DRIVERS: HELMUT MARKO

Name: Helmut Marko
Nationality: Austria
Date of birth: April 27, 1943 - Graz

A contemporary of Jochen Rindt, Marko spent his teenage years hell-raising with the future World Champion, although he also found time to study law (and obtain a degree) before turning fulltime to his motor racing career. A man with obvious natural flair, Marko first hit the headlines in the middle of 1971 when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing a Porsche with Holland's Gijs van Lennep.

This led to a chance to drive an old McLaren which was being run by Jo Bonnier at the German Grand Prix. That adventure ended when the car ran out of fuel on its first lap out of the pits and Marko fell out with the team. As a result he failed to qualify. He was back in F1 in Austria two weeks later, at the wheel of a fourth BRM, and remarkably that event marked a victory for the Bourne team with Jo Siffert the winning driver. Marko returned to action again in Canada and the following year was seen in action with BRM once again. At the French GP at Clermont-Ferrand he seemed to have made the important breakthrough, qualifying on the third row of the grid ahead of established stars such as Francois Cevert (Tyrrell) and Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus). On the ninth lap, with Marko running in fifth position, a piece of stone was thrown up by the cars ahead, smashed through the visor of his helmet and went into his eye. Marko managed to avoid a big accident and stopped the car beside the track but a career that had promised so much was over. He lost the sight in his damaged eye and never raced in F1 again.

While his fellow countryman Niki Lauda became the new Austrian star in F1, Marko turned his attention to finding and promoting the careers of young Austrian drivers although it was not until the rise of Gerhard Berger that Marko's name was really established as a talent spotter. His RSM Marko team became a major player in the German Formula 3 series and later in Formula 3000 with Jorg Muller and Juan-Pablo Montoya. He went on to run the Red Bull Junior Team in Formula 3000 but eventually sold it and became a consultant to Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, helping out with his F1 plans.

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