The Austrian city of Graz is set to commemorate local hero Jochen Rindt in 2020, 50 years after his tragic death and posthumous World Drivers’ Championship.
Born in Germany and raised in the Austrian city of Graz after his parents were killed in WW2, Jochen Rindt was described by friends and peers, including Jackie Stewart, as the fastest driver of his generation. Managed by Bernie Ecclestone, Rindt won the 24 hours Le Mans in 1965 at the age of 24 but was held back during his early races in Formula 1 by sub-par machinery and bad luck. His first win finally came in 1969 at the wheel of a Lotus and the following year, he was unstoppable. Driving Colin Chapman’s beautiful Lotus 72, Rindt recorded five wins in the first eight rounds of the 1970 World Championship.
Rindt died at the wheel of his Lotus during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 5, 1970. His closest championship rival, Jacky Ickx of Ferrari, was unable to bridge the points gap to Rindt despite two late-season wins, meaning Rindt became the first (and so far, only) driver to be awarded the Formula 1 World Championship title after his death.
In a pub on the Griesgasse in his adopted city of Graz, you still can see the framed front page of the local “Kleine Zeitung” newspaper from September 6, 1970, which simply reads: Jochen Rindt ist tot (Jochen Rind is dead). This is a reminder that Rindt’s untimely death at age 28 was not only a shock to the F1 world. After marrying the Finnish model Nina Lincoln, the pair had become celebrities throughout Europe and beyond.
Graz to remember its adopted son in 2020
This year marks 50 years since Jochen Rindt lost his life, and his adopted hometown of Graz is preparing to commemorate its local hero in several ways. The special events were announced recently by Graz mayor Sigi Nagl and Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Racing advisor and honorary citizen of Graz, who was a friend of Jochen Rindt.
Mayor Nagl said “we want to guarantee the reputation of Jochen Rindt permanently in Graz. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death in the coming year, the racing legend will therefore have a special commemoration over a longer period of time.”
“Our acquaintance began when we were 16 years old,” commented Dr Helmut Marko. “Jochen always went to the limit back then, he always wanted to be the best. In our days in Graz, we enjoyed the city’s party life to the fullest on weekends. Jochen was the pop star of motorsport. “
At a special event in Graz on May 19, a square in the Reininghaus district of the city will be renamed after Jochen Rindt. A tram station will also bear his name and a special “Rindt Tram” will be running during 2020. On the same day, the Jochen Rindt Exhibition will open in the GrazMuseum. Jochen Rindt’s widow, Nina Rindt, is expected to attend. The exhibition is set to feature a few of Rindt’s original racing cars, including the Ford GT40 that Rindt raced at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as memorabilia and documents from his short but illustrious career. The exhibition will run until October 2020.