VIENNA: Niki Lauda, a motor car racing from Austria, who returned from a fatal accident made him a global symbol of resilience and determination, dead at the age of 70.
Lauda was seriously injured in that accident in the German Grand Prix in 1976 so that a priest gave him the last rituals as he lay in a coma.
His Ferrari had slammed into a barrier and then broke into flames as he turned back on the track, where the car was coming on hitting him again. By the time he was taken from the wreck, he got his face, his scalp and his right ear burned seriously and burnt his lungs.
Only six weeks later, his burns were ripped and crude, he was racing again, trying to keep his Formula One world title. It remains one of the most memorable courage and defiance of the sport.
"This was the most frightening weekend," he told Reuters in 2013, at a late reception about how frightened he was to race so soon after deceiving death. He finished fourth of that day.
But he rarely became immersed in such feelings, even after a racing career where he won three world championship titles, as much as Ayrton Senna Brazil or Briton Jackie Stewart.
"It's finished. I live today and think about tomorrow. Take the experience," he said in the same interview.
Lauda, who would become a racing team operator and an airline entrepreneur later, applied that stylish style to most things. When he had accumulated so many trophies that were "ugly and useless to me mainly", he gave him his local garage in exchange for a lifetime of free car washing https://www.reuters.com/article / us-motor-racing-prix-lauda / niki-lauda-swapped-troffies-for-free-car-washes-idUSKCN0PE0SN20150704.
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Apart from reconstructive eyesight and eyelids, he chose against cosmetic surgery on the burns which he deformed. Instead, it included a baseball cap which became a trademark for it, which charged sponsors to put their logo on it.
"Certainly, people are changing their tits and their ass and whatever. In my case, something could be done but I wouldn't. Because this is a fact of life and that's it," he said.
Lauda also saw the lighter side. Even before his accident his teeth won the nickname "The Rat" to him, and later he would remember that his friend and his opponent, James Hunt, had told him that he looked better at after the crash than from the front – scene in Hollywood movie "Rush" their competition that season.
"Now, if people are trying to excite me with comments about my face, I say: 'I had an accident. But you were born like this," he said. he told the German newspaper Die Welt.
He also overcome internal injuries. After two kidney transplants in 1997 and 2009, he had a lung transplant in 2018, nearly 42 years after the accident in the Nuerburgring where he inhaled hot toxic gases.
Doggedness was a prominent feature of his life.
Born to the wealthy Vienna family, he challenged his wishes to pursue a racing career. Lauda's grandfather, who was on an oversight board of an Austrian bank, even prevented the sponsorship of his own company with his grandson. The family rebellion took loans to fund its early years.
In 1979, after two years with Brabham-Alfa Romeo's less competitive team where he failed to win the world title, he decided he was fed up with driving and retired from the sport.
He hit on his own again that year, setting up his first airline, Lauda Air, that he would sell to Australian Airlines three decades later, after making a habit of amazing travelers by flying their own plane .
That career came with his own great revolution in 1991 when he broke the Lauda Airplane in Thailand, killing 223 people. Ultimately, the Boeing plane was rather than his plane at fault.
"People always think that the worst time in my life has been after the German Grand Prix crash … But he said," told the Observer newspaper in 2006. "When you run an airline and more than 200 people want to go from A to B and don't arrive – that's a different responsibility. "
His love for flight continued. Last year he bought another airline that set up Niki back to him, after his new parent Air Berlin became bankrupt. He re-honored Laudamotion and soon sold a part to Ryanair, recovering a lot of his investment quickly.
As with planes, he could not turn his back on racing for a long time. Only two years after he retired from the first sport, the McLaren team won him back, winning his third world championship in 1984. Only five drivers have won more titles.
His count was almost higher. He lost the world title to Hunt during his accident year after one point after deciding that the last race of the season that had been rained was too dangerous. He retired after one lap.
"The rain didn't stop for two hours and became the Japanese idiot race director and said that the current race … this was for me the most stupid decision ever. I made one lap so Ferrari got the money and away I went, "he said.
Still, he said he had no remorse.
"For me it was logical. I think I would do the same again today."
(Additional report by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Darren Schuettler)