The Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event is paying tribute to a late racing legend in a somewhat unusual way — you're challenged to drive around the Nürburgring in a van in homage to a legendary moment from Top Gear.
Forza Motorsport 7 is the newest game in the track-focused racing series. While Forza Horizon is about open worlds and occasionally silly challenges, the Forza Motorsport series is largely focused on more serious track racing. That's one of the many things that makes this new Rivals event special: it's just so wonderfully silly.
What is the Forza Motorspot 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals Event?
The Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event was announced today via a tweet on the game's official account
"Join us in paying tribute to the Queen of the Nürburgring in a new Rivals event, available now in-game," read the tweet on the game's official account. "Recreate Sabine Schmitz's iconic run around the Nordschleife in the Ford Transit SuperSportVan."
This new Rivals event might seem like it's coming out of left field, but fans of Top Gear know exactly what it's all about. Explaining it to a layperson, however, will require a bit of history.
Let's start with the Nürburgring. This is a racing track in Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, but there's a little more to it — it also has a much longer Nordschleife (North Loop) track that is 12.9 miles (20.8 km) in distance. Aside from being used for racing events, the Nordschleife is open to the public and a 10-minute lap time is held up as a standard of being a halfway decent racer. (To date, the best recorded lap time on the track is 6:43:616, achieved by Maro Engel with a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series.)
One of the many oddities of the Nürburgring is the "Ring Taxi" service run by BMW. This allows you to hire a professional driver for €225 to take you (and your friends, if you wish) around the track at high speeds. It may very well be the fastest taxi service in the world, although it also is probably a pretty poor taxi service considering that it takes you right back to where you started the ride.
Sabine Schmitz was one of these Ring Taxi drivers for a time (as you can see in the above video), although that's not where her racing career began — she had a fair amount of experience driving around the Nürburgring for fun. She later competed in the 24 Hours Nürburgring event and won it in 1996 and 1997.
Schmitz quickly became a popular RIng Taxi driver and people noticed, eventually leading to work as a guest commentator for motorsports. That, in turn, got her a spot on the motorsports show D Motor and appearances on Fifth Gear.
"I tell you something — I do that lap time in a van." – Sabine Schmitz, Racing Legend
Her television popularity soon expanded to an international level with guest appearances on the U.K. motorsports show Top Gear. She'd occasionally feature in segments, but one of her most iconic moments is the genesis of the Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event.
Jeremy Clarkson — one of the three hosts of Top Gear, alongside James May and Richard Hammond — drove a diesel Jaguar in less than 10 minutes with a time of 9:59:59.
"9:59 is under ten minutes," Clarkson told Schmitz in 2008.
"I tell you something — I do that lap time in a van," Schmitz retorted.
And that's exactly what she attempted to do one year later. Sabine Schmitz took a diesel-powered Ford Transit van around the track with Richard Hammond as one of the show's segments. After her first attempt failed, she stripped away as much unnecessary weight as she could. Unfortunately, the best she could manage was 10:08:49, which is still a pretty damn good lap time for a van.
Sabine Schmitz continued to enjoy racing for years afterward. Unfortunately, she announced in July 2020 that she was fighting an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Sabine Schmitz passed away from the disease less than one year later at the age of 51.
Her delightful personality and skill on the track endeared Sabine Schmitz to fans and the Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event pays tribute to this racing legend by letting you try to recreate her feat, albeit with a somewhat beefier vehicle. You're not going to be driving some off-the-lot diesel van; rather, you'll be behind the wheel of a Ford Transit SuperSportVan, a souped-up vehicle with 198 bhp under the hood and 346 lb-ft of torque.
You can play the Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event right now. It's a fitting tribute for a racing legend — see if you can beat Sabine's van lap time of 10:08:49!
What do you think of the Forza Motorsport 7 Sabine Schmitz Rivals event? How fast do you think you could go around the real Nürburgring in a van? Let us know in the comments below!