Grand Prix Gold: Great Britain 1969


Much like the ambassador at his receptions, I too like to spoil you.

So, make yourself comfortable and indulge in some awesome retro racing footage that I happened to stumble upon while idly flitting around YouTube.

A fortnight after his trendsetting champagne-spraying antics in the French Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart was back on home soil for the sixth round of the 1969 Formula One season.

With four wins already under his belt Stewart headed to Silverstone in a confident mood, but any hint of complacency was erased during the Saturday practice session before the British Grand Prix.

The Scot was driving behind Piers Courage when, on the entry to Woodcote Corner, a small rectangular kerbstone that was once cemented to the track took flight and hit Stewart’s right rear tyre at 150mph.

The tyre exploded upon impact and Stewart’s Matra went out of control, piercing through three rows of chain-link fencing, before coming to halt against a grass bank fronted by railway sleepers.

Thankfully, Stewart suffered no injuries and was met with much applause from the main grandstand nearby as he stepped out of his now ruined car.

It was nigh on impossible to repair the vehicle in time for the race, and so, Matra team boss Ken Tyrrell decided that Stewart would command Jean-Pierre Beltoise’s car, leaving the Frenchman to struggle with the four-wheel-drive Matra MS84.

The actual race was notable for a fantastic duel between Stewart and Jochen Rindt, in which the lead changed more than thirty times. Rindt’s challenge came to an end, however, when his rear wing endplates came loose, forcing him to pit and lose 30 seconds.

He later ran out of fuel towards the end of the race and was forced to pit once again, dropping him back to fourth and allowing Stewart to move clear and win his first British Grand Prix.

His victory was all the more remarkable as it emerged he had driven most of the race without a clutch. “There was nothing to it but to go on changing gear by judging the engine revs precisely,” he said. “It wasn’t always quite right. On the 15th lap I missed a gear and Rindt charged past me into the lead.”

Stewart’s day was made all the more special for his father had made the trip from Dumbuck, Scotland, to see him win. The pride and joy was clear to see on his face as he celebrated what was an emphatic victory.

Leave a Reply