Helmut Marko

Helmut Marko

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Helmut Marko

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Dr. Helmut Marko (born April 27, 1943 in Graz) is a former racing driver from Austria.

A friend of Jochen Rindt, he entered racing, and eventually participated in 10 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 15 August 1971. He scored no championship points.

However, he had more success in endurance racing, winning the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Martini-Porsche 917K with Gijs van Lennep. During that year, they set a distance record which remained unbeaten until the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans (5,335.313 km, at an average of 222.304 km/h).

Despite being concerned about the lack of safety at the Targa Florio, he drove the fastest laps around the mountains of Sicily in order to catch up several minutes, eventually losing by mere seconds. On 21 May 1972, Helmut Marko set the all-time race lap record of the 72 km event in an Alfa Romeo 33 at 33 min 41 sec, at an average of 128.253 km/h.

A few weeks later on 2 July, during the 1972 French Grand Prix, a stone thrown from Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus pierced through Marko's helmet visor and hit him in the eye, leaving him partially blind and ending his racing career.

Marko is also a barrister, and opened two hotels in Graz – "Schlossberghotel" and "Augartenhotel art&design" – after his racing career ended. Later, he returned to motor sport to become a manager for Gerhard Berger and Karl Wendlinger, before running his own Formula 3...
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