Tributes to Sabine Schmitz have poured in from every sport of the motorsports and enthusiast communities since her death was announced yesterday. The undisputed Queen of the Nürburgring, Sabine thrilled us with her enthusiasm and expertise of the track she knew like home. Because it was literally her home.
Of all the forms of recognition Sabine deserves — and she deserves many — the bare minimum, the given, would be to name a corner after her on the track she understood like nobody else. And that’s exactly what fans are petitioning to do on Change.org, thanks to an effort started by Bridge To Gantry’s Dale Lomas. At the time I’m writing this, nearly 13,700 signatures have been recorded.
The question then, I suppose, becomes which corner should be bestowed with Sabine’s name. The exact number of corners on the Nordschleife is often disputed, since it’s heavily dependent on what someone considers to be a corner in the first place. A popular, conservative analysis finds 73 turns; on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s said to be 170. Either way, we’re presented with many choices.
But maybe this isn’t a choice anyone should be making, because Sabine’s already made it for us. In an interview with Ausringers from all the way back in 2008, she shared her favorite stretch of the Green Hell:
AR: Is there any part of the track that you always find difficult to get right, alternatively which part of the track do you most look forward to every lap?
SS: Yes, the GP Circuit. I hate it! The most exciting part I love very much is Schwedenkreuz and Fuchsröhre.
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For those without a meticulously notated mental map of the Nordschleife (that includes yours truly), Schwedenkreuz is the first extremely fast section of the circuit you encounter on a lap. It’s a long and irregularly-shaped left-hand sweeper, festooned with bumps that can jettison you off course at exceptional speed if you’re not careful. From there you descend into the Aremberg hairpin, which, depending on how you navigated Schwedenkreuz, could make or break your lap.
And then there’s Fuchsröhre, or Foxhole. I’ve never been lucky enough to drive the Nürburgring in real life, but in my hundreds of laps in racing simulators, this is always the part where I clench my teeth the hardest. It’s not only quick, but exceptionally steep, going both down and up, and there’s really no runoff on either side. I can understand why Sabine prefers it — she did get a kick out of spooking her passengers, after all.
It probably goes without saying, then, that I think either Schwedenkreuz or Fuchsröhre — or both — should be named to honor Sabine in some way. Maybe an aspect of them, maybe the whole. I don’t really care how it’s done, just that it is. Because every single time someone braves those corners in the future and inevitably feels the goosebumps, there should be a clear reminder of the woman who did it better than anyone — and looked forward to every single second of it.