Above: Niki Lauda during practice for the German grand Prix in 1976. race day would be life changing.
Taking a quick break from Indianapolis 500 news this morning to write a brief tribute to Niki Lauda. Lauda died this mornig of kidney failure. He had been undergoing treatment for lung issues.
The three time world champion was 70 years old. he won the world championship in 1975, 1977, and 1984. Lauda just missed the title in 1976 because he missed just two races after a horrific accident in the German Grand Prix. He was badly burned. Some thought he would never race again.
That Lauda even thought of getting back in a race car is just amazing, but we know how drivers are wired. Not like you or me. Even more incredible is that he lost the championship to James Hunt in the final race of the season.
The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda and their fight for the world championship in 1976 is recounted in the movie Rush. I may just have to watch it tonight.
Parallels could be drawn between Lauda and Robert Wickens, I suppose. Wickens injuries are much more severe and it will take longer for him to return to racing. Medicine in 1976 was light years inferior to what is available today, which makes Lauda’s comeback even more incredible.
I was a big Formula 1 fan in Lauda’s era, and 1976 was a fascinating year.
Today is a good day to remember all our racing heroes who have moved on from this life, as they welcome a true racing giant.