Howard in early talks for Formula 1 racing pic

'Rush' would reunite Ron Howard with 'Frost/Nixon' writer Peter Morgan

Ron Howard is looking to come full circle in the auto-racing genre, as the director is in early discussions to direct “Rush,” the Formula 1 biopic written by “Frost/Nixon” scribe Peter Morgan.

Pic centers on Niki Lauda, the Austrian three-time F1 champion who nearly died in a fiery crash in 1976, only to emerge six weeks later, still nursing severe burns on his face and head, to pursue his rivalry with fellow driver James Hunt. Cross Creek Pictures, which scored a major coup by backing the surprise hit “Black Swan,” has agreed to finance.

Paul Greengrass had been rumored to be circling, but he’s since boarded Sony’s “A Captain’s Duty,” the story of the Somali pirates saga starring Tom Hanks as Capt. Richard Phillips.

While “Rush” is in early stages, Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Howard would likely produce alongside Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Working Title’s Eric Fellner.

Sources say Howard, who is currently attached to direct an adaptation of Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, has eyed other helming gigs in the wake of rumblings that Universal stalled the hugely ambitious movies-and-TV project due to budgetary and creative concerns.

In May, Variety reported that Grazer and Howard were working on a sequel to the 1976 racing caper “Eat My Dust,” which starred Howard as a speed-crazed teen who steals a stock car to win over a girl. That Roger Corman pic led to Howard’s first directing gig and another high-speed caper, “Grand Theft Auto,” the following year.

Hollywood is on a bit of a tear with racing-themed projects: Steven Spielberg was reportedly looking at a biopic based on Hunt back in November, while Variety first reported in May that Michael Mann was nearing a deal with 20th Century Fox to direct “Go Like Hell,” the true story of the furious competition between Ford and Ferrari in 1966, when an American car won the Le Mans for the first time.