Jacky Ickx - The Gentleman Driver
It’s almost expected that when you meet drivers who have raced in Grand Prix, won Le Mans multiple times, won Daytona, won the Dakar rally and survived an era when every third driver was killed behind the wheel, that they will come with some smattering of ego. Almost expected, until you meet Jacky Ickx.
There was a scene during the 1969 Le Mans 24-hour race which interrupted the traditional start where drivers would sprint on foot across the track to jump into their cars. And it changed the face of the famous race forever.
With the car door open and a mechanic on standby, drivers would run across the track and dive into the cockpit, push the start button at the same time as they’d step on the gas which would force the door to slam shut and in one fluid, well-rehearsed movement, would fly off in a blaze up under the Dunlop bridge, through the Esses and on to Tertre Rouge for the first flying lap of the twice-round-the-clock classic.
For those in the second half of the field of the ’69 race, they would have been furious at one Jacky Ickx, who instead of running to his Ford GT40, chose to walk at a leisurely pace which impeded the drivers who had run across but now had to wait for him to cross the track [To be continued...]
The Gentleman Racer
Back when drivers weren’t restricted to racing just in Formula One but were free to switch categories as they pleased, Jacky Ickx had them all covered. So how can this six-time Le Mans winner still be so humble all these years later?
Maybe when you raced during an era where every third competitor would be killed, you value life and the people around you a little more. My time with Jacky Ickx confirmed everything I’d been told before hand, that he could teach you lessons not only on the track but also in life.
For a man who has survived arguably the most dangerous era of motorsport, Belgian, Jacky Ickx, at 72, still emits the enthusiasm and passion for motor racing of a teenage boy.
His father, motoring journalist Jacques Ickx, encouraged Jacky to get into motor racing by buying him a small dirt bike at 15.
After winning races and gaining attention across Belgium, he was loaned a BMW car to race and kept winning which was enough to get the attention of F1 team owner, Ken Tyrrell. [To be continued...]