Ian Scheckter

Born:
22nd August 1947 (Age 72)
East London, Eastern Cape
Nationality:
South African
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

While Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve secured a famous world championship victory for Ferrari at Monza in 1979 their respective brothers (Ian and Jacques senior) were competing in Formula Atlantic with some success on their respective continents. Both were talented and multiple champions in their own right but they were overshadowed by their respective kin.

Family background and early racing career

Ian Scheckter is the elder brother but it was Jody who raced in Europe first. Ian briefly followed him in 1972 after winning the South African Driver to Europe scholarship and national Formula Ford title. Scheckter soon returned home to star in the final years of the South African Formula 1 Championship. A race winner, he never wrestled the title from Dave Charlton.

Formula 1 at home and abroad

He entered the South African Grand Prix from 1974 to 1976 with his regular ex-works Lotus 72-Ford and later Tyrrell 007. 1975 also included starts in the Swedish and Dutch GPs for Frank Williams.

The South African Championship switched to Formula Atlantic rules in 1976 and Scheckter finally defeated Charlton to win the first of six national titles. Despite showing little real promise during his five F1 starts thus far, Scheckter joined the March GP team in 1977 with backing from Rothmans.

It proved to be a disastrous association with the March 761B-Ford not competitive and the new 771 little better. He retired from all-but two races and was refused a visa to enter Japan for the last race of the year on political grounds. That spelled the end to his season and GP career.

Subsequent career

March withdrew from F1 and Scheckter returned home to dominate national Formula Atlantic into the 1980s. He subsequently drove a BMW 535i in the South African Touring Car Championship before retiring from racing in February 1989 following a tragic modified saloon car race at Killarney. Scheckter’s Ford Sapphire collided with another car on the opening lap and they crashed into the pitlane with a photographer and crew member killed.

He later sold the family garage and motorcycle business to help fund his son Jaki’s fledgling racing career in the 1990s – racing in Indy Lights, Formula Opel Euroseries and winning the 1995 Barber Dodge Pro-Series.