Motorsport mourns the loss of one of its greatest supporters as Red Bull founder Dietrich “Didi” Mateschitz has lost his battle against a long, serious illness.
Mateschitz succumbed to a serious illness at the age of 78, with reports that Mateschitz was seriously ill circulating in the media at the beginning of October, though nothing was confirmed as the Austrian was a famously private individual.
But he leaves a legacy of almost 30 years in which the boss of Red Bull supported every conceivable automobile racing series with his beverage company, from Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship, NASCAR and DTM.
It wasn’t just car racing which Red Bull lent their name to MotoGP, the Superbike and Motocross World Championships.
Mateschitz, from Styria, graduated from the University of World Trade in Vienna with a degree in business. He studied for 10 years and in the first two years he focused on shipbuilding, and at the age of 28 he began his marketing career.
Mateschitz earned his living as a marketing manager at Unilever, Jacobs Coffee and at German toothpaste manufacturer Blendax, before he founded Red Bull.
Founding Red Bull
Mateschitz founded Red Bull in 1987 with Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya after tasting Krating Daeng while working in Thailand as a marketing executive for Blendax.
The group grew from a small business into a global behemoth, with the drink becoming synonymous with hair-raising stunts and daring feats as part of its iconic branding strategy.
The success of Red Bull made Mateschitz one of the wealthiest people on the planet, and Forbes put his net worth at $20.2 billion as of 2022.
The Austrian made his first foray into F1 by sponsoring Sauber, but that relationship ended in 2001 when the team opted to sign Kimi Raikkonen rather than Red Bull driver Enrique Bernolldi.
Following a brief hiatus, Red Bull returned to the sport with the purchase of the former Jaguar team in 2004, and since then the team have won six World Drivers’ Championships with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.
The company also has a strong presence in motorsports outside of F1, backing drivers and teams in everything from the World Rally Championship to MotoGP.
Christian Horner tribute to Mateschitz
Upon the news of Mateschitz’s death being made publish, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner offered a few words in tribute to the company founder.
“He’s few of a kind, what he achieved, and what he’s done for so many people around the world across different sports is second to none,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“So many of us have to be so grateful to him for the opportunities that he’s provided. The vision that he had, the strength of character, and never being afraid to follow your dreams and chase your dreams. And that’s what he did here in Formula 1.
“Proving that you can make a difference. We’re just incredibly grateful for him everything that he’s done everything that he’s supported us with over the years.
“So many drivers, so many team members, so many people in this pit lane owe him so much. He was passionate about Formula 1, passionate about the team.”