Never Give Up

Never Give Up

Most American’s do not follow Formula 1, (Usually referred to as F1) racing. It has been tough to establish a North American presence though it is an evolving process of educations and racing. In 2013, F1 will run in every continent except Africa. The North American Grand Prix will be in Austin TX on November 17. Here is a good site to look at the 2013 race sites:

I mention F1 because currently there is a movie playing titled “Rush” which was Directed and partially Produced by Ron Howard. I have not seen the movie, though I am absolutely fascinated by it. The movie which is based on the true story of the relationship between 1976 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. During the season James Hunt was one of the favorite to win the series championship, while Niki Lauda was the series defending champion. Hunt was known for his ultra-aggressive driving style. He had a great sponsor McLaren and he was an unbelievably large personality. He was overflowing with confidence even at the start of the season.

Lauda drove for Ferrari and he was considered a good bet to contend for the series championship in 1976. His driving style was well suited to F1 and as a result he was a man to beat. Though the first 10 races of the 1976 season Lauda was dominate. He finished no less than 3rd in every race but one. During that same period of time Hunt did not finish or was disqualified from 5 of those same 10 races. Heading into the German Grand Prix Lauda was well ahead and he was cruising to a second straight championship.

The German Grand Prix was different. Almost from the very beginning the German race was a mess. The order of qualifications was disputed, rules for the pit lane were disputed and to top it off it began to rain on race day. For those who do not follow F1, unlike other race series’ that we tend to follow in the United States, F1 cars race if it rains or not. Before the race started it was raining on part the course and the sun was shining on the other part. The race organizers and the other drivers decided to go ahead with the race despite the obvious dilemma the track conditions presented. Because cars run in rain or shine, they have two sets of tires, and the teams were completely lost about how to outfit the cars. If they choose rain tires they would be able to race in the rain portion, but be much slower in the sunny section of the track. If they choose slick tires (the traditional racing tire) the cars would be fast, but difficult to drive in the rainy portions. Lauda asked the drivers and sponsors to delay the start of the race until the track conditions became better understood. Lauda was voted down and the race went on as scheduled.

The German track was an amazing 14 miles long and was constructed in a mountainous area and it was by far the longest closed course racing track in F1 and possibly the world. On the second lap Lauda had a horrific crash. It was later blamed on suspension failure, but never the less it left the car burning with a near full load of fuel and Lada trapped inside. One driver avoided the crash but a second plowed into the burning wreck. Eventually three drivers Surtees, Merzario, and Edwards helped remove the badly burned Lada from the burning wreck. Lada was burned around his upper body including his lungs and it took almost six minutes for the safety crew to arrive at the scene of the accident. Later Lada was airlifted to the nearest hospital and his treatment commenced. You can view the film of the actual accident with some commentary at this location:

Interestingly enough the movie is only about part of that story. The second part is focused on what happened after the crash and the relationship that developed between Hunt and Lada. In this part of the story Lada was driven by the singular purpose of getting back in the car as soon as possible. His rehab from 2nd and 3rd degree burns was spurred by the knowledge that he could drive again. More than that he was driven by the desire keep Hunt from winning the championship. It became an obsession. Lada lost most of ear in the accident, his body was badly burned and it was thought he would not live, alone ever race again.

With the singular drive to beat Hunt, Lada became obsessed with recovery. He did all he could in Physical Therapy, he sometimes took extra medications; he sought out the best specialists in the world to help him. He was a man on a mission and he achieved his goal of reentry into racing a mere 45 days after the season ending and perhaps life ending accident. His goal was to beat Hunt and he almost did. Lada returned to racing in 6 weeks’ time. It was mind blowing achievement. In the last four races of the series he came in 4th. 8th, 3rd and he did not finish in Japan. The point’s race for the championship ended with Hunt having 69 points, while Lada had 68.

Here are pictures of Lada after the infamous crash and rehabilitation:

So why post any of this on a diabetic web site? First I do hope people will go see the movie. It looks to be a wonderful drama with action and human interest elements. But more than that, I hope people will gain some hope from the pure strength of watching Lada recover and go back to racing. After all when most of us are driven by a goal we have a remarkable ability to recover from setbacks. However we have to own that goal. We have to decide both long term and short that we have a reason to pull through our difficulties. It is not mind over matter; it is mind over mind that counts. What is not often thought of is that in 1977 Lada won the championship going away. His closest competitor was a full 17 points behind and Hunt finished a disappointing 5th a full 32 points behind Lada. Lada kept racing and he retired after the 1977 season. But in 1982 Lada changed his mind and resumed racing for team McLaren. In 1984 he won his 3rd world championship by a mere ½ point over his teammate Alain Prost. I think the lesson is to never give up, never ever give up. Niki Lada never gave up and it caused an enduring story that will be read for generations to come.

In addition, if you get the notion, we do have a film group on TUDiabetes called ‘Dinner and a Movie’. I would be very happy if any readers would like to join our little group. Members are welcome to be passive that is just read the reviews or write reviews of movies they see. The only thing this little likes better than movies is new members. Here is the link to look or better yet join our little corner of the internet.