For Grand Prix and Le Mans, John
Frankenheimer and Steve McQueen
were able to shoot footage at the
actual events. Ron Howard had a
considerably more difficult job
trying to recreate events from
more than three decades before.
Thanks in large part to the
FIA Historic F1 series, Howard
assembled a remarkable grid of
genuine 1976 cars – supplemented
by a handful of fakes. The real
cars included two McLaren M23s,
two Ferrari 312Ts, two Lotus 77s
and two six-wheel Tyrrell P34s.
Also featured were examples of
the Shadow DN5, Penske PC3,
Surtees TS19, Hesketh 308D,
March 761, Tyrrell 007, Surtees
TS19 and Wolf-Williams FW05.
Some extra parts had to be
Sourcing the hardware
produced to ensure authenticity.
Authenticity was crucial in recreating the 1976 Formula 1 season for Rush, starting with the cars on the grid.
For the early races of 1976, cars
needed to be shot with their original
high airboxes – they were banned
from May onwards – and ’ 76
bodywork had to be made for the
P34s, which are usually seen in their
later, chunkier 1977 specification.
Cars were driven by their owners,
or someone approved by them,
which gave Howard a few concerns.
“I had this fear that they’re
dropped out to pursue another project,
he called Howard. The pair had worked
together on Frost/Nixon and kept in touch.
“Peter is unusual,” says Howard. “He
does something that very few writers
have the balls to do – he writes these
things on spec, and controls them. He’s
smart enough that every one of his spec
scripts has been produced, I believe, and
that’s rare. And he stays on as a producer.
“We’re good friends, but he’s a clever
guy, and he immediately creates an auction
for these things – he doesn’t wait around;
he wants to create urgency. The same
thing happened with Frost/Nixon, so I knew
I had to respond quickly. I read it. It wasn’t
as far along as a screenplay as Frost/Nixon
was – that had had months of rehearsal
and refinement – but it was damn good.”
Howard loved the twists and turns of
the story, and agrees that it couldn’t have
been made up – no fiction writer would
have had Lauda withdraw early from the
crucial, climactic Japanese GP.
“My biggest worry was the Fuji race as
the climax,” he says, “because that works
in fundamental opposition to the instincts
of a movie maker. Your protagonists aren’t
battling it out to the very last second of the
last race. But I think that turned out to be
a tremendous asset. It’s the value of a true
story – you actually wouldn’t write it that
way, and it gave it a kind of complexity,
and an honesty. It’s a surprise that people
who don’t know the story don’t see
Scarred and far from healed, but determined to defend his
F1 title, Niki Lauda returned at Monza, just six weeks after
his Nurburgring accident. It was a surprise to many –
not least Ferrari, which had enticed Carlos Reutemann
onboard in anticipation of a long absence for Lauda.
“My worry was Fuji as the climax.
It works in fundamental opposition
to the instincts of a movie maker”
Many more rare
images of the 1976
Formula 1 season
LAT are showcased in
Hunt vs. Lauda from
David Bull Publishing.
With words by
Paul Fearnley, it’s a
stunning record of
a dramatic season.
is $39.95, and a
will be available
shortly. Details at
HUNT vs. LAUDA: