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I was very much saddened to see this news this morning.  I was aware that Sabine was fighting cancer but was optimistic that she would pull through.  Sadly that is not the case.

 

Sabine Schmitz Dies at age 51.

 

Two memories stand out for me beyond her BMW 'Ring Taxi driving, DMAX and Top Gear TV presenter roles, and 24Hrs of the 'Ring victories;

 

1) Transit Van at the 'Ring

 

 

 

2) I met her once.  While wandering thru the paddock, er, parking lot, at the 'Ring, she saw me and walked up to me to look at my T-shirt.  Upon inspection she introduced herself, as if I didn't know who she was, and asked me in jest if I didn't think that she should get a royalty.  She then produced a Sharpie and autographed my shirt!  A truly delightful moment.

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Something like twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Sabine on my first visit to the Nurburgring. This was before her Top Gear fame in a Ford Transit van. She was my instructor for two full days to help me find my feet in a rented track prepared Alfa 75.  So she takes me out in a BMW M5 and roughly a third of the way around, interrupts her narrative to kindly pull over on the side of the track to let me throw up so I would not redecorate the interior.  "Don't you vomit in the car or I will make you clean it with a toothbrush!" Then we went out in the Alfa 75.  Her TV persona was the her real one in her normal life - straight to the point.  "Why are you there?  You should be over there!"   "Faster"    "You are going to kill us!"  "You idiot, why are you doing that?" "My grandmother drives faster than you!"  were all lines I recall being said, sometimes more than once.  It was never malicious and was always said in such a way that usually had me or more likely both of us laughing, once to the point where I pulled over on the side of the circuit and stopped to recover as I was crying so much with tears of laughter, I could not see.  "You are quick to stop, why not quick to go?"  She she managed to lift my knowledge up enough that I could strike out on my own and progressively build up adequate Nurburgring knowledge to keep a rank beginner out of trouble.   

 

Her personality was larger than life and welcoming of everyone.  Brilliant driver.  Wonderful kind person.  She will be sorely missed. 

 

RIP Sabine.  

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Great story Croc, great story/T-shirt Ron! I had not seen the transit van video. It was pretty terrifying:"Turn transit van, turn!"

 

Cancer is death's wild card, no age is safe. I was at a party  pre-covid and of the 20 folks (my age), half were cancer survivors. No deaths so far, fingers crossed.

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Great stories Ron and Croc.  Very sad to hear the news of her passing. She was unique!  RIP Sabine....

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If you want a sense for what an staggeringly good driver Sabine was, then watch this video.  The car started in 30-something position.  By the end of lap 1 she was third.  By end of lap 2 she was leading.  Its raining yet look at the speed she carries through the corners.  

 

 

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Pretty dazzling! She is so smart. She never puts her car in a position to get taken out by a dumb move by the car she is passing. She is very patient and chooses her passing spots judiciously.

 

Listen to her engine, you dont hear the typical tell tale on/off of the engine revs as  she moderates her speed perfectly thru turns. More go, less slow.

 

The two leaders, who had left the field for dead, must have been shocked when she came flying out of nowhere to track them down.

 

And purists can moan and groan all they want, the advantages of paddle shifters vs, the old, slow, imprecise but  much beloved manual transmissions are so clear in this video.

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To watch Sabine hustle a Transit Van around the "Ring" gives me hope for autocrossing my new 2020 Honda Civic Si that is a national class winner in SCCA G Street. I am having to get used to the turbo hang of the 1.5l engine and relatively low horsepower (206). And, the fact that I am driving a 4-door sedan. I did put 200 DOT Yokohoma's on the car and am looking forward to my second autox with the car in mid April on a track with excellent grip. 

 

Croc, Thanks for sharing your story about Sabine. In watching a few videos about her, she appeared to be larger than life! She may have had her life cut short but certainly did not seem to miss any tricks in living a very full life. BTW, I sold the Corvette after 14 months and 9300 miles. Too porky for my tastes after coming out of sevenesque cars.

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Hi Mike,

I've been on hold for a couple hours with an airline trying to make a reservation to bring our dog back from the Big Island to UT. I've been killing the time watching Sabine videos. I can't imagine how thankful you must feel to have actually been personally been taught the fast way around the Ring by this amazing woman. What a great experience.

Jim

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