The 1976 F1 battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt was dramatized in the 2013 film “RUSH”, where Lauda was portrayed by Daniel Bruhl. Lauda himself made a cameo appearence at the end of the film.
Synopsis: Set against the sexy, glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, the film is based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Bruhl). The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die
The film: “Rush”
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde
Via Rotten Tomatoes: “91% of those who have seen the film would recommend it to their friends. (A sleek, slick, well-oiled machine, Rush is a finely crafted sports drama with exhilarating race sequences and strong performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.)”
Comments by BK:” I have seen the film (twice) and its fabulous. It represents Ron Howard at his absolute best. If it weren’t true, no one would believe it. As a matter of fact, at an early test screening of Rush, one participant called Howard and his fellow filmmakers “idiots”, as he thought the entire premise of the film was unbelievable, and he told Howard, as much. This guy had no idea it was a real story.” See BK’s film review below.
Film Review by Bill Knudsen:
What a breath of fresh air… A brilliant film in every respect. I was lucky enough to this movie at a special preview and I can’t tell you how great a film this is… At first you think it’s about racing cars, but it’s not it really does give you an insight into the human condition…
The rivalry between Hunt and Lauder is just played brilliantly… The race sequences are superb, really taking you back to the 70s… The heyday of this awesome sport. It shows the end of an era where the gentlemen drivers begin to give way to professional sportsmen and the end (in my opinion) of the excitement of the sport. It shows what a pale reflection today’s F1 is of this once great sport, and what great characters we have lost…
READ MORE HERE about Griots Garage and the Ferrari 312T Ferrari
READ MORE HERE about the Seattle Auto Show and display of Ferrari 312T Ferrari
Two interesting You Tube videos:
Andreas Nikolaus “Niki” Lauda – Three Time F1 World Champion (1974-
Published on Jul 24, 2011
Niki Lauda Talks RUSH Movie 2013 Niki Lauda Interview
Published on Sep 9, 2013
About Niki Lauda:
Background: Andreas Nikolaus “Niki” Lauda is an Austrian former Formula One racing driver who was the F1 World Champion three times in 1975, 1977 and 1984. More recently an aviation entrepreneur, he has founded and run two airlines (Lauda Air and Niki). He was also the manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years. He is currently working as a pundit for German TV during Grand Prix weekends and acts as non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Lauda is perhaps best known for being involved in crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, during which his Ferrari burst into flames and he came close to death after inhaling hot toxic gases and suffering severe burns. However, he recovered and returned to race again just six weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix. Scars from the injuries he suffered have left him permanently disfigured.
Early years in racing
Niki Lauda was born on 22 February 1949 in Vienna, Austria, to a wealthy family. His paternal grandfather was the Viennese-born businessman Hans Lauda.
Lauda became a racing driver despite his family’s disapproval. After starting out with a Mini, Lauda moved on into Formula Vee, as was normal in Central Europe, but rapidly moved up to drive in private Porsche and Chevron sports cars. His career seemed to be going nowhere in particular until he took out a large bank loan, secured by a life insurance policy, to buy his way into the fledgling March team as a Formula Two (F2) driver in 1971. Because of his family’s disapproval he had an ongoing feud with his family over his racing ambitions and abandoned further contact. He was quickly promoted to the F1 team, but drove for March in F1 and F2 in 1972. Although the F2 cars were good (and Lauda’s driving skills impressed March principal Robin Herd), March’s 1972 F1 season was catastrophic. Lauda, in despair and deep debt, briefly contemplated suicide but finally took out another bank loan to buy his way into the BRM team in 1973. Lauda was instantly quick, but the team was in decline; his big break came when his BRM teammate Clay Regazzoni left to rejoin Ferrari in 1974 and team owner Enzo Ferrari asked him what he thought of Lauda. Regazzoni spoke so favourably of Lauda that Ferrari promptly went and signed him, paying Niki enough to clear his debts.
After an unsuccessful start to the 1970s culminating in a disastrous start to the 1973 season, Ferrari regrouped completely under Luca di Montezemolo and were resurgent in 1974. The team’s faith in the little-known Lauda was quickly rewarded by a second-place finish in his début race for the team, the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix. His first Grand Prix (GP) victory – and the first for Ferrari since 1972 – followed only three races later in Spain. Although Lauda became the season’s pacesetter, achieving six consecutive pole positions, a mixture of inexperience and mechanical unreliability meant Lauda won only one more race that year, the Dutch GP. He finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship and demonstrated immense commitment to testing and improving the car.
The 1975 F1 season started slowly for Lauda, but after nothing better than a fifth-place finish in the first four races he then won four out of the next five races in the new Ferrari 312T. His first World Championship was confirmed with a third place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza; Lauda’s teammate Regazzoni won the race and Ferrari clinched their first constructor’s championship in 11 years; Lauda then picked up a fifth win at the last race of the year, the United States GP at Watkins Glen. He also became the first and only driver to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in under 7 minutes, which was considered a huge feat as the Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring was 2 miles longer than it is today. Never one to be awed by the trappings of success, Lauda famously gave away any trophies he won to his local garage in exchange for his car to be washed and serviced.
Unlike 1975 and despite tensions between Lauda and di Montezemolo’s successor, Daniele Audetto, Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 F1 season, winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two. By the time of his fifth win of the year at the British GP, he had more than double the points of his closest challengers Jody Scheckter and James Hunt, and a second consecutive World Championship appeared a formality. It would be a feat not achieved since Jack Brabham‘s victories in 1959 and 1960. He also looked set to win the most races in a season, a record held by the late Jim Clark since 1963
A week before the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, (even though he was the fastest driver on that circuit at the time) Lauda urged his fellow drivers to boycott the race, largely due to the 23 kilometre circuit’s safety arrangements. Most of the other drivers voted against the boycott and the race went ahead. On 1 August 1976 during the second lap at the very fast left kink before Bergwerk, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, due to a suspected rear suspension failure, hit an embankment and rolled back into the path of Brett Lunger‘s Surtees–Ford car. Lauda’s Ferrari burst into flames, but, unlike Lunger, he was trapped in the wreckage. Drivers Arturo Merzario, Lunger, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before they were able to pull Lauda from his car, he suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood. As Lauda was wearing a modified helmet, the foam had compressed and it slid off his head after the accident, leaving his face exposed to the fire. Although Lauda was conscious and able to stand immediately after the accident, he later lapsed into a coma.
Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly. Since the accident he has always worn a cap to cover the scars on his head. He has arranged for sponsors to use the cap for advertising.
With Lauda out of the contest, Ferrari boycotted the Austrian GP in protest at what they saw as preferential treatment shown towards McLaren driver James Hunt at the Spanish and British GPs. Carlos Reutemann was even taken on as a potential replacement.
Lauda returned to race only six weeks (two races) later, appearing at the Monza press conference with his fresh burns still bandaged. He finished an heroic fourth in the Italian GP, despite being, by his own admission, absolutely petrified. F1 journalist Nigel Roebuck recalls seeing Lauda in the pits, peeling the blood-soaked bandages off his scarred scalp. He also had to wear a specially adapted AGV crash helmet so as to not be in too much discomfort. In Lauda’s absence, Hunt had reduced Lauda’s lead in the World Championship standings. Following wins in the Canadian and United States GPs, Hunt stood only three points behind Lauda before the final race of the season, the Japanese GP.
Lauda qualified third, one place behind Hunt, but on race day there was torrential rain and Lauda retired after two laps, stating that he felt it was unsafe to continue under these conditions, especially since his eyes were watering excessively because of his fire-damaged tear ducts and inability to blink. Hunt led much of the race before a late puncture dropped him down the order. He recovered to 3rd, thus winning the title by a single point.
Lauda’s previously good relationship with Ferrari was severely affected by his decision to withdraw from the race, and he endured a difficult 1977 season, despite easily winning the championship through consistency rather than outright pace. Lauda disliked his new teammate, Carlos Reutemann, who had already served as his replacement driver while he had been out of contest. Lauda was not comfortable with this move and felt he had been let down by Ferrari. “We never could stand each other, and instead of taking pressure off me, they put on even more by bringing Carlos Reutemann into the team.” Having announced his decision to quit Ferrari at season’s end, Lauda left early due to the team’s decision to run the then unknown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Brabham and first retirement 1978-1981
Five years after his first retirement, Lauda won his third title driving a McLaren MP4/2.
Having joined Brabham in 1978 for a $1 million salary, Lauda endured two unsuccessful seasons, notable mainly for his one race in the Brabham BT46B, a radical design known as the Fan Car: it won its first race, but Brabham did not use the car in F1 again, not wanting the car to be banned outright. At the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, Lauda informed Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone that he wished to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to “drive around in circles”. Lauda, who had founded a charter airline, returned to Austria to run the company full-time.
McLaren comeback and second retirement 1982–1985
Needing money to shore up his new business, in 1982 Lauda returned to racing, feeling that he still had a career in Formula One. After a successful test with McLaren, the only problem was in convincing then team sponsor Marlboro that he was still capable of winning. Lauda proved he was still quite capable when, in his third race back, he won the Long Beach Grand Prix. Before the race at the Kyalami race track in South Africa, Lauda was the organiser of the so-called ‘drivers’ strike’; Lauda had seen that the new Super-License required the drivers to commit themselves to their present teams and realised that this could hinder a driver’s negotiating position. The drivers, with the exception of Teo Fabi, barricaded themselves into a banqueting suite at Sunnyside Park Hotel until they had won the day. Lauda won a third world championship in 1984 by half a point over teammate Alain Prost, due to only half points being awarded for the shortened 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. His Austrian Grand Prix victory that year is the most recent and so far only time an Austrian has won his home Grand Prix. Initially, Lauda did not want Prost to become his teammate, as he presented a much faster rival. However, during the two seasons together, they had a good relationship. The whole season continued to be dominated by Lauda and Prost, who won 12 of 16 races. Lauda won five races, while Prost was able to win seven Grands Prix. However, Lauda, who was able to set records for most Pole Position in a season during the 1975 season, rarely matched his teammate in qualifying. His championship win came in Estoril, when he had to start in eleventh place on the grid, while Prost qualified on the front row. However, Lauda was able to come in second and claimed the title.
1985 was a poor season for Lauda, with eleven retirements from the fourteen races he started, he did not start the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing and breaking his wrist during practice, he also later missed the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch; John Watson replaced him for that race. He did manage 4th at the San Marino Grand Prix, 5th at the German Grand Prix, and a single race win at the Dutch Grand Prix. This proved to be his last Grand Prix victory and also the last Formula One Grand Prix held in the Netherlands. He retired for good at the end of that season.
Lauda’s helmet was originally a plain red with his full name written on the sides and the Raiffeisen Bank logo in the chin area. He wore a modified AGV helmet in the weeks following his Nürburgring accident so as the lining would not aggravate his burned scalp too badly. In 1982, upon his return for McLaren, his helmet was still red but featured the white “L” logo of Lauda Air instead of his name on the sides, complete with branding from his personal sponsor Parmalat on the top. For 1983–1985, the red and white were reversed to evoke memories of his earlier design.
Life after F1
Lauda returned to running his airline, Lauda Air, on his second Formula One retirement in 1985. During his time as airline manager, he was appointed consultant at Ferrari as part of an effort by Montezemolo to rejuvenate the team. After selling his Lauda Air shares to majority partner Austrian Airlines in 1999, he managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team from 2001 to 2002. In late 2003, he started a new airline, Niki. Lauda holds a commercial pilot’s license and from time to time acts as a captain on the flights of his airline. Lauda Air ceased operations in July 2013.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993 and since 1996 has provided commentary on Grands Prix for Austrian and German television on RTL. He was, however, rapped for calling Robert Kubica a “polack” on air in May 2010 at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Niki Lauda has written five books: The Art and Science of Grand Prix Driving (titled Formula 1: The Art and Technicalities of Grand Prix Driving in some markets) (1975); My Years With Ferrari (1978); The New Formula One: A Turbo Age (1984); Meine Story (titled To Hell and Back in some markets) (1986); Das dritte Leben (1996). Lauda credits Austrian journalist Herbert Volker with editing the books.
Lauda is sometimes known by the nickname “the rat”, “SuperRat” or “King Rat” because of his prominent bucked teeth. He has been associated with both Parmalat and Viessmann, sponsoring his ever faithful ‘cappy’ from 1976 onwards, used to hide the severe burns he sustained in his 1976 accident. Lauda admitted in a 2009 interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit that an advertiser currently pays €1.2m for the space on his famous red cap.
In 2005 the Austrian post office issued a stamp honouring him. In 2008, American sports television network ESPN ranked him 22nd on their top drivers of all-time.
Lauda has two sons with his first wife, Marlene (whom he divorced in 1991): Mathias, a racing driver himself, and Lukas, his brother Mathias’s manager. He also has an extra-marital son, Christoph. In 2008 he married Birgit, who is 30 years his junior and was formerly a flight attendant for his airline. She had also donated a kidney to Lauda when the kidney he received in a transplant from his brother years earlier failed. In September 2009 Birgit gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
From Wikipedia and other sources.
See info about Lauda’s Ferrari on display HERE
See info about Seattle Auto Show HERE.