Jimmy Stewart: Racing driver brother of Jackie
Tuesday 08 January 2008
James Robert Stewart, racing driver: born Dumbarton 6 March 1931; married (one son, one daughter); died Glasgow 3 January 2008.
When Sir Jackie Stewart was on the cusp of his remarkable career in motor racing, in the early 1960s, many impressed spectators within the sport would ask one question after watching him in action: "Who's the new boy?" In those formative days, the answer was usually: "It's Jimmy Stewart's younger brother."
Back then it was James Robert Stewart "JRS" who was the family's racing hero, taking up the sport thanks to genes inherited from his father Robert, a former Isle of Man motorcycle racer and the owner of a Jaguar dealership in Dumbuck, Dunbartonshire, and his mother Jean, who loved fast cars.
Jimmy Stewart's career began in a Healey Silverstone in local hillclimb events in 1951, and soon he had done well enough to attract the attention of the Edinburgh-based businessman and racing driver David Murray, who owned the Ecurie Ecosse team. Before long Stewart was racing their metallic blue Jaguar C-Types. His performances there led to opportunities in single-seaters, with a Formula Two Connaught and finally a Formula One Cooper-Bristol.
Stewart made his grand prix dbut with the latter, in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1953, having driven the car previously in several non-championship races. He qualified 15th out of 29 but climbed impressively to sixth place before spinning off the road with 11 of the 90 laps remaining. Subsequently he raced for Aston Martin in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1954 but a serious crash saw him thrown from the DB3S coup and sustain a badly broken arm. When he injured the same arm again in 1955 following a crash driving for Ecurie Ecosse in the Nrburgring 1000km sportscar race, he decided it was time to retire.
From then on he encouraged his younger brother as he moved up the ranks; when the team boss Ken Tyrrell called him to ask whether Jackie was serious about his racing, prior to a Formula Three test at Goodwood that effectively launched the younger Stewart's single-seater career, Jimmy replied: "Serious? Try stopping him!"
Jimmy Stewart moved to America on his retirement, and subsequently suffered from alcoholism. Later, Jackie would speak movingly of his brother's determination to beat the addiction, which he did successfully in 1999 after Jackie had helped him to attend the Priory Clinic in Glasgow.
Immensely proud of the elder brother who had nurtured his own interest in the sport in which he would become so famous and in which he remains a beacon of integrity, Jackie Stewart said in his recent autobiography, "What do I owe Jim? I owe him almost everything because when I was a youngster struggling at school [with dyslexia], the world seemed an extremely dark place. I . . . found my real salvation in motor racing, and I found it because, in my difficult time of need and confusion, it was my elder brother who carried the torch and selflessly showed me the way. It was almost as if Jim was beckoning me to join him on a magic carpet ride, carrying me out of the wilderness at school into the exciting, glamorous, colourful world of motor racing."
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