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Issue 7 - Top Gear (Jackie Stewart)

Whisky Magazine Issue 7
December 1999

 

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Top Gear (Jackie Stewart)

Champion driver Jackie Stewart OBE tells Jane Slade why motor racing and whisky make a classic blend.

He could hardly bear to lift his gaze from the track. It may be a good few years since he has seen it from behind the wheel, but former Formula One champion Jackie Stewart is still transfixed by the sight of rubber revolving on tarmac.

We are at Silverstone, the home of British Grand Prix racing, and Jackie is talking to me in his glass-fronted box overlooking the circuit. His mobile is on alert by his side and it rings constantly with queries about engine changes, slippery surface conditions and reported sightings of racing ace Mika Hakkinen.

Stewart employs his legendary concentration to switch easily from answering my questions to those on his mobile or just making comments on the performance of drivers zooming round the track. The man has a natural divert all of his own. His physical reactions may be slower these days, but you are in no doubt his mind is just as capable of making split-second decisions at 200mph.

Silverstone is probably Stewart's second home, a few laps from his Formula One team, newly christened Jaguar Racing, base in Milton Keynes and his house in the Chiltern Hills. But talk to him for
just a short while and you realise his heart is
also elsewhere.

Born in the Scottish former ship-building town of Dumbarton, he grew up in the shadow of the area's largest whisky distillery, Ballantine's.

"They had a bonded warehouse where they kept geese on guard. It was about 300 yards from our house – I will never forget the noise,"
he remembers.

Even t...

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