Was Niki Lauda Sport’s Greatest Survivor?

The world of sport – not just motorsport – is mourning the recent passing of Niki Lauda at the age of 70. Lauda was no stranger to the prospect of death having survived a horrific crash in the Nurburgring many years ago, but news of his death is still a reason for great sadness.

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The crash of his Ferrari some 43 years ago left him virtually unrecognizable due to third-degree burns that enveloped his whole face and body. Many others would not have survived but Lauda fought on and survived against all odds.

Unthinkable crash

Despite lapsing into a coma after the accident, which burnt off much of his face and damaged his lungs as he inhaled toxic gases, he missed just two races before returning. Back behind the wheel in such a short space of time, Lauda became famous the world over for a spectacular comeback, the like of which had never been seen. He insisted that overthinking it would actually be the death of him and so returning was the only real option.

In the years following the incredible crash, Niki Lauda became recognizable for the red cap he wore to cover up some of the scarring. The 5-time world champion certainly never needed to ask where is the F1 paddock Club in Monaco, and he had been all too aware of the dangers of the sport he loved, indeed warning about the safety provision on the day of the crash.

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Entwined with Motorsport

Even when he finally did give up racing, Lauda remained very close to the sport and took on various roles. Niki built a charter airline, Lauda Air, though sadly this too met with disaster in 1991 when a plane from Bangkok to Vienna crashed killing all 223 people on the flight. Most recently, he was a non-executive chairman for Mercedes, where he was known for speaking his mind.

For more comment on how Niki Lauda was the greatest survivor in sport, not just motor racing, see the article from The Mirror and visit the F1 Paddock Club Monaco for a taste of the life he lived.

In the end, even Niki Lauda came to realize that despite everything he had been through, he was not indestructible. The world of sport, however, will argue that he is irreplaceable.