembled rolling books of sympathy. Virtually everyone had an intimate story or funny tale to share that connected them to the Nürburg native. Her death clearly underlines how much many people valued her.
At times underestimated in Germany, contributed by her down-to-earth nature, Sabine Schmitz was internationally renowned. She won over the public thanks to her lighthearted and positive disposition, her witty banter, and, it goes without saying, her audacious drives through the Green Hell. Her glowing personality quickly transformed her into an early YouTube celebrity – whether it was driving a GT3 Porsche, a Ford Transit, or at the wheel of the ‘Ring taxi.’
Over 30,000 Laps n the Nürburgring
The champion of the Endurance Series and two-time victor of the Nürburgring 24-hour race took great delight in terrorizing her passengers between Hatzenbach and the Hohenrain chicane. Subsequently, several of them had to drastically modify the theories of their own driving skills and shared their memorable adventures around the globe.
She remembers lapping her favorite track greater than 30,000 times, the initial time in her mother Ursula’s vehicle– without a license. With her featuring on the BBC car program Top Gear, Sabine was propelled into the international spotlight.
Sabine Schmitz wasn’t especially taken in her by her star status. The ‘Nordschleife Queen’ retained her feet firmly on the ground and forever approachable.
In her own amusing way, she developed very personal memories out of every selfie, and would never reject an autograph request. Thousands of pictures, photos must be out there with her autograph on them.
Reliably, she always had a kind word at disposal – her quick wit was though both loved and dreaded. Her laughter was infectious with neither friend nor foe spared. “He looks like he’s off the rails again today …” she’d cry out when a teammate took an unintended slide along the guardrails. “He’s so slow I could’ve done an oil painting of him,” was one of her playful catchphrases when an opponent was not quick enough, whom she viewed from the saddle of her horse someplace along the circuit.
Sabine Schmitz was the greatest ambassador for the Nordschleife, the Endurance Series’s soul, and the heart of the 24-hour race on the Eifel circuit. Fans and motorsport enthusiasts have long declared their desire to dedicate a passage of the Nordschleife to her. In doing so, she will remain a part of her beloved racetrack always and remain in the memories of her countless supporters.
[Source: Porsche AG, photos courtesy of Porsche AG]