Jackie Oliver

Full Name:
Keith Jack Oliver
Born:
14th August 1942 (Age 76)
Chadwell Heath, London
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Motor racing has been Jackie Oliver’s life for half a century as racing driver, team owner and board member of the British Racing Drivers' Club. He started racing a Mini in 1961 before dabbling in club sports cars and saloons.

Grand Prix debut with Lotus

Oliver turned professional in 1966 when racing a Brabham in Formula 3. Initial success was rewarded with a works Lotus contract and he won the Formula 2 class at the 1967 German Grand Prix on his debut in the world championship. Fifth on the road that day, he evidently impressed Colin Chapman. When Jim Clark was killed in April 1968, Oliver was retained as his replacement.

Team-mate Graham Hill won the world championship in the most difficult of campaigns and Oliver completed the year by finishing third in the Mexican GP. His most competitive performance, however, came at Brands Hatch when Oliver qualified second and led the British GP until his engine failed.

BRM frustration and sports car success

However, Chapman saw more potential in Jochen Rindt as his next star and Oliver moved to BRM for 1969 and 1970. An unhappy Formula 1 period was softened by sports car success with John Wyer’s works-backed Ford GT40. Jacky Ickx's co-driver for the 1969 International Championship of Makes, Oliver won the Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours. His F1 fortunes were less favourable with fifth in the 1970 Austrian GP the only score of another season blighted by poor reliability and a fiery accident with Ickx at Járama.

Unlucky to be released by BRM and without an F1 ride at the start of 1971 – Oliver won at Daytona, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps with Pedro Rodríguez and Wyer’s Porsche 917K sports car. However, he endured the team’s displeasure by accepting a contract to race for Shadow in Can-Am that year. He also started three GPs in a third McLaren-Ford during 1971 – finishing seventh in Italy.

Team management and swansong as a driver

That Shadow drive was a nod to the future for Oliver later became a member of the team’s management as the UOP-backed concern launched its F1 team in 1973. He remained a driver but it was a season of mechanical failure and frustration before he finished third in the wet Canadian GP after others fell by the wayside.

1974 Can-Am Champion for the marque, Oliver made one final F1 appearance at the 1977 Swedish GP before retiring after 50 GP starts. By now he was involved in a new, secret venture. He was foremost in the breakaway Arrows team in 1978 (he was the ‘O’ in its name) and Riccardo Patrese led its second race. It proved to be a false dawn for Arrows and the marque would eventually disappear from F1 without winning a race some 24 years later.

Oliver sold the company to Tom Walkinshaw in 1996 and he eventually severed his ties with the team three years later. He remains an active member of the BRDC.

Championship seasons