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Lauda, Niki (born 1949)

Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda (born February 22, 1949 in Vienna). World famous as a former Formula One (F1) race car driver and three-time F1 World Champion. He has founded and run two airlines (Lauda Air and Niki) and was manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years.

In 1976 Lauda's Ferrari swerved off the track, due to a suspected rear suspension failure, hit an embankment and rolled back into the race track. Lauda's Ferrari burst into flames while he was trapped in the wreckage. Oncoming drivers arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before they were able to pull Lauda from his car, he suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood. Although Lauda was conscious and able to stand immediately after the accident, he later lapsed into a coma.

Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns, which became possibly his most famous attribute in the eyes of the public. He only had enough reconstructive surgery to get his eyelids to work properly, but never felt a need to do any more. Since the accident he wears a red cap to cover the scars on his head.

After his career as a race-car driver Niki Lauda started an airline: LaudaAir. During his time as airline manager, he was appointed consultant at Ferrari as part of an effort by Montezemolo to rejuvenate the team. After a share sale to majority partner Austrian Airlines in 1999, he managed the Jaguar Formula One racing team from 2001 to 2002. In late 2003, he started a new airline, Niki. Lauda holds a commercial pilot's license and from time to time acts as a captain on the flights of his airline.

Lauda has two sons with his first wife, Marlene: Mathias and Lukas. They divorced in 1991. He remarried in 2008, and his second wife Birgit gave birth to twins, a son and a daughter in October 2009.

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