Lotus in Austria
The first Lotus, that appeared in Austria possibly was an Eleven driven by Dan Margulis at the Vienna Preis 1957 in Aspern. In 1961 Stirling Moss won this event with the Lotus 18 Climax. In 1959 David Piper drove his Lotus 16 F2 into 2nd place in Zeltweg and Innes Ireland gained a victory there in 1961.
The international success in motorsports made Lotus also popular in austria. In the sixties 2 Racing-Elans, 2 Lotus 23, 1 Lotus 47, some Cortinas und several Single Seater were driven by local drivers on austrian race tracks.
The formula junior pilot Rolf Markl became first Lotus distributor for Austria in 1963. In Markl´s house in vienna lived the young racing talent Jochen Rindt. Photographs of those days are showing Jim Clark at a garden-party with Rindt and Markl in Vienna. Chapman asked Rindt in 1969 to drive for the Team Lotus.
The relationship between Rindt and Chapman was not always free of strain, but Chapman recognized Rindt´s potential. After Jochen Rindt´s fatal accident in Monza 1970, he was declared world champion in Formula 1 posthumously. Rindt´s death was a shock for the whole country and he is remembered as a national hero up to the present.
The seventies brought the oil crisis and decreasing sales for Lotus. Worth mentioning are the 2 rallye-cross(!) prepared Esprits of Josef Annessi and the turbocharged Europa of Harald Ertl for the Interseries.
In Zeltweg, on the austrian grand prix circuit, Lotus won 4 victories: 1972 - Fittipaldi, 1973 and 1978 - Peterson and in 1982 - Elio de Angelis. This was the last time in Chapmans life to see a victory for Lotus.
Colin Chapman often came to Austria, not only for the races, but also for skiing. One photograph in Jabby Crombac´s Chapman-biography is showing him speeding downhill in Obergurgel!