In a sport where at least one competitor a year was expected to die, racing great Niki Lauda stood out as one of the greatest.
Three time World Drivers’ Champion, twice with Ferrari and once with McLaren, perhaps Lauda’s greatest achievement is racing again after a fiery crash on Germany’s Nurburging (Nurburg Ring) in 1976. Despite suffering third degree burns to his face and server damage to his lungs from inhaling toxic fumes, Lauda returned six weeks later to try to hang on to his overall points lead to retain his title as Drivers’ Champion.
British driver James Hunt eventually overtook Lauda in Japan after the Austrian withdrew due to the weather, burned tear ducts and his inability to blink. The racing rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda was well portrayed in the 2013 Ron Howard film, “Rush.”