What they are ?

There is no doubt that there is a special case in F1, the South African Jody SCHECKTER who in 1979 went down in history as the only F1 driver from Southern Africa to win the title of World Champion and more than one car from the most legendary that stable in the history of the leading category, the Scuderia FERRARI.

Quiet in private but sometimes passionate on the track, this South African of Lithuanian descent, born in East London, a coastal town on the edge of the Indian Ocean on January 29, 1950, was truly passionate about mechanics and grease from his early childhood with a father who owned a Renault dealership.

From the age of 18, he quickly asserted his driving skills behind anything with wheels and after proving in Formula Ford that he had no competition in South Africa, he arrived in England at the age of 21, to start a an international career.

Jody 1st winner driving the 6-wheel TYRRELL – Photo: Publiracing Agency

Quickly regarded by his colleagues as a “mad dog”, he rose through the ranks until he found the wheel in the main category in 1972 in an official Yardley-McLaren M19, at the age of 22, in time for an F1 driver, life expectancy hardly exceeds that of Roman gladiators!

After two years spent with different fortunes within the Mc LAREN team, where he competed in six GPs and at the source of a monster crash that took out ten cars at the start of the British Grand Prix ​​in 1973, the pilot was found with curly hair. shelter with TYRRELL for three seasons, during which he would offer four victories to Ken TYRRELL, the lumber merchant from Ockham, including a symbolic victory in 1976 at the Swedish Grand Prix in the famous single-seater TYRRELL P34… on six wheels called ” centipedes” and which will go down in the records of F1, as a great first!

    Jody drives WOLF in 1977 – Photo: Publiracing Agency

Subsequently, attracted by the Austro-Canadian, Walter WOLF, Jody moved for two seasons to the new eponymous Team, based on the remains of the former Frank WILLIAMS stable that used the HESKETH chassis, and where Jody SCHECKTER succeeded in winning in the WOLF WR1 for its first F1 race, at the Argentine Grand Prix in 1977, which had not happened since Juan-Manuel FANGIO won at the wheel of a MERCEDES W196 at the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux in 1954!

In his first season with WALTER WOLF RACING, he won three victories and finished second in the World Championship, 17 points behind the Champion, the Austrian Niki LAUDA.

Jody driving the 1978 WOLF – Photo: Publiracing Agency

1978 and still with WOLF RACING was not like this, as he had to be content with only two third steps on the podiums of Monaco and in the USA at Watkins Glen, which however did not prevent him from reaching the ‘ Cup!

Jody won and WORLD CHAMPION driving a FERRARI in 1979 – Photo: Publiracing Agency

… And this by being the official driver of the Team, the most prestigious in F1, the Scuderia FERRARI, since the 1979 season, where he will not only pay tribute to the Commendatore by winning the Grands Prix of Belgium, Monaco and Italy, but will reward himself by winning the drivers’ world title at the end of the 79 season!

A title that would leave FERRARI waiting for a sequel for 21 years, before Michaël SCHUMACHER, in fact, found the recipe in 2000 to put the Prancing Horse back on the path to success.

After this prosperous year, the Scuderia would return to oblivion in 1980 with the 312 T5 succeeding the 312 T4 and proving ineffective throughout the nightmarish season that ended … without victories, without podiums, without poles, or any fastest lap, with only eight tiny little points collected, including six for Gilles VILLENEUVE and only two for the reigning World Champion, SCHECKTER!!!

Who, having failed decided to end his career in F1 at the age of 30, an age at which ASCARI, FARINA or FANGIO, all World Champions before him, had not started in F1!

For Jody SCHECKTER, the 1980 season will be the end of an epilogue, where at the end of the ninth chapter, the South African pilot will definitely turn his back on a discipline that he had always considered a relaxation rather than a job in during the nine years of its presence in the premier category with 112 Grands Prix against the clock and crowned with ten victories, three Poles, five fastest laps in the race and 1 World Champion title, as icing on the cake.


After separating from his wife Pam, with whom he had two sons, Tomas and Toby, who later also started a short career in motorsport, young retiree Jody launched into business, first creating his own company FATS (Fire Arms Training System) based in Atlanta in the USA and produces gun simulators intended for Police, Army and Security agents.

Settled in the USA, he then met his second wife, Clare, with whom he would have four more children: Hugo, Freddie, Ila (who died in 2019) and Poppy.

The latter, who used a commercial profession in the United States but was in love with organic farming, was able to persuade Jody to leave the Atlanta region in favor of his native Hampshire in the south of England, where he planned a professional re- training, which is related. certainly in all things related to ecology.

Attracted by this project and after selling his prosperous business in Atlanta for about 100 million US dollars, Jody, who in addition to his nickname “bear cub” has already faced the animal world during his career as a pilot, by certain style. creatures in the body of the F1 Teams in which he drove, such as the Kiwi in McLaren, the Wolf in the Wolf and the Horse in Ferrari, suddenly experienced a passion for a radical professional retraining, which took a surface place of 1,000 Hectares of agricultural land, where he will build a family farm consisting of various herds of cows with dairy and meat production and dedicated to agrobiological.

JODY in the middle of his farm with his herd – Photo: Publiracing Agency

The complex located in the north of Southampton is called Laverstoke Park Farm, where Jody SCHECKTER, 72, still oversees the management by regularly placing the dough, helped by a hundred collaborators who give temporarily to agro-food this farm. , so well known that even a great Chef, such as the Frenchman Raymond Blanc of Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, did not hesitate to praise the quality produced by the SCHECKTER farm that made a name for itself under slogan:

“From meadow to fork”.

And if in the meantime, its production reaches the cultivation of fruits and vegetables as well as a small vineyard, a barn of its agricultural buildings, attracts attention because it contains a small stud farm of some.. .550 horsepower, in particular his 1979 FERRARI 312 T4, which allowed him to become World Champion, a memory that will remain indelible for him and that time will never be erased.

Manfred GIET

Photos: Publiracing Agency’

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