The real heroes of racing

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Guest column
Jackie Stewart

I have long believed that Grand Prix mechanics are the only real professionals in the sport. If you think about it, most of their lives have been dedicated to the sport and you cannot say that about the drivers, nor most of the team owners. Mechanics are the real pros.

The concept behind the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust [of which JYS is chairman] is to help these pros as they grow older, sometimes because of illness and sometimes because there is hardship within their families.

The Trust now has counsellors working with it to help mechanics find ways of getting things done that otherwise they might not have known existed, or were available to them.

You have to remember that most of these mechanics were not very well paid and the hours they worked were simply colossal. Now there are regulations preventing them from working on the cars all night whereas in my day they did more all-nighters than you can imagine. But it’s a better world for them as a result of the new rules – in the old days they lived through a time when motor racing was very tough.

Without my mechanics, the guys who looked after me, I wouldn’t be here today. The standard and level of their preparation was down to the people who prepared the cars for me to race.

I’ve always thought that the top mechanics were better at what they did than I was at what I did. That was certainly true of my mechanics at Tyrrell. They were artists. Of course the drivers get all the glory but these people are so skilled. The reason that I won races was because I finished them – and I had such good reliability because of impeccable attention to detail. You had such confidence in the preparation of the car, that every element was being so carefully looked after. This is as true today as it was back in the 1960s and ’70s when I was racing. You must remember that in racing anything can go wrong and, when there is a mechanical failure, the driver is no longer in control. Again, it’s the same today as it was back then, you’re talking about the same breed of man. Mechanics all have the same spirit, the same mentality, no matter which era.

The work of the Trust will become more expensive in the long term because in the old days you only had maybe six, or seven, mechanics working on a car. Now there are at least 40 travelling with a team, meaning the numbers of people for us to sustain and support in times of difficulty will only increase over the years.

Mechanics are still the unsung heroes of our sport. Yes, we do see a lot more of them on television, in photographs and in magazines but when the Trust was established I don’t think they had any proper recognition at all. But they all did an absolutely wonderful job, and I’m extremely happy to say that’s still the case.

When Ken Tyrrell and I created the Trust it was to make provision for some of the most skilled, trustworthy and dedicated people in our business, people whose names and faces were unknown to the public but who supported drivers like me and team owners like Ken. And remember, these are people who often worked well beyond the call of duty. These guys were, and still are, the true professionals in Grand Prix racing.

The Trust was created in February 1987 – when I was campaigning for higher standards of safety in the sport. We recognised the potential dangers of working in the pitlane and we were aware that a great many mechanics did not have the benefit of insurance, pensions or sound financial backing in the event of a crippling or fatal accident resulting in hardship for them and their families. I had tremendous support from Ken Tyrrell and that’s how it all began. Now, our trustees include some well known motor racing people such as Professor Sid Watkins, Martin Brundle, Patrick Head, Norbert Haug and Jo Ramirez, who, of course, started his career as a mechanic.

The Trust does not only help those in trouble or hardship. For example, Cranfield University runs a Masters degree in Motor Sport Engineering and Management. Since the government grant money available to students was stopped the university saw a sharp drop in the quality and the quantity of applicants for the course. Patrick Head recognised this could have a detrimental effect on the calibre of engineers joining the industry so he raised his concern with our trustees. We now offer a bursary to selected applicants who would otherwise not be able to afford the course. The applicants are proposed and vetted by the course director and in the last two years we have awarded four bursaries, with a value of £15,000, to support young engineers.

We now have more than 160 mechanics on our register and every year we hold a reunion, the most recent being our 20th anniversary party at Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands – a wonderful gathering, so many great stories being told.

The funds we have mean that we can continue to provide support for the foreseeable future. The type of help may vary, and the risks they face may differ over time, but the Trust intends to help former, and current, Grand Prix mechanics for years to come.

Related articles

Related products