Niki Lauda's helmet from fiery Nürburgring crash goes up for auction


The scarred and burned helmet, worn by Niki Lauda in his Nürburgring crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, is being sold at public auction for the first time

Niki Lauda German Grand Prix 1976 helmet

Niki Lauda's charred German GP helmet up for sale


The paintwork is deeply scarred, the visor is partly melted, and the decals are tattered: Niki Lauda’s helmet from the 1976 German Grand Prix bears witness to the violence and intense heat of the crash and fireball that almost claimed his life at the Nürburgring.

Now, for the first time, the helmet is being sold by Bonhams at public auction and is estimated to fetch between $50,000-$60,000 (£40,400-£48,500) when it goes under the hammer in Miami, ahead of next month’s Grand Prix.

Lauda’s red helmet, as well as his red caps, became his trademark, and none are more significant than this, from the crash and subsequent recovery that defined him. It came off in the accident, as Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 slammed into a barrier, burst into flames and was then struck by Brett Lunger’s Surtees.

1976 Niki Lauda helmet

Niki Lauda’s 1976 helmet up for sale


Trapped in the cockpit for almost a minute, Lauda was saved by the actions of Lunger, Harald Ertl, Arturo Merzario and Guy Edwards who pulled him from the wreckage. He was rushed to hospital, close to death with severe burns and lung damage, and delivered the last rites.

Lauda’s determined recovery has become legend: 40 days after the crash, still bandaged, he returned to compete at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth to resume his famous duel for the championship with James Hunt.

From the archive

Held privately since the crash, the car will be sold on May 4 as part of Bonhams’ Miami auction, during the Miami Grand Prix weekend. Some of the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF, a charity chosen by the Lauda family.

“We are delighted that our father’s legacy continues to provide help and assistance to those in most need,” said Niki Lauda’s son Lukas. “The challenges faced by UNICEF in providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide are enormous, if we can make a small contribution towards improving opportunities for others; we are delighted to do so.”

The helmet is part of a collection of eight that are being sold. Others have been worn by Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Gilles Villeneuve, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi and Eddie Irvine.

“We are privileged to present this historically significant helmet, as a testament to Niki Lauda’s legacy as a driver and as a champion for driver safety,” said Bonhams Automobilia Specialist James Garguilo. “His unyielding determination and sheer courage altered the trajectory of racing history.”

Lauda helmts Boinhams

Helmets of Schumacher, Lauda, Prost and Mansell all up for auction at the Miami GP