It’s a very happy birthday to 1979 Formula One world drivers’ champion Jody Scheckter, who turns 67 today. He was born on this day in 1950 in East London, which is located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Scheckter moved to Britain in 1970 when still just 20 years old, and quickly found his way into Formula One. He made his Grand Prix début with McLaren in the final race of 1972 in the United States Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen, and ran five more races for the team in 1973, during which he was involved in two bad accidents that led to calls from other drivers for him to be banned from racing.
Nonetheless he graduated to a full-time seat at Tyrell the following year, and duly clinched his first two victories (at Anderstorp, Sweden and Silverstone, Great Britain) on his way to third place in that year’s championship. He would repeat that feat in 1976 and was second in the 1977 season after transfer to Walter Wolf Racing, but it wasn’t until 1979 and a move to Ferrari that he was finally able to clinch the title ahead of Gilles Villeneuve, Alan Jones and Jacques Laffite.
Competing in 1980 only to fulfil his contractual obligations, the following season was a poor swan song for Scheckter who retired from four of the first six races and ended in the points only once, so at the end of the year he confirmed his decision to retire after 113 races and 10 wins. He moved into business, first making a fortune running a security company and more recently running an organic farm in England – which is where today’s picture of the day hails from, as the birthday boy confers with one of his major stakeholders down in the paddock. Or should that be steakholder?
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