THROWBACK THURSDAY: THE STORY OF THE UNCROWNED CHAMPION
Jochen Rindt the king who was never crowned...
World Champion. Something every Formula 1 driver strives for. It's an accomplishment, a life changing event. Who are the people that have championships? Well you can say Jim Clark for instance, or Juan Manuel Fangio or Lewis Hamilton, but everyone knows them. How about the people who changed the racing game for all? The people who came, and conquered, and no one even knew about. Every championship is well deserved. Deserve, that word stands out, remember it.
To most, the name Jochen Rindt is unheard of, unlike the likes of Niki Lauda, Jim Clark or Sir Jackie Stewart. But trust me, they are many legends who changed this sport, and you never even knew about it. To all the legends and to all the die hard fans, there was a champion right in front of their eyes, and they knew it, and you didn't even realize.
Someone so special, so determined, so motivated, that just flashed before our eyes. Jochen Rindt was that person. A talented, unexpected and thrilling driver to watch, with a passion for racing and a hilarious attitude as well. And 50 years ago at Monza, Formula 1 lost a legend that day. What was taken away from us, one of the best racing careers ever. But Jochans legecy lives on, with the rest of the hall of fame icons.
Inspired from his childhood hero Wolfgang Von Trips, racing was Jochens dream. With a huge motivation to succeed, not just to win, but to do what he loved the most. To race, and when he saw his hero Wolfgang at the Nürburgring in 1961, he knew his life would never be the same. As he finally found his passion in racing at the age of 19 years old.
Something that he just knew how and loved to do, became something that he would do professionally. Driving touring cars, to racing in the Le Mans with succeeding in F2 and F1 as well. But was he good? His certain way of driving, his passion, his style made him known all over the world. Over the months and years Jochens reputation starting becoming a household name. From his ambitious drive and daring outlook, Jochen become one of the best from his generation.
He was known for winning, and that's when his life turned around. He bought a Brahman F2 car and raced in F2, until one day, only on his second F2 race, he beat the legend, Graham Hill. That's when the whole world knew, that's when Formula 1 knew, that is when every single legend knew, that this man was special. 'This man is going to make history' they said. And Jochen didn't stop, he wanted to strive higher. He succeed in F2, he succeed in everything, what more could he else want. Formula 1, that's what he wanted. Rindt had his eyes on Formula 1.
Austria 1964, is where he entered his first F1 Grand Prix, in front of his home crowd. The Austrian had his hopes up high, and he never reached them. that race led into a retirement from Jochen. But that was not the end of the story, actually it was just beginning of an amazing chapter.
Many stories and triumphs were waiting for him, as he drove the NART Ferrari 250LM in the 24 hours Du Le Mans, and won. Still showing everyone how talented and amazing he is. With such a variety amongst many sports, expressing his skills in every motorsport. After showing what he has got, he signed an F1 contract with Cooper, finally achieving what he has been waiting for, but not all of his dreams were achieved yet.
Flying through the tracks, trying his absolute best, even though sometimes his absolute best was not the best, he showed the others why he deserved to be here. Every single race portraying his passion, talent, skill, and his audacious drive. With no restraints holding him from what he loves doing the most.
And his skills started to pay off, with scoring 2 second place podiums and one third place in 1966. All together having 3 podiums in that season, with one second place in the US, the other in Belgium and a third place in Germany. Finally, wowing people, with every gear change he made. As Rindt proved himself to be a legend on the rise. As his talents overflowed in F2 in 1969, it convinced and proved the Lotus boss to sign him to Lotus F1, giving him the big break Jochen deserved.
Jochen finally getting what he has always wanted, pairing him with one of the best cars, the Lotus 49B. It was perfect, it seemed perfect. Everything was in align, nothing can get pass Jochen's way. Now with the mechanisms, tools and machinery that he needed, he was able to finally prove what he has got. Outpacing almost everyone, while gaining poles and wins on the way.
Crashes, they occurred, and they questioned Jochen, he questioned himself. But he never gave up, thankfully walking away with a broke nose and cheekbone in the Spanish Grand Prix, but he kept fighting. He pushed himself and his car to the limit, and showed his ambitious self that he was bound and determined to win, to race, and to show that he deserved to be here.
And the finally awaited and well deserved victory came, as he stepped on the winners podium in the USA. He was still racing strong before that, taking podiums in Canada, Italy and then taking the fascinating victory in the US. Not giving up- he kept fighting, as next season he came back stronger than ever, wining 5 of the first races, powering through everyone, he was unstoppable.
As the iconic 1970 Monaco Grand Prix came along, it showed how unstoppable Jochen was, with an amazing win and fight from Rindt, demostrating his gift. With outstanding highs in that season, Jochen was living his dream. Legend, he was a legend in the making, everyone knew he was just going to become a living legend, he already was. Sadly highs come with lows as well.
Disaster struck, as the triumphs ended and the agony started. As the "Killer years" of Formula 1 started, and as many of the drivers and friends of Jochen including Bruce mclaren, were killed in fatal crashes. Which had Jochen wondering, is this all worth it? Is it worth it to sacrifice my life, and my family life, for all of this? As he was married, with also a young daughter waiting at home. The Austrian started questioning himself, but nothing stopped him, and he would come back and fight, even though there was pain and sadness in his heart.
On the verge of retirement, sadly disaster struck as he never got the chance to walk away. As Jochens Lotus swerved off the track and hit the guardrail at parabolica as it let to fatal injuries', at practice in Monza, during the Italian Grand Prix.
Jochen died doing what he loved, and he worked hard to fulfil his dream, and he did. With no one that season ever able to pass Jochen Ridnts points, which meant Jochen was crowned as formula 1's first and hopefully only, Posthumous World Champion. Having his dream come true.
I told you to remember that word before, deserve. It was well deserved.... rest in peace legend.