There are countless ways to win as a racing driver. Yes, you can win a victory. You can take a championship. You can set a record, do something no one else has done. But there’s a unique honor that comes by having a corner of a race track named after you. And that’s what the Nürburgring has done with Sabine Schmitz to remember the legacy of the woman who was the ‘Ring.
The very first curve at the Nordschleife has now been named the Sabine-Schmitz-Kurve.
Schmitz grew up in Nürburg, where her family owned the restaurant in the basement of the Hotel am Tiergarten—meaning that she quite literally grew up at the circuit. Her family was intimately tied to the racing that went on at the track, so it was no surprise that she would grow up to become a successful racer in her own right after training to be a sommelier and hotelier.
Schmitz was the first woman to win the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring and the first woman to win the VLN Endurance Championship. When she wasn’t competing, she was running the so-called ‘Ring taxi, in which she gave terrified passengers a quick lap around the circuit. By her estimation, she had driven the circuit no fewer than 30,000 times.
Drivers may have home tracks, but it’s rare for one to be as intimately connected to a single circuit as Sabine Schmitz was with the Nürburgring. If you looked at the pattern of her DNA, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see the track layout itself twisting in amongst the double helixes. Her death of cancer earlier this year at age 51 was a tragedy; the ‘Ring isn’t going to be the same without her infectious smile, mischievous attitude, and speed.
But we’ll be able to remember her every time a driver enters that first turn at the Nordschleife. There will be an official induction ceremony on September 11, 2021 for the Six Hour event.