1979 champion Jody Scheckter turns 60 today!
South Africa’s sole F1 champion made his F1 debut in 1972 for McLaren, just 18 months after his arrival in the UK.
Jody’s early years in F1 were very much remembered for the massive opening-lap accident he triggered at the 1973 British GP, which eliminated half the field and forced the stoppage of the race.
He switched to Tyrrell for the 1974 season following Jackie Stewart’s retirement and stayed with them for three seasons, peaking with third in the Drivers’ Championship in the famous P34 six-wheeler, which he drove to victory at that year’s Swedish GP.
He then moved to the debutant Wolf team, amazingly winning on debut in Argentina and taking the runner’s-up position in the championship behind Niki Lauda.
In spite of much concern that he wouldn’t gel with the Italian team, Jody signed on with Ferrari for 1979 as the team’s number one driver alongside Gilles Villeneuve. He would take the championship that year, and was the last Ferrari driver to do so for 21 years until Michael Schumacher’s successive run of five straight titles from the 2000 season onwards.
Sadly for Jody, the 1980 Ferrari was a complete pig and, after failing to qualify for the season-ending Canadian GP, Jody abruptly retired from F1 altogether.
Scheckter now runs an organic farm in Hampshire, and is an advocate of organic farming and the benefits it is claimed to offer in the management of asthma, arthritis and diabetes. His newest project is to create a biodynamic sparkling wine by 2012.
We trust you’ll be opening a few bottles in celebration today, Jody!