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.
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.
- Jackie Stewart - Awards And Accomplishments
- Jackie Stewart - Went Out On Top
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