Lauda returned to the track just two races later, winning two more world titles in 1977 and 1984. He was pulled from the auto as the fire raged by his fellow drivers, a maneuver that might have saved his life.
Images of the accident went around the world.
Lauda suffered severe burns to his head and wrists, as well as having his lungs burnt from the toxic fumes.
"The main damage, I think to myself, was lung damage from inhaling all the flames and fumes while I was sitting in the auto for about 50 seconds", he recalled almost a decade later. One shocked journalist at the time wrote how he had seen Lauda peel blood-soaked bandages from his scalp after the race.
Rememberings poured in from drivers, teams, and team managers, honouring the memory of one Grand Prix racing's greatest legends.
Despite his horrific injuries, Lauda only missed two races and against all odds lined up on the Monza grid just six weeks later to resume the title fight with Hunt.
The rivalry between the pair was later made into a film starring Daniel Bruhl as Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as Hunt in 2013.
Lauda remained closely involved with the F1 circuit after retiring as a driver in 1985, and in recent years served as the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team.
"His passing leaves a void in Formula 1". His 1975 season began with fifth-place results in the first four races, but he won four of the next five driving the new Ferrari 312T.
In 1979 he left the sport to concentrate on setting up his airline, Lauda Air. In 2004, he went on to create the profitable low-priced carrier Niki, selling it to Germany's Air Berlin in 2011.
At 70 years old, Niki Lauda clearly had a passion and interest in the business of aviation as much as he did for motorsports and racing.
He is also an airline entrepreneur and recently agreed to sell his controlling stake in Laudamotion to Ryanair.
After departing Formula One as a driver Lauda held multiple management and consulting positions.
"First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki's children, his family and close friends".
Formula One also tweeted their heartfelt condolences, saying: 'Rest in peace Niki Lauda.
Niki Lauda sitting in McLaren Mercedes alongside his sons, Mathias, left, and Lukas, right.
But his expertise, sometimes brutal honesty and drive also won him respect from those who recognised his work ethic, analytical mind and willingness to learn from mistakes.
The Austrian had been battling health issues since mid-last year, including a lung transplant in August that required a two-month stay in hospital. He failed by just one point.