Sir Jackie Stewart

The legendary three-time World Champion looks back on his career

Magneto magazine recently caught up with the great “Flying Scot” at Goodwood. Here’s some of what’s on his mind these days:

How does it feel to return to Goodwood, Sir Jackie?

Good! Coming to Goodwood is a pleasure; it’s always nice to be here. The Revival is beautifully done, and it’s so great to dress up for the mood of the time – and, of course, there’s the racing cars. It’s a truly unique gathering, and the Duke of Richmond does a wonderful job.

Damon Hill, Jackie Stewart and Susie Moss (seated) at the Goodwood Revival.

What are your all-time favourite Goodwood memories?

I’ve been coming here for a very long time; the first was when I was about 14, just a wee boy. I came to watch my older brother race a Jaguar C-type and he won – I still have his trophy on the wall. I also got all the drivers’ autographs: Moss, Fangio, Farina, Villoresi, Taruffi – I still have them. Goodwood was my introduction to motor sport down South. Then, of course, I went on to race here regularly when I was in Formula 1.I still have the lap record that I set in 1965. It’s funny, because that was the same lap time set by Jim Clark – but I did it first, so I got the record.

Sir Jackie behind the wheel once again at the Goodwood Revival.

Any bad memories?

No, not really. I wasn’t here when Stirling had his accident in 1962, but it was obviously well televised. I was shocked; he truly was a superstar.

Did you enjoy the Revival’s track-parade tribute to Sir Stirling?

The Duke of Richmond did a great job; it was a lovely speech. I was out on the track parade with Stirling’s son, as I’m his godfather. It was really nice to see Stirling’s wife and family driving around. I was driving behind them in Rob Walker’s Ferrari 250GT SWB. Stirling won the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in that car, and Ross Brawn bought it for £7 million – it would have been a shame if I had crashed it.I’m a huge Stirling Moss fan; I spent a lot of time dealing with his illness right until the end. He was truly a great Brit.

Jackie Stewart looking sharp off the track.

Which was the most memorable circuit you raced at?

The Nürburgring was the hardest, at 17.4 miles long and with 187 corners in one lap; I’m dyslexic, and yet I can still remember every corner of the Nürburgring. I was watching on TV when Niki Lauda had his crash in 1976, and they didn’t cover it well because the track was just so long. That made the safety impossible. You need firefighters, medical staff and marshals all around the track, and they just couldn’t do it, so now it’s closed to F1 but still going for sports cars, GT cars and so on.

What was a Monaco win like?

I won once in F3 and three times in F1. The Monaco F3 race was my first trip abroad, quite the experience. The big deal was that the first man to shake my hand was Juan Manuel Fangio – my biggest hero. In those days you got paid more for winning F3 than you did for second and third in F1 – a big day for a wee Scotsman.

Sir Jackie at Good Revival sports an outfit appropriate to the man nicknamed the "Flying Scot."

Who’s the greatest driver ever?

Jim Clark – fellow Scot – was head and shoulders above anyone, except for Fangio. Jimmy taught me a huge amount and we were good friends. Stirling, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna are all up there, but I’d put Clark and Fangio above them. I carried Fangio to his last resting place in Argentina; he was such a hero. I think nowadays it’s awkward to choose; there’s Verstappen and the Brits, but there are too many collisions that shouldn’t have happened.

Your thoughts on the Hamilton-Verstappen crash at Monza?

It was very marginal. There are other corners where you can overtake; don’t choose the corner that your rivals can use against you. Crashes will happen when you’re leaning into each other like that, but I’m not a supporter of it; you can always avoid it. You’re better off holding back; they will make a mistake and you can pass them. Don’t be part of the mistake. I never drew blood from my body driving a racing car. You’ve got to stay out of trouble; to finish first, first you have to finish.

Jackie Stewart gets ready to race.

How did your long association with Rolex begin? 

I was driving for John Mecom, who was a big Texan oil man, and he paid me some prize money for doing well in qualifying at Indianapolis. I used the money to buy a solid gold Day-Date, and then signed a deal with Rolex a year later. Such a company only wants to be associated with the very best, because it is the very best.

Do you still have your first Rolex? 

No, I lost it. Flying to the French GP, I’d left the plane and was washing my hands, and I suddenly realised my watch had gone. It was still there in the cabin. I went back and never found it. Now I have about 20 Rolexes. The one I wear most is a stainless-steel GMT Master with a black dial, but I change them all the time.

Jackie Stewart at the Goodwood Festival.

How can readers help with Race Against Dementia? 

Our charity has got all the right ingredients, but we need more money. Any contribution, no matter how modest, would be enormous. More Brits die of dementia than of any other illness. Of those born today, one in three will be diagnosed with dementia. The medical field has been working on it for over 40 years, yet there is no cure – for some reason, the brain gets left behind.