There have been lots of movies made about auto racing from Days of Thunder to Grand Prix, Le Mans, and even the animated Cars, etc. But none come close to Ron Howard’s new racing epic, Rush, when it comes to showing that real life is better than fiction.
Rush deals with the fierce rivalry between Formula One rivals English driver James “Hunt the Shunt” Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) who drove for McLaren and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), Ferrari’s Austrian champ, culminating in a “200 mph duel down to the final race of the season with Lauda’s horrifying crash at theGerman Nurburgring August 1, 1976.
Lauda had encouraged his fellow drivers to boycott the race only a weeks before due to the course’s safety features, although most (incuding Lauda) voted against the move. It was then during the second lap that Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, due to a suspected rear suspension failure, hit an embankment and rolled back into the path of Brett Lunger's Surtees-Ford car, bursting into flames. Unfortunately, while Lunger was able to escape, Hunt was trapped and suffered severe burns to his head and face, as well as having inhaled toxic gas fumes that damaged both his lungs and blood before being rescued.
Lauda was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993. He has provided commentary on Grands Prix for Austrian and German television on RTL, since 1996, and has written five books: The Art and Science of Grand Prix Driving (titled Formula 1: The Art and Technicalities of Grand Prix Driving in some markets) (1975); My Years With Ferrari (1978); The New Formula One: A Turbo Age (1984); Meine Story (titled To Hell and Back in some markets) (1986); Das dritte Leben (1996). Lauda credits Austrian journalist Herbert Volker with editing the books.
James Hunt won the Formula One World Championship in 1976 (his best year ever). Yet, his exploits off the track often earned him more notoriety than his driving did, including indulging in drugs and having sex often minutes before a race. In fact, it is said he slept with more than 5,000 women during his relatively short lifetime. After retiring from driving, he became a media commentator and businessman. Hunt died at the age of 45 after suffering a heart-attack on June 15, 1993.
“Rush” opens in new York and Los Angeles this Friday September 20th, and in other markets on Spetember 27th. The movie has been rated R, for salacious dialogue, nudity and its gory crash scene.