The Flying Scot
Sir Jackie Stewart is recognized as one of the greatest personalities in motor racing. He was born in the town of Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland where his family operated a car dealership that sold Austin’s and Jaguar’s. His father was an amateur motorcycle racer and his brother, Jimmy, was a skilled driver who competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix. Stewart had learning difficulties from a young age due to undiagnosed dyslexia. He was unable to continue his education past the age of 16 and began working in his father’s garage as an apprentice mechanic.
One day, a customer of the family business named Barry Filer invited Stewart to test-drive his cars at a local race course. Filer was very pleased with Stewart’s performance, and provided him with his first racecar. Stewart would earn four wins in that car, and in 1962 decided to pursue a career as a professional driver. Stewart won 14 races in 1963 and caught the attention of racing team manager Ken Tyrrell, who offered him a tryout in a Formula Three car that Bruce McLaren had been testing. Stewart laid down even faster lap times than McLaren, and was offered a spot on the team. He would become the Formula Three champion that year, and would become a Formula One driver in 1965 after signing with BRM.
Stewart would compete in Formula One from 1965-1973, winning three World Championships. Though he was immensely successful, a crash at the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix prompted him to become an advocate for racing safety. Stewart crashed into a telephone pole and a shed before coming to rest in a farmer’s outbuilding. The impact broke the steering column and pinned his leg while the ruptured fuel tanks emptied into the cockpit. There were no track crews to extract him. “I realized things were wrong with the race track, the cars, the medical side, the fire-fighting, and the emergency crews” Stewart said. Stewart would also become well-known as a racing commentator and as a spokesman for Ford. A talented driver and ambassador for motorsports, Sir Jackie Stewart is one of the most universally respected names in racing.