This month marks 36 years since the legendary 1976 German Grand Prix that nearly took the life of Formula 1 great Niki Lauda. And filmmaker Ron Howard is in post production on Rush, a feature film that recreates that fateful day and chronicles the storied rivalry between Lauda and fellow racer James Hunt.
Set against the sexy, speed-crazed golden age of Formula 1 in the 1970s, the $65 million biopic details the “great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt, and his methodical, brilliant opponent Niki Lauda,” reads IMDB.com. “The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die.”
Chris Hemsworth, who most recently played Thor in Thor and The Avengers and the huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman, plays Hunt, whose action-packed on-track exploits earned him the nickname “Hunt the Shunt” and who won the 1976 German Grand Prix. He was the epitome of the unruly playboy racer who claimed to have slept with more than 5,000 women, often did drugs moments before a race and was known to dine with his dog at expensive restaurants.
Barcelona-born Daniel Brühl plays Lauda. Born to a wealthy Vienna, Austria family who disapproved of his racing ambitions, Lauda eventually would become a three-time F1 World Champion and a Ferrari team member. But he’s best known for that devastating 1976 crash at Germany’s Nürburgring motorsports complex. A week before the Grand Prix, Lauda tried to boycott the race, citing the 23 kilometer circuit’s safety risks, but was outvoted by other drivers. On the second lap, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, hit an embankment, rolled back into the path of another car and burst into flames. Before being pulled from the car, Lauda suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood and soon lapsed into a coma. He sustained extensive scarring, lost most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and eyelids.
In the months afterward, Lauda and Hunt, who had been close friends early in their careers, became notorious rivals as Lauda mounted a miraculous comeback and Hunt’s career began to decline. Check out the sneak peek of Rush below and post your thoughts about the movie on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook fan page.