Sir Jackie Stewart

Sir Jackie Stewart

There are few who reach the top at their chosen sport - Sir Jackie Stewart is of an even rarer breed, he made it to the top in two sports. And, as Mike Barnes discovered, he has given much back to his sports.

Sir Jackie Stewart OBE is a name synonymous with motor racing. As a three-times Formula 1 World Champion he was simply the best. Here was a man who not only won,  he did it in style and being a Scotsman, he was a fine ambassador for Britain at race tracks around the world at a time when British fashion and music were everywhere.  He was indeed a man for the times.

Since retirement he has done more than anyone to make Formula 1 safer and better. He has also been as successful in business as he was in sport, and run his own F1 team, Stewart Grand Prix, with his son Paul, and for Jaguar. He has enjoyed long term contracts with both Ford and Bridgestone, helping both develop their products and is still contracted after many years to Rolex and Moet. Jackie has also been instrumental in helping secure the F1 future of Silverstone, one of the world's most famous race tracks. Now 67, bristling with energy and enthusiasm, he currently helps the Royal Bank of Scotland with their F1 involvement - they are sponsors of the Williams team.

But his other big passion in life is, and always has been, shooting, both game and clays. In fact he readily admits that it was shooting which made everything else possible.

"I was hopeless at school. I didn't know it then, but I later learned that I was very dyslexic - so bottom of the class was normal.

"However as the grandson of a gamekeeper I was always close to shooting and fishing, and was introduced to a shotgun at 14 years of age when my father rolled a turnip down a hill for me to shoot at. I caught on quite quickly, and we thereafter practiced with clays from a hand trap. Then on New Year's Day they took me to a local clay pigeon shoot (my first) - amazingly I collected a magnificent trophy as the main prize."

From thereon he travelled around Scotland for competitions. "There were some wonderful men who took me to shoots and eventually I was selected for the Scottish team. In clay shooting I had found something which I was good at - it gave me belief and confidence."

He left school at 15. Working in his father's garage and travelling far and wide he built quite a reputation. He then started to shoot south of the border in England, and met the Jones family, particularly Glynne and his two sons Allan and Noel. "Glynne was like a father to me - he taught me how to win and how to lose. He was a wonderful man with a very successful business and took me under his wing and taught me a lot about life. Looking back I sincerely believe that my shooting days had a tremendous effect on what was to happen later in my life with regard to motor racing. And that was why when I retired from motor racing I was determined to put something back."

His shooting career saw him win any number of major championships in all forms of trap shooting in the UK. He qualified for the British team and shot abroad for the first time in Paris in the European Championship. "The following year (with team-mate and best friend Allan Jones) I shot at Monza against other European nations including a top Italian team comprising Liano Rossini, Franco Piatti, Gig Rossi, Carlo Delventisette and Matarelli."

He had his first look at the famous autodrome, and Carlo drove him round the track in an Alfa. "I made many good friends."

On Jackie's 21st birthday he shot the final qualifying competition for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. It was a formality but incredibly he shot his worst round of the year and missed qualification by one target. He insists that to this day it was the biggest disappointment in his sporting life, worse than anything experienced in motor racing, including losing the Belgian Grand Prix when he ran out of petrol.

In 1962 he married Helen and put a halt to his shooting career. Within a year he was motor racing, for a local racing car owner. By 1964 he competed in 53 events in 26 different cars. His extensive driving to all corners of the UK for clay shooting was paying off! The progress was rapid and by the end of 1964 he was in Formula One. And the following year he won his first Grand Prix in where else but Monza - and all of his old Italian shooting pals came along to see him.

And it was again at Monza that he clinched his first World Championship in 1969. "The following year I first met Ugo Gussalli Beretta (now president of Beretta), who presented me with the most beautiful pair of Beretta SOs EELL which I have shot ever since. He has since become a good friend, and for some years now I have shot with a beautiful pair of Beretta SO 20 bores, which I love.

"I no longer shoot clays competitively, as I am too busy, but in the winter I very much enjoy game shooting with long-standing friends. There is so much to shooting - being in the countryside amongst wonderful, genuine country people. We are very fortunate in Britain - I have shot in many countries but we have so much good sport and wonderful countryside. The sport is also tremendous for rural economies and the preservation of habitats." His shooting pals include Lord Stafford, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Fred Goodwin,  former F1 driver Martin Brundle and Captain Mark Phillips, whose daughter Zara, the World and European Eventing Champion, is Helen's god-daughter.

The payback of his debt to clay shooting began with the Rolex Celebrity Challenge and then the opening of the Shooting School at Gleneagles, which quickly became the world's busiest. Jackie does things well, correctly and with style - he puts everything in place for success.

The link with Rolex, who sponsored his charity clay pigeon shoots, came in 1968 when they signed him under contract along with legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and triple Olympic gold medallist Alpine skier Jean-Claude Keilly. The only three contracted sportsmen to the famous company.

"There was an obvious link. Rolex is a name which has dignity, style, tradition, history - it's a brand that is so well protected. I like to think that like motor racing and shooting, it is also classless. So the association was natural - it worked for both parties. When I suggested involvement,  Andre Heiniger didn't hesitate - his son Patrick is now running the company and is also excellent to work with."

The shoots started in a modest way at the Jones family shooting ground near Chester, before moving to Gleneagles for the star studded extravaganza, with no fewer than 48 celebrities from around the world. There were 11 royals. Everyone from Sean Connery to Steven Speilberg, BA Chairman Lord King to King Hussein, Cheryl Ladd to Jenny Seagrove, tennis legends Stan Smith and Rod Laver, Princes Andrew and Edward, and not forgetting the Royal gamekeepers.

It was amazing, the logistics and security alone were extraordinary. But the single day raised £650,000 ($1million) for charity.

"There were many stories from behind the scenes" said Jackie "but I have to say it was a very happy occasion. Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford were able to meet King Hussein and personally ask for permission to film in the Petra cutting into the Palace of Kings, for an important scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which up until that point had been impossible. His Highness was delighted to say yes.

"And there was no problem with pecking order and egos. Accommodation might have been a problem but the Royals were obviously given the best suites, and the gamekeepers in rooms on the floor immediately above them - everyone else just fell into place! It really was that simple.

"It also gave me huge pleasure as it brought my beloved sport into millions of homes around the world.  Through television, people everywhere could see just how much anyone can enjoy shooting."

On Jackie's 21st birthday he shot the final qualifying competition for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Incredibly he shot his worst round of the year and missed qualification by one target.He insists that to this day it was the biggest disappointment in his sporting life.

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