Inside ‘curse of Top Gear’ from Sabine Schmidt’s cancer death to Richard Hammond’s horror crash as Ken Block dies at 55 | The Sun

Inside ‘curse of Top Gear’ from Sabine Schmidt’s cancer death to Richard Hammond’s horror crash as Ken Block dies at 55 | The Sun

RALLY hero Ken Block's tragic death has been a hammer a blow to Top Gear fans after a string of tragedies and accidents impacting those linked to the show.

Block died aged 55 in a snowmobile crash after finding a beloved fan base in the UK thanks to his appearances on the hit motoring show.

Top Gear hosts James May and Matt LeBlanc led tributes to Block after the accident near his ranch in Woodland, Utah.

He is believed to have been thrown from the snow mobile which fell down on top of him a he performed a stunt unrelated to Top Gear.

The American driver was a rallying legend, a daredevil, a beloved television personality, and a social media sensation.

Many of his fans in the UK were first introduced to him thanks to his high octane antics with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May


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Block took May on a nailbiting rally ride around an airport, test drove a three wheel Reliant Robin for Clarkson, and appeared alongside the original trio on a live tour.

He also appears on the reboot in which he drove new presenter Matt LeBlanc around London in his Hoonicorn stunt car – including near the Cenotaph.

His untimely death is not the only tragedy to befall those linked to the show however, with there being another tragic death and a string of horrifying crashes.

Dubbed by some as the "Top Gear Curse", here are some of the tragedies and horror incidents that have befallen the show and its presenters.

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Tragic Death

Sabine Schmitz was known as the "Queen of the Nürburgring"Credit: Alamy
She became a fan favourite after he appearances on Top Gear

Sabine Schmitz won a legion of fans when she first appeared on Top Gear back in 2004.

She was an ace German racing driver who had a mastery of the infamous Nurburgring.

Known as "The Queen of the Nurburgring", she coached Clarkson during his efforts to complete the course in under 10 minutes while driving a Jaguar.

And then she mercilessly mocked him, quipping she could match his 9 minutes and 59 seconds time in a van.

Sabine nearly did as well – losing out by only 9 seconds.

Her infectious personality and incredible skill endeared her to the audience – ending up being one of the presenters selected for the show's reboot in 2016.

However, tragedy struck as Sabine was diagnosed with cancer in late 2017.

She underwent treatment as she continued to make appearances on Top Gear, but sadly died on March 16, 2021.

The first corner of the Nordschleife loop has been renamed the "Sabine-Schmitz-Kurve".

Hammond's crash

Top Gear was almost hit by tragedy in 2006 when Hammond was carrying out a daring test run of a jet-powered dragster called "Vampire".

The sleek vehicle was capable of 370mph.

And it set the British land speed record back in 2000 with a speed of more than 300mph.

Hammond got behind the wheel during a carefully planned stunt at RAF Elvington near York.

But during one of his runs, tragedy struck and the front tyre failed while "Hamster" was travelling at 319mph.

The dragster veered off the track, embedded in the grass and rolled over – smashing Richard's helmeted head into the ground.

He suffered a brain injury and was taken to hospital by air ambulance.

The TV star spent five weeks recovering from his injuries, two of which he was in a medically induced coma.

Hammond went on to admit he lost a year of his memory thanks to the crash – and later revealed he still suffers memory loss and depression due to his injuries.

May left bloody

May was another Top Gear host to suffer injuries while the trio were filming the show's Christmas Special.

During their adventure to the Middle East, "Captain Slow" was helping Clarkson tow his car out of a ditch in Syria.

But when the tow rope when taunt, he was flung with force onto the ground – slamming his head onto a rock.

He was left trembling and saying he felt sick in the worrying incident before being rushed to hospital.

"There was a lot of blood. It was all very worrying," said May in 2010.

May went on: "I stood in the line of where the tow rope went taut. I told the driver to move off and became part of a giant catapult."

He suffered a severe concussion – but eventually returned to join the trio on the journey.

Clarkson described the incident as "very worrying" as May required stitches and was put on a drip.

May however was keen to downplay his fall.

I don't want to pretend I had an accident as bad as Hammond," he said.

"He bashed his head on the whole of Yorkshire, I just hit mine on a stone."

Freddie's horror crashes

Top Gear reboot presenter Freddie Flintoff was airlifted to hospital earlier this year after a terrifying crash while filming the show from the BBC.

The former England cricketer, 45, was filming a review for the show when he crashed at the Dunsfold Park Aerodrome.

He was injured as cameras were rolling to capture his opinion of the car for the show's review segment.

Thankfully, his injuries were "not life-threatening" despite his hospital dash.

But his son Corey said he was "lucky to be alive".

The presenter's accident came after he also suffered a "near death" crash in 2019.

He had a narrow escape as after a horror 124mph crash in 2019.

Freddie was heard fearfully yelling, "I can't stop," as he hurtled head-first down a runway just inches off the ground in a three-wheeled cycle car.

He had been racing his co-hosts when he realised he was running out of road and about to overshoot the finish line – seeing him spin off in a cloud of dust.

Sources claimed the trio were originally meant to compete along a mile track but bosses extended it to 1.4miles in a bid to get higher speeds.

Freddie miraculously walked away from the "near-death" crash unscathed, insisting he was "absolutely fine."

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He said at the time: "I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but, on this occasion, I went a few lengths too far.

"It will look more ridiculous than dangerous when you see it on TV."

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