Niki Lauda is the Lazarus of Formula One.
Having risen in triumph from the brink of death, his tale of almost biblical proportions was given the Hollywood treatment in recently-released blockbuster "Rush."
But the straight-talking triple world champion does not believe in miracles or the sentiment of the silver screen.
The Austrian has built his own legacy by defying not only death, but also his family, employers and arch rivals along the way.
"I go my own way," the 64-year-old, whose fightback from life-threatening injuries in 1976 to win two more world titles ranks as one of sport's greatest comebacks, told CNN's The Circuit.
"Thank god, I learned in sport, that there is no excuse. It's very simple, if you're first, second or third there's no discussion.
"If something goes wrong, look into yourself first -- what did I do wrong?
"I only see black and white, I have no gray areas and I hate them.
"I try to analyze, take the decision, even if it's the wrong one, it's better than making no decision because if you take no decision you never find out what you have to do. "
Lauda was born into a wealthy Austrian family four years after the end of World War II, but despite growing up with privilege he learned quickly that he would have to make his own way in the world.
His family disapproved of their teenage son's racing ambitions. When Lauda found an Austrian bank to sponsor his debut with the March F1 team, his grandfather -- who happened to sit on the board of the bank -- scotched the deal.
"He said, 'No way! If this is my grandson, you will not sponsor him,' " Lauda says.
"I really got upset with him and said, 'Leave me alone, it is my own business.' Then I started racing my own way."
Lauda bankrolled his own way on to the F1 grid, making his debut in the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix for the uncompetitive March team.
His decision to take out further bank loans to finance his F1 career paid off at the end of 1973 when he was signed by Ferrari -- but even this new era with the sport's most iconic team saw Lauda continue to do things his way.
"I remember my first test in Fiorano," he recalls. "I drove the first couple of laps and (team founder) Enzo Ferrari was there and Piero his son to translate.
"Ferrari said, 'So kid what do you think of this car?'
"I said the car was s**t. And Piero said, 'You cannot say this. You cannot tell my father that the car is s**t because he will throw you out. Tell him it's no good, it sounds a little better.'
"He told him and the old man really got upset because I criticized a Ferrari."
Lucky to be alive
Lauda soon earned the respect of "Il Commendatore," a proponent of tough love who the Austrian still describes as "the most charismatic guy I have ever met in my whole life."
In 1975 he stormed to five wins to capture his first world title with the Italian powerhouse -- but the following season fate cruelly intervened.
Going into the German Grand Prix at the notorious Nurburgring circuit, which he had asked his fellow drivers to boycott due to its poor safety setup, Lauda was leading the 1976 title hunt.
He came out of the race fighting for his life.