During the 2019 Goodwood Revival, I was able to talk to Sir Jackie Stewart exclusively in the Rolex
Drivers Club - here is, what he had to say:
TSS: Sir Jackie, you use the same helmet design since the early days of
your career. I would like to know, who had the idea, and how has the
design been applied to your helmet -was it painted?
JS: No, not in the beginning. It started off with an idea I had. I only did
about two events in my first year as a driver and I used a white helmet.
But I thought that I needed an identification. As I am Scottish, I wanted
to have something to represent my country. So my wife and I went out
and bought a piece of silk, a tartan. We put on sticky tape to the helmet
and we literally glued it to the helmet. Then we glassed it over with some
sort of clear coat. But this only lasted a short time, and we knew we
need to have it painted.
TSS: When did the painting start?
JS: That must have been early in 1964. In 1963 when I was driving for Ecurie Ecosse, I still used the silk, but
when I started in Formula 3 in 1964, I had already a painted helmet. The same guy who did it back then, still
paints all my helmets to this day! His name is Doug Err, he lives here in the Goodwood area. He doesn`t do it
for others anymore, but he still does mine!
TSS: I would like to talk about your role with young drivers as a teacher and mentor. Normally, racing drivers
have big egos and are selfish, always concentrating on themselves. But you never seem to have problems to
pass your knowledge to your teammates, right?
JS: No, none at all! I gave everything to them - as did Graham Hill to me when I started in F1 at BRM. He never
held anything back to me, I learned so much from him. Though Graham was more a mechanical driver than I
was. He was very disciplined, my style was more towards Jim Clarks` as I think he was the best for me to study
under. He was by far the smoothest driver, that`s what I learned from him. And that`s what I wanted to pass to
Francois Cevert and later Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter. Francois for example was like a sponge, he really
wanted to know everything. In the beginning he wasn`t that fast, but I took him round the tracks, driving
behind me. I started slowly and each lap I would get a little bit quicker to build up speed. He knew all my gear
ratios, he knew all my braking distances. He was a good listener, and he really wanted to know everything - and
I gave him everything, really everything. In the end he was a very good and smooth driver. He would have been
a world champion for sure.
TSS: You also have been very much involved in mentoring the drivers of Paul Stewart racing.
JS: Yes, very much so. In the beginning it was one car and one driver. Then we had two cars and two drivers, to
be more economic. It just grew. Then we said, we got to have the best young drivers, apart from Paul. We had
people like David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya. They
were all young puppies, but actually all good listeners. For driving, we took them to Oulton Park, which I think
is still one of the best circuits in this country. It`s got no long straights but a lot of different speed corners. We
had a Ford world rally championship car and I sat with them, radio helmets on and we went round and round
and I showed them the lines etc. But I not only gave advice in driving, I also sent them to speaking courses, I
wanted them to be able to talk to their sponsors and I dressed them all at the same tailor as I go in London. I
wanted them to have authority and confidence.
TSS: Did you like testing? Working for days on a car to make it faster, fine-tuning it?
JS: Yes, absolutely! For example we used to go to South Africa in the winter for three weeks usually. I would do
a minimum of two Grand Prix`s a day, testing tires or chassis. I did all the testing for Good Year there for days
TSS: After your first world championship in 1970, you had a rather mediocre season in 1970, when you were
using a March chassis, which was not really state of the art. When Ken Tyrrell decided to build his own car,
were you convinced that the car would be an immediate success, keeping in mind it was the Tyrrell teams` very
first car at all?
JS: I had total confidence in Ken Tyrrell and Derek Gardner, in Ken even more than Derek. Derek was a sort of a
manual magician, a highly technology man, not a humans relation man. But he knew what he was doing and
produced good cars. And of course, we had the Cosworth engine which was so reliable. Cosworth was an
amazing company, nobody had a faster and more reliable engine. Never ever did I believe that I had a weaker
engine than anybody.
TSS: Now back to the present. You are a regular competitor at Goodwood. What is so special about the events
JS: First of all it is the Duke of Richmond and Gordon! What he created is so special and unique in the world.
The attention to detail is extraordinary and the popularity of the Revival – and the Festival of Speed and the
Members Meeting - shows that he is doing everything right.
TSS: Here at the Revival, you make a journey back in time and
you will drive, amongst others, your Cooper Formula three car
JS: Yes, that`s right. It is in wonderful condition and we will sell it
after the event to raise funds for “Race against Dementia”.
TSS: Jackie, thank you for your time and enjoy the weekend!
photos courtesy of eventspr.co.uk and TSS