Sabine Schmitz, who died this week age 51 after a long battle with cancer, became known to many of us through those early appearances on Top Gear. Who can forget the line, “I tell you something – I do that lap time in a van?”, uttered in response to what she deemed a sub-par effort from Jeremy Clarkson in a Jaguar S-Type. Later, she came incredibly close to doing just that.
For a lot of petrolheads, Schmitz and her incredible driving on TV gave our first proper introduction to the Nordschleife. But she was a legend long before that. Amidst her many motorsport achievements, she won the 1996 and 1997 24 Hours of Nurburgring and remains the only woman to do so. Schmitz was born in Adenau, right next to the track, and clocked tens of thousands of laps over the years, many in the E39 and E60 BMW M5 ‘Ring Taxi vehicles. She lived and breathed the place in a way few others did, and while it’s been great to see online tributes flooding in, there really ought to be something more permanent. One suggestion involves naming a corner after her.
Dale Lomas of Nurburgring bible Bridge to Gantry has started a petition urging officials to do just that. At the time of writing, it’s at just over 10,000 signatures, despite only going live a day ago.
Renaming a bend after Sabine isn’t as hard as you’d imagine. Those bits of the track like Brünnchen and Wippermann that ‘Ring geeks can reel off are sections that encompass multiple corners. In all, there are 170 corners, many of which aren’t individually named.
A corner named after Sabine Schmitz would be a fitting tribute to one of the area’s most famous and revered residents, we reckon. The petition can be signed here.