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True Moments of Passion feat. Niki Lauda

A legend, a star, and a passionate racing driver, Niki, would have his moments of passion take over him. And, his most profound moment, isn’t the one we all are so familiar with, as history would have us believe.

Niki Lauda, the one and only, the legend, and the charisma which showed the motoring world what being passionate meant in reality.

There are times when your passion takes over your instincts and desires. These are times when your existence itself demands your pursuit of passion. What follows is an unflinching, unwavering, and unobstructed march towards glory.

Seams dreamlike, but it does happen in reality. Of course, these are not moments anyone should be waiting for to happen. Rather, these are moments that happen by themselves to the most passionate of us. And we all know a personality who embodied his passion like none other. And walked with such grace and thought, that the generation he was in stood in complete awe.

We’re talking about none other than Niki Lauda. His passion for racing was unmistaken. But, even the greats have moments in their life which define them, and more often than not, passion plays a key role in the construct of those moments.

We want to talk about that one moment of passion that defined Niki Lauda as one of the greatest of all time.

There are very few in the racing fraternity much like Niki Lauda. Meticulous, perfectionist, precise, structured, brave, passionate, and a legend are some of the words people use to define him. And, talking to anyone about him you’d agree that these words don’t begin to do justice to what he was.

His thirst for racing was the quintessential definition of someone who is passionate, and more importantly obsessed by it, in a good way. But, Niki wouldn’t ever explicitly state it to being his passion until later in his life in an interview. And even then, he wouldn’t call it passion and would call it something he cannot define.

It was evident from the get-go that Niki’s passion and his will to win couldn’t be matched by anyone on the grid in his time, except for maybe James Hunt as portrayed in the movie Rush. Yet, his greatest moment of personal realization of his passion came much later when he had first retired from the sport.

His Most famous Moment of Passion

History remembers his moment of passion as the time he got back to racing after a death-defying accident in the year 1976. With life-threatening burns to his face and lungs, Niki got back to racing again in six weeks. The prospect of him racing again was kept on hold let alone getting back in this short a time.

The incident happened in the German GP (Grand Prix) on the infamous Nurburgring racing circuit, nicknamed the green hell. Niki started the race 2nd on the grid with only James Hunt, his long-time rival ahead of him at the pole position. Niki was leading the F1 championship as one of the drivers with Ferrari at the time. He was defending his championship title he won the previous year and was a favorite to win the title again. James Hunt was second in the running.

The race started as usual with drivers being cautious of the track as it had a reputation of being dangerous. But, in the 2nd lap itself, the track living up to its reputation, saw Niki losing control of his Ferrari and crashing into the fences. Engulfed in flames, his car tracks back into the path of other drivers and gets hit a couple of times. His injuries which were first thought to be normal turned out to be pretty serious with him fighting for his life with extensive lung damage due to fire.

Long-story-short, Niki returned to racing only six weeks after the accident in the Italian GP while only missing out on 4 races. He would then go on to lose the championship to James Hunt in a controversial season by just one point. The passion and the will he showed for racing that season made him the legend that he is today.

But, that might not be the biggest moment of passion arguably for him. You see Niki was a different breed of drivers. He was methodical, almost scientific, and ruthless in his work ethic. In his own words, he would never describe this experience as his true moment of passion rather just a moment of willpower and his responsibility towards the team.

The magic of Niki wasn’t destined to be over with his first retirement from F1 racing.

His True Moment of Passion

Years later when he first retired from racing and was working for his airline company. Niki had retired in a yet again controversial move in 1979 to pursue his will to start an airline company. His argument then was that he had it enough with racing and wanted to do something else. The reporters and the media then phrased the move as a typical Niki Lauda move with an unmistakable ferocity in doing what he wanted to do.

But, this move was destined to change when he returned to racing again a couple of years later with McLaren. The then Team Principal of McLaren, Ron Dennis, asked Niki one day, while he was retired, if he wanted to make a comeback to racing. To which, Niki, in the typical shrug of his shoulders, would say outright no. He argued that he wasn’t interested anymore.

Ron wasn’t going to flinch, and he invited Niki for some races to commentate on. By then, Niki had completely stopped watching F1 altogether and it would be a long time since he watched a live race. At the start of one of those races, watching an accident take place at the start which is typical for an F1 race, Niki felt his passion overpower him.

In his own words, Niki years later would say, “My whole, you know what I mean, the brain changed. I was ready again, to take chances, and to take risks. And, I was amazed by this new development.”

This was his moment of passion. And, Ron, not knowing the new development Niki was experiencing, invites him to try an F1 car out of the blue. Something which almost never happens in F1 to date. Niki tries the car and he immediately wants to race again.

“My whole career came to an end because I was bored, there was no challenge, it was only painful, and the motivation was gone. Very simple. And, uh…, then I retired. And then for 2 years, I wasn’t interested at all. Didn’t even watch the races. And then suddenly, the… the… the-the what you have in your body. I don’t know know how or what you want to call it, it came back. And, when it came back, off I went again.” — Niki Lauda

It was his passion that brought him back again to racing. And, to make history, he won another world championship title with McLaren in the year 1984. The first and the only F1 driver to have won a driver’s championship with two different constructors (F1 manufacturers) to date. No one else has yet been able to do that.

Your Passion Has The Ability To Push You For Greatness

Passion has its ways and its means to create those moments where nothing other than pursuing your passion makes sense. And for Niki, it was his return to racing, both from the accident and from his retirement. Niki was exceptional, with his work ethic and his will he was unmatched by anyone in the history of the sport.

His legacy lives on with teams like Mercedes-AMG Petronas even today, in their pursuit of perfection and more importantly passion.

More than anything, passion should be a means for clarity and drive towards the thing you want the most. Finding your passion shouldn’t be the moto as many would have you believe. The right way to go is to let your passion find you. Stay patient and willing to accept it when it arrives. And, when it does arrive, let it sweep you to the greatness it so willingly presents.

Yes, we strongly believe passion has that power. Niki is an evergreen proof of it. And the communities we are creating will prove it nonetheless.

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