Sir John Young Stewart, Order of the British Empire (born 11 June 1939 in Milton, Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire), better known as Jackie Stewart, and nicknamed The Flying Scot, is a three-time Scottish Formula One racing champion. He is well-known in the United States as a commentator of racing television broadcasts where his Scottish English accent made him a distinctive presence.
Jackie's early involvement with cars was in the family business, Dumbuck Garage, in Milton, where he worked as an apprentice mechanic. His family were Jaguar dealers and had built up a successful practice. Jackie's father had been a motorcycle racer, and Jackie's brother Jimmy was a racing driver with a growing local reputation. He drove for Ecurie Ecosse and competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix, until he went off at Copse Corner in the wet. It was only natural that Jackie would soon become involved in motor racing like his older brother.
After his brother was injured in a crash at Le Mans the sport was discouraged by their parents and Jackie took up shooting. In target shooting Stewart made a name for himself and almost made it to the Olympics only just missing the team for 1960.
But 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. Stewart impressed all who were in attendance that day. Ken Tyrrell who was running the Formula Junior team for Cooper Car Company heard of this young Scotsman from a track manager and called up Jimmy Stewart to see if his younger brother was interested in a tryout. Jackie came down for the test and took over a car that Bruce McLaren was testing. McLaren at that time was already an experienced Formula One driver and the new Cooper F3 was a very competitive car in its class. Soon Stewart was besting McLaren's times, causing McLaren to return to the track for some quicker laps. Again, Stewart was faster 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. But this was 1963 and Stewart still had a lot to learn.
In 1964 he drove in Formula Three for Ken Tyrrell and won his first race at Snetterton. Since Tyrrell did not compete in Formula One at that time, he joined BRM alongside Graham Hill in 1965. His first contract netted him £4,000. On his debut in South Africa he scored his first Championship point. Before the end of the year he won his first race at Monza. 1966 saw him almost win the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt only to be denied by a broken scavenge pump while leading by over a lap with eight laps to go.
Also, in 1966, a crash triggered his fight for improved safety in racing. In lap one of the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, when sudden rain caused many crashes, he found himself trapped in his BRM, getting soaked by leaking fuel. Any spark could cause a disaster. The marshals had no tools to help him, and it took his team mate Graham Hill to get him out. Since then, a main switch for electrics and a removeable steering wheel became standard. Also, noticing the long and slow transport to a hospital, he brought his own doctor to future races, while the BRM team supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all.
In Formula One, he switched to Ken Ken Tyrrell's team where he drove Matra chassis during the 1968 and 1969 seasons. His winning drive during the rain and fog of the 1968 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, where he won by a margin of four minutes, is considered as one of the finest ever, even though his rain tires were probably better than the ones of the competition.
Stewart became world champion in 1969 driving a Cosworth-powered Matra MS80. Up until September 2005 when Fernando Alonso in a Renault F1 became champion, he was the only driver to have won the championship driving a French car. For the 1970 season, Matra insisted on using their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworth engines as well as the good connection to Ford. As a consequence, the Tyrrell team bought a chassis from March Engineering, which Stewart drove with mixed success until Tyrrell built its own car later in the season. They were still sponsored by french Elf Aquitaine fuel company, and Stewart raced in a car painted in French Racing Blue for many years.
Stewart went on to win the Formula One world championship in 1971 and 1973 with Tyrrell cars. In the 1972 season he missed races due to Gastriti which was developed following frequent travelling, as Stewart also competed in the Can Am series with a Lola, and a Ford Capri in the touring car Group 2 European championship, with his F1 teamate François Cevert and other F1 pilots, at a time where the competition between Ford and BMW was at a climax.
His last and then record-setting 27th GP victory, came at the 1973 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring with a convincing 1-2 for Tyrrell. 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 skipped what would have been his 100th GP.
Consultant, commentator and team owner
Subsequently he became a consultant for the Ford Motor Company while continuing to be a spokesman for safer cars and circuits in Formula One.
In 1997 Stewart returned to Formula One, with Stewart Grand Prix, as a team owner in partnership with his son, Paul, and the Ford Motor Company. The team was later bought by Ford and became Jaguar Racing in 2000.
Stewart received Sports Illustrated magazine's 1973 "Sportsman of the Year" award, and in the same year also won BBC Television's "Sports Personality Of The Year" award. In 1990, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. More recently, Robbie Williams honored him in his song Supreme. Stewart received a knighthood and became a founding patron of the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, both in 2001.
In 2003 The World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities presented Sir Jackie Stewart the Sport Shooting Ambassador Award. The Award goes to an outstanding individual whose efforts have promoted the shooting sports internationally. It was presented by British Member of Parliament Kate Hoey, who spoke of the three major benefits of shooting – discipline, enjoyment and economic stimulus.
- Formula One World Champion 1969 Matra
- Formula One World Champion 1971 Tyrrell
- Formula One World Champion 1973 Tyrrell
- International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Jackie Stewart
- Grand Prix History - Hall of Fame, Jackie Stewart
- The Scotsman newspaper, Heritage and Culture, 'I risked my mother's wrath in order to be a driver'
- The Herald newspaper (Glasgow), 'Sir Jackie, was not diagnosed with dyslexia until he was 42'