Red Bulletin

The First Formula One Pop Star


When he died at the age of 28, Rindt had only just pushed open the door to new dimensions. He brought a new form of glamour, esprit and lightness into Grand Prix motor racing, unknown ’til then.

As a youth in Styria, Jochen Rindt was held in the same social esteem as his similarly aged pal Helmut Marko, today Red Bull’s motorsport consultant.

Their Graz secondary school approached the two young gentlemen with a tempting offer. Making a mockery of their educational prowess, the principal would give them a positive leaving certificate if they would just clear out, schnell, and rock up at some other school – preferably in a remote place, as far away as possible, where their arrival would surely be awaited with great anticipation.

The ‘Boarding School of Last Hopes’, 100 miles away in Bad Aussee, sounded ideal. There, Jochen Rindt’s bundle of police moped fines would never find him, nor would questions be raised as to why, late at night and without any form of driving licence, Helmut Marko had demolished his father’s Chevrolet Impala. (Their intentions hadn’t been all bad: following the clique’s code of honour, the faster car [Impala v Simca Monthléry] was only allowed to overtake in the corners. Even as a teenager, Jochen Rindt wasn’t one to offer the ideal line to rising talents, and with a lorry then coming the other way, it was simply too tight.

The Impala, caught in the headlights of Rindt’s Simca, seesawed a couple of times on the bank until Marko decided to abandon ship. The car fell in the other direction.)

The intended car-less time in the remote boarding school was, however, made bearable by a skiing accident that befell Rindt: leg in plaster. The company that he would eventually inherit (a spice mill in Mainz; his parents were killed in the Hamburg bombing raids), sent a VW Beetle with chauffeur for the poor boy’s daily shuttle service. The chauffeur immediately received his marching orders – after all, there were other pupils who already had a driving licence.

In fact, entirely predictably, the only people ever to take the wheel were those sans documents. And a plastered leg firmly planted on the throttle was no handicap.

Four would sit on the car, the driver plus three witnesses who looked at the stopwatch, checked the maximum revs and gave points for cornering style. If the committee found fault, the next passenger took a turn at the wheel.

For the full story pick up the September Red Bulletin Magazine.



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