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Niki Lauda’s Charred 1976 German Grand Prix Helmet Is Looking For A New Head

AGV lid worn by Lauda when he suffered horrific burns at the Nurburgring is being auctioned by Bonhams


by Chris Chilton

May 3, 2024 at 09:01

 Niki Lauda’s Charred 1976 German Grand Prix Helmet Is Looking For A New Head

  • Helmet worn by Niki Lauda when he crashed at the 1976 German Grand Prix is heading to auction
  • The AGV helmet shows fire damage to the left side, but survived better than Lauda
  • Bonhams is auctioning the helmet in Miami on May 4 and estimates it’ll make $50-60k

Almost half a century after Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 burst into flames, causing him dramatic injuries and changing attitudes to safety within F1 forever, the late Austrian’s crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix remains arguably the most famous motorsport accident of all. And now the fire-chewed helmet Lauda was wearing on that day is heading for auction.

The AGV helmet has plenty of battle scars on its right-hand side, the bright red paint having chipped badly, and the ‘Niki Lauda’ lettering on the lower section partially peeled away. But if that’s all you got to see, it could just be a badly stored version of any old Lauda helmet.

Related: Charles Leclerc Crashes Niki Lauda’s Ferrari F1 Car At Monaco Historic Grand Prix

But then you catch a glimpse of the other side and you’re reminded of the hell Lauda had to endure waiting for emergency services to finally reach him after brave rival drivers had stopped to pull him from the wreck. The visor has partially melted in the extreme heat of the fire, causing it to curl up and hundreds of tiny bubbles to appear in the plastic surface. Reports say that the foam in the helmet had compressed causing it to slide off Lauda’s head, exposing his face to the fire.

The tragic irony is that Lauda, concerned about the lack of safety provisions at the sprawling 14.2-mile (22.8 km) track cut into the woody hillside of the Eifel mountains, had wanted to boycott the race. But the other F1 drivers in the field narrowly voted for the event to go ahead, despite the forecast rainy weather.

Championship leader Lauda spun off early in the race, hit a bank, bounced back onto the track and burst into flames before being hit by Brett Lunger, who was then hit by Harald Ertl. Lauda narrowly escaped death, suffering horrific burns to his face and damage to his lungs. But, incredibly, he missed just two races before climbing back into an F1 car, bringing his Ferrari home in fourth place at the Italian Grand Prix.

 Niki Lauda’s Charred 1976 German Grand Prix Helmet Is Looking For A New Head

Lauda, who passed away in 2019, aged 70, would have won the championship that year, too, if he hadn’t retired after two laps at the rain-soaked season closer in Japan. James Hunt stayed out, but despite the huge advantage gifted by both Lauda’ decision on that day, and Lauda’s misfortune, absences and physical impairments, the Brit only became champ by a solitary point.

If you fancy grabbing a piece of iconic motorsport headgear, Lauda’s lid is being auctioned by Bonhams in Miami on May 4. The flambéed helmet is going under the hammer alongside examples belonging to several other famous drivers and is expected to sell for $50-60,000.

Photos Bonhams

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