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The racer Jochen Rindt started motor racing in 1961. Switching to single-seaters in 1963, he was successful in both Formula Junior and Formula Two. In 1964, Rindt made his debut in Formula One at the Austrian Grand Prix, before securing a full drive with Cooper for 1965. After mixed results with the team, he moved to Brabham for 1968 and then Lotus in 1969.
It was at Lotus that Rindt found a competitive car, although he was often concerned about the safety of the notoriously unreliable Lotus vehicles. He won his first Formula One race at the 1969 United States Grand Prix. He had a very successful 1970 season, mainly racing the revolutionary Lotus 72, and won five of the first nine races. In practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, he spun into the guardrails after a failure on his car's brake shaft.