The Austrian Grand Prix story starts, just like with many Grand Prix tales, with a group of individuals that were passionate about motor racing in the 1950s. These local folks created a very simple L-shaped circuit with hay bales and cones in Zeltweg town. The maiden race for the international sports cars took place in 1958. Wolfgang von Trips won this premier race in a Porsche. Nonetheless, the remarkably bumpy track attacked plenty of criticisms. This did not stop the circuit from holding two more rounds of Formula Two Championship (1959 and 1960).
The organizers had a dream of hosting an interesting Formula One race. In 1961 and 1963, Zeltweg town played host to non-championship events. Jack Branham and Innes Ireland won the races in 1963 and 1961 respectively.
Jochen Rindt, an Austrian superstar, rose as a result of the two events. As Rindt ascended through the F1 ranks, Zeltweg town pushed for a championship event. In 1964, the town realizes this great dream. Lorenzo Bandini went on to claim his only victory in motor racing. In 1965, Formula One did not return. However, the sportscar event still ran. Rindt, a local hero, won the race in a Ferrari.
Rindt’s success, combined with an ever-growing interest of Formula One racing was enough to attract funding. The funding led to the creation of a purpose built circuit. A natural basin was the location of the Osterreichring. Over time, it proved to among the fastest tracks worldwide. Its demand on driver skill, wonderful aesthetics, and impressive corners were some of the reasons for the high popularity of this circuit.
In 1970, the maiden Formula One race was held at the track. Rindt was highly dominant throughout the race. Actually, a win was expected for the Australian. Nonetheless, to the disappointment of home fans, this was not to be. Jacky Ickx took the chequered flag for Ferrari. The good thing is that there was always a next year. Sadly, at the same year’s Italian Grand Prix, Rindt died after a crash. He became the first racer of the sport to die during a race.
Consequently, the entire Austrian nation and sport fraternity were quite devastated. Fortunately, sooner than expected, NikiLunda would become Austria’s new hero. During the mid-1970s, home fans turned up in huge numbers expecting Lauda to win. This did not happen.
In the 1975 motor racing event, Vittorio Brambilla won in March’s torrential conditions.