Niki Lauda was a racing driver, three times Formula 1 champion (75, 77 and 84, the last by half a point over his teammate), legendary shit stirrer, airplane pilot, airline owner (couple of times), overall great guy, and survivor of one of the most terrible non-fatal accidents in Formula 1 history.
Nicknamed The Rat, because of his teeth, Lauda was a fierce fighter on and off the track and made his mark in Formula 1 by being fast, ruthless, and technically flawless in his driving.
After his infamous crash at the Nürburgring (Warning: Graphic) in August 1st, 1976, he was given the last rites at the hospital and, as the story goes, told the priest to F off, because he wasn't dead. He was severely burned, his lungs seared from the toxic fumes from his car. If it were not for the corageous actions of Guy Edwards, Harald Ertl, Brett Lunger, and Arturo Merzario, who all stopped their cars and dove into the flames to rescue their fellow driver, it is likely that Lauda would not have survived. And he would not only survive his horrific injuries, but get back in the car on September 12th, to the astonishment of all, fighting Hunt for the title until the last race, where Hunt managed to beat him by a single point.
He then run his own airline twice (Lauda Air), serving as pilot for several flights, managed several Formula 1 teams (including helping manage Ferrari), and wrote a few books
Lately he was advisor to the all conquering Mercedes Formula 1 team (who have won both the Driver's and the Constructor's championships every year since 2014) and a beloved figure in the Formula 1 world.
Niki was portrayed, along with James Hunt, in the 2013 movie Rush, played by Daniel Brühl (Chris Hemsworth played Hunt, his nemesis in the 1976 Formula 1 season). He was also the theme of "Niki Lauda", by Los Petersellers, a fantastically crazy song.
Today, in Maranello Ferrari museum, lights only on Niki Lauda’s carRIP Niki Lauda, a true racing legend has passed.
Niki Lauda has passed away, aged 70.His impact on the world of motorsport has been immeasurable. On the one hand there are his three Formula 1 world championships, a feat matched by Ayrton Senna and bettered only by five other drivers.But on the other, there’s the story of adversity behind them...www.topgear.com