Niki Lauda, Formula One Road Warrior Who Pushed Limits, Dies at 70

By Robert D. McFadden
May 21, 2019

Niki Lauda, the Austrian racecar driver who won three world championships in Formula One, the sport’s highest level of international competition, and was regarded as one of the greatest speedway drivers of all time, died on Monday. He was 70.

His family reported the death in a statement to the Austria Press Agency. The cause was not immediately known.

Lauda was injured many times in race crashes and once nearly killed. He had kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005, and in August 2018, while battling severe lung disease, underwent what was described as a successful lung transplant at a hospital in Vienna.

The scion of an industrial family that opposed his daredevil driving career, Lauda (pronounced LAO-da) was a road warrior who dazzled motoring experts and crowds that lined the twisting, turning Grand Prix courses of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas for grueling all-weather races. For a driver, it took guts, focus and precision moves among the shifting packs roaring at high speeds.

“Formula One is simply about controlling these cars and testing your limits,” Lauda told The Telegraph of London in 2015. “This is why people race — to feel the speed, the car and the control. If in my time you pushed too far, you would have killed yourself. You had to balance on that thin line to stay alive.”

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