Sabine Schmitz, the German racing driver who served as a presenter on BBC hit Top Gear, has died at the age of 51.
Schmitz revealed last year that she had been suffering from cancer since 2017. Known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, her death has prompted tributes from the BBC, the team behind Amazon’s The Grand Tour, and the motor racing world.
Top Gear executive producer Clare Pizey said: “Sabine was a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presenting team since 2016, having first appeared on the show in 2004, and everyone who had the pleasure of working with her on the team is in shock at this news.
“The ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’, Sabine radiated positivity, always wore her cheeky smile no matter how hard things got – and was a force of nature for women drivers in the motoring world. Like everyone else who knew her, we will truly miss her – Sabine really was one of a kind. Our thoughts are with her partner Klaus who was always by her side and who we welcomed to Dunsfold many times, and her family in Germany.”
Other Top Gear figures remembered Schmitz, including Jeremy Clackson, who tweeted:
Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 17, 2021
Current presenter Paddy McGuinness added:
She gave me pointers on how to drive a Ferrari very fast and hunted me down in a banger race. Brilliantly bonkers and an amazing human being! RIP the great Sabine Schmitz. pic.twitter.com/awtbOnMD90
— Paddy McGuinness 💙 (@PaddyMcGuinness) March 17, 2021
Co-host Chris Harris said:
Rest in peace you wonderful, powerful, hilarious person. pic.twitter.com/nwXgBwZsbE
— chris harris (@harrismonkey) March 17, 2021
Former presenter James May added: “I never thought car makers should be at the ‘Ring, but I always thought Sabine Schmitz should, and would, be. Rotten news.” Richard Hammond said: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Sabine Schmitz, a proper driving legend who’ll be sadly missed by many.”
Although she appeared on Top Gear many times over the years, she was synonymous with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc’s period hosting the BBC Studios motoring brand from 2016. She became known for making her passengers sick because of the speed with which she drove.
Schmitz grew up in her parents’ hotel just meters away from the legendary Nürburgring track and has spent her life surrounded by cars and racing. She became the first woman to win the prestigious Nürburgring 24 hour race in 1996.
Sunday’s episode of Top Gear will be dedicated to Schmitz.
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