Scottish quote of the week: Sir Jackie Stewart

“I would have been a much more popular World Champion if I had always said what people wanted to hear. I might have been dead, but definitely more popular.”
Sir Jackie Stewart. Picture: Getty ImagesSir Jackie Stewart. Picture: Getty Images
Sir Jackie Stewart. Picture: Getty Images

Sir Jackie Stewart, who won three world titles in Formula One during his career until retiring in 1973, had long since established himself as one of Britain’s greatest ever racing drivers, but the quote above refers to his tireless campaigning for safety in motor racing, spurred on by a potentially life-threatening crash he suffered at Spa-Francorchamps in 1966.

Race organisers faced the threat of boycotts, orchestrated by Stewart, as calls grew for the installation of a raft of safety features such as seatbelts, full-face helmets and barriers, as well as the provision of stand-by emergency crews and medical teams.

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He faced opposition from nearly all quarters - the press, racing teams and even rival drivers criticised Stewart, who remained adamant that he was in the right despite grumblings that he was being precious.

Of his outspoken attitude to racing safety, he said: “If I have any legacy to leave the sport I hope it will be seen to be an area of safety because when I arrived in Grand Prix, racing so-called precautions and safety measures were diabolical.”

He added that, during his career, Formula One drivers had a “very likely” chance of dying - he lost 57 friends and colleagues to the sport.