Formula 1 racing legend Niki Lauda — who once made a miraculous recovery from a horrific crash that left him badly burned — died Monday at the age of 70, his family said.
“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” the family said in a statement, according to the Austrian Press Agency.
“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain.”
Born in 1949 to an Austrian banking family, Lauda pursued a career in racing against his relatives’ wishes.
He won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.
In 1976, Lauda had a major crash at the German Grand Prix and became trapped inside his burning car, leaving him with severe burns and damage to his lungs.
Despite doubts he would race again — or even survive — a still-bandaged Lauda made an incredible return six weeks later for the Italian Grand Prix. He finished fourth.
He eventually retired from racing in 1985, saying he needed to focus on his airline business Lauda Air.
Lauda twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ from his brother in 1997 and then from his girlfriend in 2005.
The three-time world champion’s death came eight months after he received a lung transplant.
In August 2018 he underwent the procedure for an illness publicly identified only as “serious.”
He is survived by his second wife, Brigit, and their twins, Max and Mia. He also has two adult sons from his first marriage, Lukas and Mathias.
With Post wires
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