- Category : Racing Driver
- Type : ME
- Profile : 3/6 - Martyr / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (21)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 2
Sir John Young "Jackie" Stewart, OBE (born 11 June 1939) is a British former Formula One racing driver from Scotland. Nicknamed the "Flying Scot", he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers' Championships. He also competed in Can-Am. He is well known in the United States as a color commentator (pundit) of racing television broadcasts, and as a spokesman for Ford, where his Scottish accent has made him a distinctive presence. Between 1997 and 1999, in partnership with his son, Paul, he was team principal of the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One racing team. In 2009 he was ranked fifth of the fifty greatest Formula One drivers of all time by journalist Kevin Eason who wrote: "He has not only emerged as a great driver, but one of the greatest figures of motor racing."
Stewart's family were Austin, later Jaguar, car dealers and had built up a successful business, Dumbuck Garage, in Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland where Stewart was born. His father had been an amateur motorcycle racer, and his brother Jimmy was a racing driver with a growing local reputation who drove for Ecurie Ecosse and competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, until he went off at Copse Corner in the wet.
Jackie attended Hartfield primary school in Dumbarton, and moved to Dumbarton Academy at the age of 12. He experienced learning difficulties owing to undiagnosed dyslexia and was unable to continue his secondary education past the age of 16. He has said: “When you’ve got dyslexia and you find something you’re good at, you put more into it than anyone else; you can’t think the way of the clever folk, so you’re always thinking out of the box." As a result he was not allowed to continue his secondary school programmes and began working in his father's garage. At the age of 13 he had won a clay pigeon shooting competition and then went on to become a prize winning member of the Scottish shooting team, competing in the United Kingdom and abroad. He won the British, Welsh and Scottish skeet shooting championships and the "Coupe des Nations" European championship. He also competed for a place in the British trap shooting team for the 1960 Summer Olympics, which was awarded to another competitor named Joe Wheater. His early involvement with cars was in the family business, where he worked as an apprentice mechanic and it was only natural that he would soon become involved in motor racing.
He took up an offer from Barry Filer, a customer of his family business, to test in a number of his cars at Oulton Park. For 1961, Filer provided a Marcos, in which Stewart scored four wins, and competed once in Filer's Aston DB4GT. In 1962, to decide if he was ready to turn pro, tested a Jaguar E-type at Oulton Park, matching Roy Salvadori's times in a similar car the year before. He won two races, his first in England, in the E-type, and David Murray of Ecurie Ecosse offered him a ride in the Tojeiro EE Mk2, then their Cooper T49, in which he won at Goodwood. For 1963, he earned fourteen wins, a second, and two thirds, with just six retirements.
In 1964, he again signed with Ecurie Ecosse. More important, Ken Tyrrell, then running the Formula Junior team for the Cooper Car Company, heard of the young Scotsman from Goodwood's track manager and called up Jimmy Stewart to see if his younger brother was interested in a tryout. Jackie came down for the test at Goodwood, taking over a new, and very competitive, Formula Three T72-BMC Bruce McLaren was testing. Soon Stewart was bettering McLaren's times, causing McLaren to return to the track for some quicker laps. Again, Stewart was quicker, and Tyrrell offered Stewart a spot on the team. This would be the beginning of a great partnership that would see them reach the pinnacle of the sport.
In 1964 he drove in Formula Three for Tyrrell. His debut, in the wet at Snetterton on 15 March, was dominant, taking an astounding 25 second lead in just two laps before coasting home to a win on a 44 second cushion. Within days, he was offered a Formula One ride with Cooper, but declined, preferring to gain experience under Tyrrell; he failed to win just two races (one to clutch failure, one to a spin) in becoming F3 champion.
After running John Coombs' E-type and practising in a Ferrari at Le Mans, he took a trial in an F1 Lotus 33-Climax, in which he impressed Colin Chapman and Jim Clark.c Stewart again refused a ride in F1, but went instead to the Lotus Formula Two team. In his F2 debut, he was second at the difficult Clermont-Ferrand circuit in a Lotus 32-Cosworth.
While he signed with BRM alongside Graham Hill in 1965, a contract which netted him £4,000, his first race in an F1 car was for Lotus, as stand-in for an injured Clark, at the Rand Grand Prix in December 1964; the Lotus broke in the first heat, but he won the second. On his F1 debut in South Africa, he scored his first Championship point, finishing sixth. His first major competition victory came in the BRDC International Trophy in the late spring, and before the end of the year he won his first World Championship race at Monza, fighting wheel-to-wheel with teammate Hill's P261. Stewart finished his rookie season with three seconds, a third, a fifth, and a sixth, and third place in the World Drivers' Championship. He also piloted Tyrrell's unsuccessful F2 Cooper T75-BRM, and ran the Rover Company's revolutionary turbine car at Le Mans.
1966 saw him almost win the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt, in John Mecom's Lola T90-Ford only to be denied by a broken scavenge pump while leading by over a lap with eight laps to go; however, Stewart's performance, having had the race fully in hand and sidelined only by mechanical failure, won him Rookie of the Year honours despite the winner, Graham Hill, also being an Indianapolis rookie.
Also, in 1966, a crash triggered his fight for improved safety in racing. On lap one of the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, when sudden rain caused many crashes, he found himself trapped in his overturned BRM, getting soaked by leaking fuel, which can result in a fire. The marshals had no tools to help him, and it took his teammate Hill and Bob Bondurant, who had also crashed nearby, to get him out. Since then, a main switch to disconnect electrics and a removable steering wheel have become standard. Also, noticing the long and slow transport to a hospital, he brought his own doctor to future races, while BRM supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all. It was a poor year all around; the BRMs were notoriously unreliable, although Stewart did win the Monaco Grand Prix. Stewart had some success in other forms of racing during the year, winning the 1966 Tasman Series and the 1966 Rothmans 12 Hour International Sports Car Race.
BRM's fortunes did not improve in 1967, during which Stewart came no higher than second at Spa, though he won F2 events for Tyrrell at Karlskoga, Enna, Oulton Park, and Albi in a Matra MS5 or MS7. He also placed 2nd driving a works-entered Ferrari driving with Chris Amon at the BOAC 6 Hours at Brands Hatch, the 10th round of World Sportscar Championship at the time.
In Formula One, he switched to Tyrrell's Matra International team, where he drove a Matra MS10-Cosworth for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Skill (and improving tyres from Dunlop) brought a win in heavy rain at Zandvoort. Another win in rain and fog at the Nürburgring, where he won by a margin of four minutes. He also won at Watkins Glen, but missed Jarama and Monaco due to an F2 injury at Jarama. His car failed at Mexico City, and so lost the driving title to Hill.
In 1969, Stewart had a number of races where he completely dominated the opposition, such as winning by over 2 laps at Montjuïc, a whole minute at Clemont-Ferrand and more than a lap at Silverstone. With additional wins at Kyalami, Zandvoort, and Monza, Stewart became world champion in 1969 in a Matra MS80-Cosworth. Until September 2005, when Fernando Alonso in a Renault became champion, he was the only driver to have won the championship driving for a French marque and, as Alonso's Renault was built in the UK, Stewart remains the only driver to win the world championship in a French-built car.
For 1970, Matra insisted on using their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworths as well as the good connection to Ford. As a consequence, the Tyrrell team bought a chassis from March Engineering; Stewart took the March 701-Cosworth to wins at the Daily Mail Race of Champions and Jarama, but was soon overcome by Lotus' new 72. The new Tyrrell 001-Cosworth, appearing in August, suffered problems, but Stewart saw better days for it in 1971, and stayed on. Tyrrell continued to be sponsored by French fuel company Elf, and Stewart raced in a car painted French Racing Blue for many years. Stewart also continued to race sporadically in Formula Two, winning at the Crystal Palace and placing at Thruxton. A projected Le Mans appearance, to co-drive the 4.5 litre Porsche 917K with Steve McQueen, did not come off, for McQueen's inability to get insurance. He also raced Can-Am, in the revolutionary Chaparral 2J. Stewart achieved pole position in 2 events, ahead of the dominant McLarens, but the chronic unreliability of the 2J prevented Stewart from finishing any races.
Stewart went on to win the Formula One world championship in 1971 using the excellent Tyrrell 003-Cosworth, winning Spain, Monaco, France, Britain, Germany, and Canada. He also did a full season in Can-Am, driving a Carl Haas sponsored Lola T260-Chevrolet. and again in 1973. During the 1971 Can-Am series, Stewart was the only driver able to challenge the McLarens driven by Dennis Hulme and Peter Revson. Stewart won 2 races; at Mont Treblant and Mid Ohio. Stewart finished 3rd in the 1971 Can-Am Drivers Championship. The stress of racing year round, and on several continents eventually caused medical problems for Stewart. During the 1972 Grand Prix season he missed Spa, due to gastritis, and had to cancel plans to drive a Can-Am McLaren, but won the Argentine, French, U.S., and Canadian Grands Prix, to come second to Emerson Fittipaldi in the drivers' standings. Stewart also competed in a Ford Capri RS2600 in the European Touring Car Championship, with F1 teammate François Cevert and other F1 pilots, at a time where the competition between Ford and BMW was at a height. Stewart shared a Capri with F1 Tyrrell teammate François Cevert in the 1972 6 hours of Paul Ricard, finishing second. He also received an OBE.
Entering the 1973 season, Stewart had decided to retire. He nevertheless won at South Africa, Belgium, Monaco, Holland, and Austria. His last (and then record-setting) 27th victory came at the Nürburgring with a convincing 1-2 for Tyrrell. "Nothing gave me more satisfaction than to win at the Nürburgring and yet, I was always afraid." Stewart later said. "When I left home for the German Grand Prix I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I'd come home again." After the fatal crash of his teammate François Cevert in practice for the 1973 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Stewart retired one race earlier than intended and missed what would have been his 100th Grand Prix. Nevertheless, Stewart still won the drivers' championship for the year.
Stewart held the record for most wins by a Formula One driver (27) for 14 years (broken by Alain Prost in 1987) and the record for most wins by a British Formula One driver for 19 years (broken by Nigel Mansell in 1992).
Racing safety advocate
During Stewart's F1 career, an F1 driver who raced for five years had a two-thirds chance of being killed in a crash.
At Spa-Francorchamps in 1966, Stewart ran off the track while driving at 165 mph (266 km/h) in heavy rain, and crashed into a telephone pole and a shed before coming to rest in a farmer's outbuilding. His steering column pinned his leg, while ruptured fuel tanks emptied their contents into the cockpit. There were no track crews to extricate him, nor were proper tools available. There were no doctors or medical facilities at the track, and Stewart was put in the bed of a pickup truck, remaining there until an ambulance arrived. He was first taken to the track's first aid centre, where he waited on a stretcher, which was placed on a floor strewn with cigarette ends and other rubbish. Finally, another ambulance crew picked him up, but the ambulance driver got lost driving to a hospital in Liège. Ultimately, a private jet flew Stewart back to the UK for treatment.
After his crash at Spa, Stewart became an outspoken advocate for auto racing safety. Later, he explained, "If I have any legacy to leave the sport I hope it will be seen to be an area of safety because when I arrived in Grand Prix, racing so-called precautions and safety measures were diabolical."
Stewart continued, commenting on his crash at Spa:
I lay trapped in the car for twenty-five minutes, unable to be moved. Graham and Bob Bondurant got me out using the spanners from a spectator's toolkit. There were no doctors and there was nowhere to put me. They in fact put me in the back of a van. Eventually an ambulance took me to a first aid spot near the control tower and I was left on a stretcher, on the floor, surrounded by cigarette ends. I was put into an ambulance with a police escort and the police escort lost the ambulance, and the ambulance didn't know how to get to Liège. At the time they thought I had a spinal injury. As it turned out, I wasn't seriously injured, but they didn't know that. I realised that if this was the best we had there was something sadly wrong: things wrong with the race track, the cars, the medical side, the fire-fighting, and the emergency crews. There were also grass banks that were launch pads, things you went straight into, trees that were unprotected and so on. Young people today just wouldn't understand it. It was ridiculous.
In response, Stewart campaigned with Louis Stanley (BRM team boss) for improved emergency services and better safety barriers around race tracks. "We were racing at circuits where there were no crash barriers in front of the pits, and fuel was lying about in churns in the pit lane. A car could easily crash into the pits at any time. It was ridiculous." As a stop-gap measure, Stewart hired a private doctor to be at all his races, and taped a spanner to the steering shaft of his BRM in case it would be needed again. Stewart pressed for mandatory seat belt usage and full-face helmets for drivers, and today a race without those items is unthinkable. Likewise, he pressed track owners to modernize their track, including organizing driver boycotts of races at Spa-Francorchamps in 1969, the Nürburgring in 1970, and Zandvoort in 1972 until barriers, run-off areas, fire crews, and medical facilities were improved.
Stewart's work was not appreciated by track owners, race organizers, some drivers, and members of the press. "I would have been a much more popular World Champion if I had always said what people wanted to hear. I might have been dead, but definitely more popular." However, his race wins, combined with his popularity with the public and his business savvy, prevented his message from being silenced. Certainly, after his victory in the 1968 German GP at the 187-corner Nordschleife — in torrential rain, driving with a broken wrist, winning by more than four minutes — no one dared question his bravery as Stewart pushed for better safety standards.
Even though he is known as knowing the Nürburgring better than almost any other driver, he was recently quoted as saying "I never did a lap of the Nürburgring that I didn't have to do."
Today, Stewart's legacy as a safety advocate in motor racing is as great as his legacy as a race winner.