Sabine Schmitz dead: Top Gear presenter and Queen of Nurburgring passes through age 51

Sabine Schmitz dead: Top Gear presenter and Queen of Nurburgring passes through age 51


German racing legend and Top Gear star Sabine Schmitz has died aged 51, it was announced today.

Schmitz, widely known as Queen of the Nurburgring, revealed last year that she had been battling cancer since 2017.

She was known for appearing on BBC’s Top Gear over the years.

Nurburgring, the iconic German racing track, said in a statement on Wednesday: “The Nurburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver. Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”

Schmitz explained in a social media post last year that her absence from the Nurburgring Endurance Series was due to cancer.

Top Gear and German racing legend Sabine Schmitz has tragically passed away aged 51 after a long battle with cancer.

Schmitz, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, was a familiar face on British television due to her spell on the BBC's flagship motor racing show over the years.

The TV star first appeared alongside Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May back in 2004 and retained a recurring role throughout various iterations of the show over the years.

She became an instant hit with fans after racing a Ford Transit van around the Nurburgring in an attempt to get under the 10 minute mark; a feat she missed out on by just eight seconds.

Last year Schmitz revealed she had been secretly battling cancer since 2017, having been forced to pull out of a racing event at the last minute. 

Nurburgring, the iconic German racing track which is regarded as one of the most challenging circuits in motorsport, revealed the tragic news of her death on Wednesday morning.

A statement read: "The Nurburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver.

"Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!"

Former Top Gear presenter Clarkson led the tributes, writing on Twitter: "Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans."

In a gut-wrenching post on social media last year, Schmitz explained that her absence from the Nurburgring Endurance Series race, despite being on the entry list, was due to her battle with cancer.

She wrote: "Dear friends of professional motor sport.

"Many of you have probably wondered why I was on the list of participants on our Porsche in the NSL and then didn’t drive after all.

"I would like to provide enlightenment here, I think I owe it to my/our fans!

"Since the end of 2017, I have been fighting an extremely persistent cancer that has not been eliminated with the resources so far. It got a little better – but now it’s come back with full force.

"Now I have to draw all the strength and nerve to master the next powerful therapies … hoping something [good] will happen. So I say goodbye 'probably' for the first time this season.

"In addition, I would like to thank everyone for their help and support in my everyday life, and encouragement in writing!

"So sweethearts, now you have an update. Please stay healthy and cheerful, see you at the ‘Ring.”

This Sunday's episode of Top Gear will be dedicated to German racing driver Sabine Schmitz after the age of 51.

"Sabine was a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presenting team since 2016, first appearing on the show in 2004," said Top Gear Team executive producer Clare Pize in a statement on behalf of the Top Gear team. And everyone was happy to be working with him in the team, shocked by this news.

The Queen of the Nurburgring, Sabine accentuated positivity, always wore her sly smile, no matter how difficult things got - and was a force of nature for female drivers in the world of motoring.Like everyone who knew him, we will really miss him - Sabine was really 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."

Schmitz grew up within the boundaries of Germany's iconic race track and earned the nickname "Queen of the Nurburgring" after estimating she completed more than 20,000 laps of the track.

The racing icon also became known as the 'world’s fastest taxi driver' by driving passengers around the track in a BMW M5.

She first appeared on Top Gear in 2004 alongside Jeremy Clarkson and then became a regular feature on the popular TV show. 

Following Clarkson's exit in 2015, Schmitz joined the revamped hosting line-up and retained a recurring role during the BBC's period of various presenters.

As well as Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, Schmitz also worked alongside Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff during her spell on Top Gear.

McGuinness paid tribute to Schmitz on social media, writing on Twitter: "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."