The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame is proud to induct three time Formula 1 Champion Sir Jackie Stewart as the International Category honouree for 2015.
Stewart, 76, burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 1965 with BRM and immediately impressed with his speed and race craft. He took his maiden formula 1 win at the famed Monza Circuit and ended his rookie year third overall in World Championship points behind Formula 1 legends Jim Clark and Graham Hill. After two seasons with Matra that included his maiden title in 1969, Stewart moved to Tyrrell in 1970, where he stayed for the next four years. He retired in 1973 as reigning three-time World Champion.
“My great friend, the late professor Sid Watkins (CMHF class of 2011), and I worked together with Jackie, the foremost driver advocate, addressing all aspects of motorsport safety. We welcome him back to Canada for a most fitting honour,” said Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Chairman Dr. Hugh Scully.
While famous for his racing prowess behind the wheel, many Canadians might recognize the animated Scot and his trademark tartan cap from his years of motorsport colour commentary on the US network ABC’s Wide World of Sports and later on Canadian Grand Prix broadcasts with CBC and CTV.
“I am very proud,” Stewart said. “I raced in Canada for the first time in 1967 and I had happy times there. After racing, I came to Canada with ABC for commentary in Toronto (CART) and Montreal (Formula 1) and then I worked for CBC and CTV with Brian Williams.”
Fittingly, Stewart’s former Canadian Grand Prix broadcast partner will introduce his old friend at the October gala. Stewart will become the second British driver to be named to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame since the International category was introduced, joining last year’s inductee Nigel Mansell.
In his nine Formula 1 seasons, Stewart scored a total of 27 wins, 17 poles and 43 podiums in 99 starts. Racing in Canada, Stewart scored back-to-back wins in the 1971 and 1972 Canadian Grand Prix in a Tyrrell at Motorsport International Raceway, now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). In 1971, Stewart arrived at CTMP as that year’s World Champion. He led 51 of 64 laps in a rain-and fog-shortened race. He lapped all but two cars in collecting his sixth win of 1971.
Stewart returned to CTMP in 1972, where he was faultless, winning another Canadian Grand Prix. Stewart also started from pole at CTMP in 1970 and scored points in two other Canadian races with a sixth in 1968 at Mont-Tremblant and a fifth at CTMP in 1973, which turned out to be his last start in Formula 1. Stewart withdrew from the 1973 season finale at Watkins Glen after teammate Francois Cevert died in an accident at the track.
Competing in an era where Formula 1 drivers often raced in multiple series, Stewart agreed to drive for the fledgling Carl Haas team in the 1971 Can-Am Championship.
Behind the wheel of a Lola T260, Stewart wrestled pole from the powerful McLaren Teams’s Danny Hulme and Peter Revson in his Can-Am debut at CTMP before a mechanical failure forced him to retire from the lead. Stewart won the next race at Mont-Tremblant, beating the two McLarens in a head-to-head battle and delivering Carl Haas’s maiden Can-Am victory. Tee Scotsman’s two triumphs that year helped him finish third overall in the standings behind champion Revson and runner-up Hulme.
While he was hard to beat on track, Stewart also worked tirelessly off it to improve safety for drivers and fans in an era where death was commonplace. In 11 years of racing Formula 3, Formula 2, and Formula 1, Stewart watched 57 fellow competitors perish. The cold reality of the 1960’s and 1970’s was that a driver competing in F1 for five years was more likely to die than retire.
In the first Canadian Grand Prix in 1967 at Mosport, Stewart was the only driver in the field wearing seatbelts.
While many of his fellow Formula 1 drivers criticized his efforts as detracting from the gladiator image of the sport, Stewart pushed ahead with his reforms. His work in ensuring the proper medical staff and rescue equipment were on hand at Grands Prix undoubtedly helped save many lives.