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In Memory Of Sabine Schmitz, Here’s Her Famous Ford Transit Nurburgring Lap

Nicknamed “Queen of the Nurburgring” for driving the track some-1,200 laps per year, Sabine Schmitz was a race car driver and TV personality who gained international fame after appearing on Top Gear.

On March 16, 2021, Sabine Schmitz tragically died of cancer at the age of just 51, after being diagnosed in 2017.

Sabine was best known for her appearance on Top Gear when she and Richard Hammond attempted to beat a lap time set by Jeremy Clarkson around the infamous Nurburgring racetrack in Nurburg, Germany. While Clarkson set a time of 10 minutes in a Jaguar Type-S, Sabine and Richard decided to attack the ring with an almost-stock Ford Transit Van. For reference, a BMW M2 Competition sets a time of around 7 minutes, 52 seconds.

Read More: Nürburgring Honors Sabine Schmitz’s Memory, Names Corner After Her

With just 136-horsepower and a 0-60 time of 21 seconds, it seemed like it would be impossible for the van to even come close to the Jag, but the numbers don’t take into account Sabine’s skill. Unfortunately, even after several attempts, the van would end up being just eight seconds slower than the Jaguar, but the feat cemented Sabine as a genuine badass.

Pre-Top Gear

Before appearing on television, Sabine earned her place in history in 1996 when she became the first woman to win the Nurburgring 24 hour endurance race. She would go on to win again in 1997, both times with a BMW M3 Group N.

Schmitz garnered the attention of the mass public when she began to operate one of two “ring taxis”, which were a pair E60 BMW M5s lightly modified for track use.

In 2002, Jeremy Clarkson would feature Schmitz on his program “Meet The Neighbours”, where she took Clarkson for a lap around in the Nurburgring in a ring taxi, setting of the catalyst for what would become one of the most epic Top Gear segments of all time.

If there was ever any doubt of Sabine’s skill, this video of her driving a 2013 Porsche 911 GT3 R around a very wet track during a VLN race should put them to rest.

Photo courtesy Top Gear Youtube


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