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Jackie Stewart

Retirement Was A Relative Term

He had managed to beat the odds in auto racing and had come out on top, but Stewart also was "just plain bored, burned out, restless," Duncan Christy wrote in Forbes. "Where was I going?" he recalled asking himself. "What else was there to do? It was the same old ground. I could have stayed on as a racing car driver. I mean, Mario [Andretti] is the same age as I am. A.J. Foyt is a lot older. But I would never have developed; I would never have expanded as an individual."

Retirement meant nothing to Stewart; it kept him out of the cockpit but, career-wise, he remained very much in the driver's seat. He has worked as an advisor and ambassador for several international companies, including Ford and Goodyear Tire. "I knew it would be a good way to make money without the capital investment and risk necessary when you go into business yourself." He signed a five-year contract as an engineering consultant for Ford Motor Company, working with Ford engineers to improve handling. "American cars used to be like pregnant elephants," he told U.S. News & World Report, "Now, at least, Fords have become lean and clean in their response."

Stewart also joined ABC's Wide World of Sports as a commentator, which made him a household name in the 1970s and 1980s. "Wide World of Sports had a considerable impact on my life in general," Stewart is quoted as saying at ABC Sports online. "As a race driver it projected me in a way in the United States of America. I would otherwise never have been able to be put in the minds of sports fans in America. It helped my commercial life, my business life, and it helped my racing life. It was a good thing for me to have done." He was voted Wide World of Sports' Personality of the Year in 1973, which he was particularly honored by. "There's not country in the world that could give your sports people … more focus or more illumination," Stewart told ABC Sports online. In "such a galaxy" of American sports personalities, it was a "big thing" to be non-American and win the award. Stewart also has admitted that his title, "winningest driver in the history of Grand Prix," was like currency in his many lucrative business deals.

Stewart moved his family to Switzerland to avoid strict British tax laws early in his racing career, and he has long been known for his globetrotting lifestyle. Stewart travels upwards of 400,000 miles a year on the Concorde or in his private jet. Though his friend Prince Charles did not knight him until 2001, Sir Stewart has always kept company with royalty and celebrities, who adore him. He has rubbed elbows with Sean Connery, Prince Edward, Steven Spielberg, and Jordan's King Hussein, to name a few. Beatle George Harrison taught his sons to play guitar. Helen Stewart is godmother to Princess Anne's daughter Zara.

Awards and Accomplishments

1965 Wins Italian Grand Prix at Monza
1965 Third place, F1 World Championship
1966 Seventh place, F1 World Championship
1967 Ninth place, F1 World Championship
1968 Second place, F1 World Championship
1969, 1971, 1973 F1 World Championship
1970 Sixth place, F1 World Championship
1972 Second place, F1 World Championship
1973 World record for 27 career wins
1973 Named World Wide of Sports Athlete of the Year and Personality of the Year; named World, British, and Scottish Sportsman of the Year; and Sports Illustrated 's Sportsman of the Year
2001 Knighted by Queen of England
2001 Named Scotsman and Woman of the Year with wife Helen

Where Is He Now?

Stewart founded a shooting school at Scotland's prestigious Gleneagle Hotel in the early 1980s. Nearly thirty years after joining forces with Ford, he signed on in February 2002 for another three years in research and development with the American auto company. He has served since 1995 as president of the Scottish Dyslexia Trust. He has also been on the boards of and a spokesman for Moet & Chandon champagne and Rolex watches. Stewart's wife Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 just eighteen months after their son Paul was told he had colon cancer, which went into remission. "For years she stood waiting to see if I would survive a race; now it's me waiting," Stewart is quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated in 2002. "The past two years are probably the toughest thing I've had to deal with in my life." Stewart's younger son Mark, who runs a television production company, is making a four-part documentary of his father's life called The Flying Scot.

All in all, Stewart's long-held record earns him status in motor-racing history, but his impact on the sport is much greater than statistics can show. Every driver on the track has Stewart to thank for the safety mandates he championed that have saved many lives. Because of his American media exposure, he is surely the most-known F1 driver in the States. But his reputation as a class-act sportsman and businessman are the result of a lifetime of integrity and good humor both on and off the track.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsAuto RacingJackie Stewart Biography - Put Down Gun To Get Behind Wheel, Survived Near-fatal Crash A Champion, Chronology