Schmitz, in 2007
14 May 1969 |
|Other names||Sabine Reck, SpeedBee, Queen of the Ring|
Sabine Schmitz (Sabine Reck while married; born 14 May 1969) is a German professional motor racing driver for BMW and Porsche, also known for driving the BMW "Ring taxi" around the Nürburgring race track as well as being a television personality.
Born to the local hotel and restaurant owning Schmitz family, Sabine and her two elder sisters grew up in the "Hotel am Tiergarten" (in the basement of which is the Pistenklause restaurant) in Nürburg within the Nürburgring Nordschleife.[dead link]
Schmitz trained as Hotelfachfrau (graduate in hotel and catering business) and Sommelière. During her marriage to a hotelier she lived in Pulheim, but after her divorce in 2000, up until 2003, she owned a bar-restaurant in Nürburg named the Fuchsröhre (Foxhole) after a track section. In 2004 she qualified as a helicopter pilot.
Following occasional drives with the family car on the Nordschleife, all three sisters started racing, but only Sabine continued and collected victories. Schmitz won in CHC and VLN race events, the VLN endurance racing championship in 1998, and is the first woman to win a major 24h race, the 24 Hours Nürburgring, in 1996 and 1997, all with a BMW M3 entered and co-driven by local veteran Johannes Scheid. In 2006 Schmitz and Klaus Abbelen drove the #97 Porsche 997 in the Nürburgring VLN endurance racing series, entered by Land Motorsport. They finished a strong third in the 24h 2008, beaten only by the factory-backed Manthey-entered winners of 2007 and 2006.
Schmitz came to mass public attention driving one of the two BMW M5 "Ring taxi" around the 20.8 km long race track in an entertaining manner.
According to her own estimates, Schmitz has gone around the track more than 30,000 times, increasing by approximately 1200 per year. Her familiarity with the circuit earned her the nicknames "Queen of the Nürburgring" and "the fastest taxi driver in the world". She says her favourite parts of the track are Schwedenkreuz and Fuchsröhre.
Her company, Nürburgring-based Sabine Schmitz Motorsport, offers advanced driver training and a "Ring Taxi" service for passengers. Sabine herself ceased driving the "Ring Taxi" in 2011.
As a result of her popularity as "the fastest taxi driver in the world", and charisma, Schmitz became an occasional motorsport guest commentator, known for her gleefully dry descriptions of driving incidents. Since September 2006, Schmitz has co-hosted a motoring show on German television, D Motor on the DMAX TV channel. In each show, Schmitz takes on another challenge, for example Schmitz in a Ferrari 360 vs. a 1200 hp Race Truck, or Schmitz in a Formula Renault race car vs. a race sidecar.
Her first appearance on British television was on the 2002 BBC programme Jeremy Clarkson Meets the Neighbours, where she takes Jeremy around the Nürburgring in the "Ring Taxi".
In December 2004, Schmitz gained further recognition in the United Kingdom after appearing in the BBC television show Top Gear with presenter Jeremy Clarkson. After Clarkson (under her tutelage) set a lap time of 9 minutes 59 seconds around the Nürburgring in a Jaguar S-Type diesel (Season 5, Episode 5), she castigated his best lap with the comment "I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van". She did a lap in the Jaguar S-Type, and set a time of 9 minutes 12 seconds, beating him by 47 seconds. When trying to film Schmitz as she drove the S-Type, the film team were unable to keep up so used Jaguar test driver Wolfgang Schubauer to drive the Jaguar S-Type R chase car, meaning that much of the lap shown on the episode was not the 9 min. 12 sec. lap time.
Thus, in her second appearance on Top Gear, she actually drove a Ford Transit Diesel in an attempt to beat Clarkson's time set in the Jaguar S-Type diesel. Her final time with the Transit was 10 minutes and 8 seconds (Season 6, Episode 7). For this final lap the van was stripped and streamlined at the front with gaffer tape (Schmitz's belt, hubcaps, spare wheel, toolkit and Richard Hammond were removed) and a Dodge Viper was driven in front to help keep the "air clean" by providing a good slipstream to travel through.
Her third appearance was at the 2005 Top Gear Awards to collect the award for 'Best German' (Season 7, Episode 6).
Schmitz also appeared in the sixth episode of the Top Gear's 11th series, in a competition between the German motoring equivalent of Top Gear, on which she features, and the British Top Gear team. Both groups engaged each other in a series of challenges, in which Schmitz raced the Top Gear team in a double decker car race, and Clarkson in a one-on-one Mini challenge. She was victorious in both her events; however, due to the timely intervention of The Stig (substituting for James May in a contravention of the rules of the competition), the overall result was a win for the Top Gear team.
- 24 Hours Nürburgring: Overall winner in 1996 and 1997 (BMW), third in 2008 (Porsche), ninth in 2011 (Porsche), sixth in 2012 (Porsche)
- "Ben Lovejoy's Ringers FAQ". Nurburgring.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- McGrath, Ronan (6 July 2010). "The Queen of the 'Ring: Sabine Schmitz will not slow down". AutoWeek. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Sabine Schmitz talks to AUSringers". ausringers.com. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Jaguar S-type diesel at the ring". Top Gear (BBC). 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Ward, Victoria (2011-01-24). "Top Gear: is the new Stig a woman?". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Schmitz on the Nürburgring followed by a Porsche 996 GT3 Google video
- Schmitz at the ring, tuned Porsche GT2 vs Caterham CSR260 YouTube video, German
- Nordschleife Tours - Nürburgring Google video, English, Sabine Schmitz at 10:02,20:00
- Part 1, Part 2 One Lap with Ford Transit (diesel) in 10:08 at TopGear
- Dmotor challenge: Schmitz in a 500hp Dodge Viper vs. a 164hp race kart with a Honda CBR 1100 Blackbird engine YouTube video, German