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Jackie Stewart - Survived Near-fatal Crash A Champion

prix grand racing championship

Stewart placed in the top six spots, earning championship points in his first six Grand Prix races. He qualified in pole position for a nonchampionship race at Goodwood, and beat World Champion John Surtees into second place in the International Silverstone Trophy race. He beat teammate Graham Hill to the finish line at the 1965 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He finished the season third overall for the World Championship, an amazing finish for a rookie driver. The 1966 season started promisingly with a win for Stewart at Monaco, but technical problems kept him out of the competition for the remainder of the season, and he finished sixth in the World Championship. He almost won the Indianapolis 500 that year, his first, but mechanical failure took him out of the race with only eight laps to go.

When he entered F1, the sport was "horrendously dangerous," he is quoted as saying in Forbes. "There were no seat belts worn, the medical care was pathetic, and there was no firefighting equipment to speak of." Stewart witnessed the deaths of many friends and rivals during his racing career, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, and Francois Cevert among them. Like all F1 drivers of the time, Stewart was driving without a seatbelt when he crashed during the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 1966. He ran off the track while driving 165 mph in heavy rain, and proceeded to crash into a telephone pole and a shed before driving into a farmer's outbuilding. A ruptured fuel tank filled the cockpit with fuel, and could have ignited at the tiniest spark with Stewart trapped inside. He was extracted from what could easily have been a fatal crash, having suffered broken ribs and shoulder and rib injuries.

Chronology

1939 Born June 11 in Dumbartonshire, Scotland
1953 Begins competition shooting
1954 Leaves school to work in family gas station
mid-1950s First drives Auston 16; brother Jimmy is injured in crash and retires from racing
1959-62 Wins British, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and English trap shooting championships
1960 Fails to make the British Olympic shooting team
1962 Drives first race at Charterhall
1962 Marries wife Helen
1963 Drives for Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team in a Cooper-Monaco sportscar
1964 Drives the British Formula Three championship in a Cooper-BMC
1964 Turns down prestigious Lotus F1 team position, signs with BRM
1964 Drives as guest for Lotus in the Rand Grand Prix
1965 Debuts with BRM and earns sixth place in South African Grand Prix
1965 Wins Italian Grand Prix at Monza
1966 Crashes during Belgian Grand Prix, becomes a champion of F1 safety reform
1967 Leaves BRM for new Tyrell team
1968 Loses F1 World Championship to Graham Hill
1969 Wins first F1 World Championship
1971 Wins F1 World Championship
1973 Wins F1 World Championship, retires with record twenty-seven Grand Prix wins
1973 Joins ABC Wide World of Sports; signs with Ford as engineering consultant
1997 Launches Stewart Racing team with son Paul
2001 Is knighted by the Queen of England

Related Biography: Driver Jim Clark

Fellow Scot Jim Clark was the greatest racing driver on the track when Jackie Stewart entered F1. Competition between the legend and the rookie promised to develop into a rich rivalry, but Clark died before Stewart had fully hit his stride. Born March 4, 1936 in Kilmany, Scotland, Clark, like Stewart, went into racing against his parents' wishes. He proved his mettle at first in friends' cars, but began to attract attention in the Jaguar D Type he drove for the Border Reivers team. After plans for an Aston Martin Grand Prix team collapsed, he signed with Lotus to drive in the Formula Two and Formula Junior series. His relationship with the manufacturer carried him into F1 with the team, which was running the fastest cars, though not always the most mechanically reliable. He first raced F1 in 1960, and was a leading contender until his death. He won the World Championship in 1963, and was challenged by newcomer Stewart for the 1965 title, which he also took home. Reserved and gentlemanly, Clark preferred his family and farm in Scotland to the cosmopolitan life of an F1 driver. He was just beginning to come into his own in the spotlight when he died. Still considered by many the greatest racing driver in history, Clark was killed April 7, 1968 in a crash at Hockenheim.

Stewart emerged from the experience a lifelong champion of safety reform who instituted countless changes in auto racing safety regulations. He was able to return to the driver's seat after a few weeks, and never again drove without a seatbelt, full-faced helmet, and fireproof racing suit. BRM head Louis Stanley backed Stewart's safety campaign to improve track and car standards and medical facilities. Track improvements in the name of safety that were unpopular with circuit owners have now become

Jackie Stewart, sitting in car

the norm. "If I have any legacy to leave the sport I hope it will be seen to be in an area of safety," Stewart is quoted as saying on the Grand Prix Hall of Fame Web site, "because when I arrived in Grand Prix racing, socalled precautions and safety measures were diabolical."

Jackie Stewart - Chronology [next] [back] Jackie Stewart - Put Down Gun To Get Behind Wheel

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