Saturday, February 15, 2014

25 Days of Harrison Day 13- Jackie Stewart and Racing

"The years I raced in were fantastic. There was so much change in the cars. We went from treaded tyres to no wings right through the slicks to enormous wings."- Jackie Stewart 

Jackie Stewart was born into a car and racing family on 11 June, 1939 in Milton, Dumbartonshire, Scotland. His family were owners of Dumbuck Garage, where Jackie would learn to be a mechanic. His parents were also Jaguar dealers and Jackie had driven his first car at age nine (driving his dads Austin 16, sitting on two gas cans just so he could see over the dashboard). School was a challenge for Jackie, suffering from Dyslexia. 
"'All right,' I told myself, 'you may not be the brightest boy in the school, but you know as much about cars as any of your friends. You may have to work a bit harder, do things in a slightly different way. You may have to pay extra attention to detail, but you can do it.'"- Jackie Stewart
When he was thirteen he says that his life turned around, changing his life when he took part in a local clay pigeon shooting competition where he says that shooting taught him how to deal with pressure and taught him how to take wins and loses, to present himself. His shooting career stopped one his 21st birthday when he wasn't selected to the 1960s Olympic target shooting team. After this he thought he would just be working in his family's garage for the rest of his life.

His brother, Jimmy, was the first racer. He became known locally, racing in the Ecurie Ecross and competing in British Grand Pix 1953. His career came to a halt during a race at Le Mans where he was injured and his parents began to disprove of the sport. 

"...she declared: 'There's been one racing driver in this family, and that's more than enough.' So I didn't ask her. Instead, I entered races under the name of A.N. Other."

Jackie had taken up the sport after his big brother. He'd continue using a different name and entered races without his parents knowing. A.N Other soon was found to be Jackie after he married Helen McGregor, where their picture was printed in the paper and the photo caption referring to Jackie as a 'young racing driver'.

A client at his family's garage, Barry Filer, had offered him a job to test cars at Oulten Park. Jackie went down to test the cars where he saw Bruce McLaren, an already experienced Formula One racer, with his F3 Cooper. Jackie had tested the car beating McLaren's time which lead to McLaren racing again; Jackie was proven to be faster. This is when Ken Tyrell came into Jackie's life. Ken was running a Formula Junior Team and had heard about Jackie. Jackie was offered a spot on the team in 1963. 

In 1964 Jackie had gotten his first first place spot in Snetterton driving an F3 Cooper. The following year, Jackie left Tyrell due to the fact that Tyrell wasn't into Formula One racing. He joined Graham Hill at BRM, signing a contract with a £4,000 net. With Hill, Stewart won the Monza race and in 1966 almost won the Indianapolis 500, but his car suffered from a broken scavenge pump with eight laps to go. It was in Spa that Jackie had suffered from serious injuries. The course were in bad condition due to a downpour leaving Jackie to crash and go into a ditch. Hill remembers it as,
"I spun round like a top myself. When I came to a stop at the side of the road I saw Jackie's BRM in the ditch. He was in considerable pain, trapped by the side of the car, which had been pushed in. The petrol tanks had ruptured and he was covered with petrol. There was a big risk of fire and I turned off the fuel pump switches and then tried to lift him out. The steering wheel was jammed up against his leg and it was obvious that this would have to be removed before I could get him out."  
Jackie remembers it saying he was trapped in the car for twenty-five minutes and when he finally got out he was put in the back of a van until an ambulance showed up, during this time there were no medical facilities at the course. When an ambulance finally came it had a police escort, the police escort lost the ambulance leaving the ambulance lost. Jackie said that he wasn't seriously injured but some reports show that he still suffers from this accident today. This lead to a campaign for safety and medical facilities.
"We were racing at circuits where there were no crash barriers in front of the pits, and fuel was lying about in churns in the pit lane. A car could easily crash into the pits at any time. It was ridiculous."- Jackie Stewart

Ken Tyrell had then moved up to Formula One racing where Jackie would join him again. In 1969 Jackie won his first World Championship, driving a matra-ford. The following year lead to complications with stomach ulcers, having Stewart not competing in some races. 

Jackie retired in 1973 after winning three World Champion Ships and twenty-seven Grand Pix races (which he held as record for twenty years)! 
"From today I am no longer a racing driver. I'm retired and I am very happy."- Jackie Stewart
The Following Video is Jackie Stewart 1973

"I don't know why I got into it but It was long ago..." -George Harrison
George Harrison

As a kid George was a fan of BRM (British Racing Motor), even sending letters for photographs. In the teenage years George had lost interest in racing when he picked up the guitar. In the 1960s George says he was still conscious about what was going on and who the World Champion was, and especially knew about Jackie Stewart. In 1966 George was in Monte Carlo and attended the opening day of the Monaco Grand Pix, where Jackie had won.

"I first met George Harrison when The Beatles turned up at the Monaco Grand Pix in 1969"-Jackie Stewart 
It was in 1977 that George got heavily into racing, traveling to Monte Carlo for races. One day he went down to Long Beach, California and bought tickets to a race, where he met up with Jackie. The two would become extremely close throughout the years, Jackie saying it was an 'opposites attract'  friendship.

"Now as to motor racing in relation to me and my other interests. I know that racing is to a lot of people, dopey, maybe from a spiritual point of view. Motor cars - polluters, killers, maimers, noisemakers. Good racing, though, involves heightened awareness for the competitors. Those drivers have to be so together in their concentration and the handful of them who are the best have had some sort of expansion of their consciousness. In relation to musicians and music, the variants motor-racing people work with are difficult. everything is such a compromise. There are so many different things they are able to do with the basic chassis of the car that it is quite the hardest job in the world for any one of them to try to have the advantage over somebody else. Yet they can."-George Harrison 
George even wrote "Faster" a song released on his 1979 album, George Harrison. The song was written about Jackie Stewart and other racers. It was dedicated to "the Entire Formula One Circus" and in memory of Ronnie Peterson. He released a single in July of 1979 to assist the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Fund, a foundation started after Gunnar Nilsson passed away from cancer in 1978. The Following Video is "Faster"

Jackie says so much great things about George Harrison, that he would be staying with Helen, Jackie, and their son, Paul, in Switzerland and George just taking a guitar playing all Beatles songs and explaining the lyrics.
"I remember sitting there, thinking this had to be one of the greatest privileges anybody could have." Jackie Stewart
 "George had a great soul. His instinct was to forgive rather than to condemn and, when people behaved badly, he would make excuses for them. I learnt so much from him."- Jackie Stewart
He remembers having great visits at Friar Park with the canal's and gardens. George also says great things about Jackie, saying that on their meeting it's like meeting one of the greats. That if you have to meet anybody you want to meet the best, and if he had to meet a racer he met Jackie Stewart, the best. It was a real privilege and he was goes on to say in his autobiography I Me Mine how lucky he was to have met him and all 'the greats' throughout his life.

The following video is of Jackie Stewart and George Harrison

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