German racing driver and television star Sabine Schmitz died on Thursday after a four-year battle with cancer. She was 51. The Frikadelli Racing Team, which she founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen, confirmed Schmitz's death on Twitter.
Schmitz became the first (and still only) female race car driver to win the annual 24-hour race on the Nürburgring circuit in her home country back in 1996. She drove an estimated 20,000 laps on the famous track and also won the race in 1997.
Schmitz was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and stopped racing in 2019, according to the Associated Press.
"I have been fighting an extremely persistent cancer that has not been eliminated with the resources so far," Schmitz posted last July regarding her cancer. "It got a little better – but now it's come back with full force."
Schmitz has been around the racing circuit throughout her entire life as she grew up near the 13-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife. She ended up becoming one of the track's most successful drivers and even earned the nickname "Queen of the Ring."
The driver also gain famed for appearing on the popular BBC show "Top Gear" in 2002. Along with host Richard Hammond, Schmitz attempted to drive a van around the track in under 10 minutes.
Schmitz eventually became a co-host on "Top Gear," and appeared on several shows throughout the Germany and the United Kingdom.