Trying to separate Sabine Schmitz from the Nordschleife doesn't make any sense. She grew up at the track and essentially lived on it in every conveivable way. She was the queen of the Nordschleife and also its most famous resident; someone who defined the track—and more importantly—what it meant to drive it.
It's only fitting that Sabine is paid tribute at the track itself, after her much-too-young death back in March, following a fight with cancer. Turn 1 of the Nordschleife has been renamed, becoming Sabine Schmitz Kurve, to honor her at the start of every lap taken at a circuit that is, without doubt, hers.
There had already been a commemorative lap led by the 1996 BMW M3 "Eifelblitz" car Sabine won the Nürburgring 24 Hour race with back in 1996 and 1997, driven by her longtime co-driver Johannes Scheid. It was a fitting tribute, as part of the 2021 version of the race, where 11 women racers were among the drivers trying to follow in Sabine's tire tracks.
Renaming the first corner of the Nordschleife is even better though. Now, whenever you cross the start/finish line at track, Sabine Schmitz will be ahead, and every lap will start with her sending you on your way.
“Sabine Schmitz was the ambassador of the Nürburgring," said Nürburgring Managing Director Mirco Markfort in a statement to the press. "Her name was mentioned around the globe in the same breath as our race track."
"[Her name] still stands for what defines the Nürburgring: the close connection to the region, the close proximity to the fans and the passionate commitment.”
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