Helmuth Koinigg was born in Vienna, Austria and though he came from a wealty background, he still found it hard to get the budget together to go racing at the top level.
Koinigg started racing in the ex-Lauda Mini Cooper S, where he attracted the attention of Helmut Marko in 1970. He became involved in Marko's McNamara project in Formula Vee where he was to spend the bulk of his short career. In 1971 he finished third in the Formula Vee series, beating Jochen Mass among others. The following year he came second to Manfred Schurti and finally in 1973 he won the title. However Formula Vee and Super Vee was not the place to be if you wanted to move up the ladder. Helmuth did make occasional outings into Formula Ford which did offer a glimpse of his natural talent.
With the problems of finding a budget to graduate to Formula 2, Helmuth was hired by the Ford Cologne touring car team in 1974 and by Martini Porsche for their Group 5 Porsche. He raced a Carrera RSR Turbo with Schurti at Le Mans, retiring after eight hours when the car caught fire.
During 1974 Koinigg married an Austrian Airlines stewardess, and came up with the money to buy a seat with Scuderia Finotto driving their Brabham at his home grand prix at Zeltweg, and although he failed to qualify, this led to a contract with Surtees for the last two races of the season driving a TS16.
After a good showing at the 1974 Canadian Grand Prix, Koinigg was beginning to establish himself as a good prospect for 1975. But running near the back at the US GP at Watkins Glen, he approaching the braking zone for the Boot when a suspension failure sent the car head-on into the outer armco. The speed at which Koinigg crashed was relatively minor and he should have escaped unhurt. However, as with a number of other circuits at that time, the armco barrier was incorrectly installed and the bottom portion of it buckled as the vehicle struck it. The Surtees just went under it, decapitating the luckless driver and killing him instantly.