Niki Lauda Dies: Racing Legend Portrayed In The Film ‘Rush’ Was 70

Niki Lauda

The family of Niki Lauda announced Monday evening that the three-time Formula 1 champion had died.

Lauda received a lung transplant in August of previous year and had since been recovering, but was suffering from a kidney illness in more recent months.

"His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain".

The then world champion steps from his Ferrari 312-T2 in April, 1976. His recovery from the near-fatal accident, and battle with James Hunt for that year's title, was the subject of the Ron Howard film Rush. He later sold the carrier to Austrian Airlines and formed Niki, a company he sold twice, the last time to Irish low-priced specialist Ryanair Holdings Plc after stepping in to rescue the business that had become embroiled in the collapse of Air Berlin.

"It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Niki Lauda", Carey said in a statement on Tuesday.

His Ferrari went up in flames, and it took 55 seconds to pull him out of the vehicle.

"But I did not want to die".

"For three or four days it was touch and go", Lauda recalled later, according to ESPN.

Lauda has struggled with health problems ever since his 1976 crash.

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Hamilton spoke of his sorrow at his friend's death both on Twitter and Instagram.

He won the F1 World title three times in the 1970's and 80's and later became an important figure within the Mercedes Formula 1 team. Miraculously, Lauda finished fourth in his return at Monza. In May 1991, one of his aircraft crashed after takeoff from Bangkok. The Boeing 767 went out of control and broke up in flight, killing all 213 passengers and the 10 crew members on board. But he later returned to racing. It was during this run in 1976 when Lauda survived the horrific crash at the Nurburgring that left him severely burnt. He subsequently had reconstructive surgery done to allow his eyelids to function properly, but had been literally scarred for life and would wear a baseball cap in public for the rest of his life as a result.

Lauda left his first airline in 2000, and in 2003, Lauda Air became part of the Austrian Airlines Group.

He partnered with budget carrier Ryanair on Niki's successor, LaudaMotion.

The son of an industrialist family proved his shrewdness when he started his racing career.

He got money for his first racing auto by lying to his grandmother (Al Jazeera).

The remnants of Niki Lauda's Ferrari after the accident that almost cost him his life.

He also faked his high school diploma in order to get parental approval to begin vehicle racing.

The second title for Ferrari came in 1977, before Lauda moved to Brabham for the 1978 season. He was voted down by his fellow drivers, and on lap two, Lauda's Ferrari was in flames.

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