Arguably the most famous man in Belgian motorsport, Jacky Ickx has raced everything from motor bikes to touring cars and is a 6-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His motosport resume lists achievements in the some of the most toughest of competitions, including eight wins and 25 podium finishes in Formula One, winner of the 1979 Can-Am championship and winner of the 1983 Paris – Dakar Rally in a Mercedes Benz G-Class.
Ickx was introduced to the high octane buzz of racing by his father, journalist Jacques Ickx. By tagging along with his father to the many races he covered, young Jacky was exposed at an early age – but didn’t get the bug until his father bought him a 50cc Zundapp Motorcycle. Once he’d mastered the art of racing, Jacky managed to win 8 of his first 13 races contested – as well and the European 50cc Trails title.
In 1965, Jacky moved into touring cars in a Lotus Cortina, taking the domestic title in the same year and then tackling the torturous Spa 24 Hour race – which he won in 1966. His appearances and racing skill drew much attention, such was his natural ability and it was only a matter of time before Formula One came knocking.
That moment happened in 1966 with Ickx entering the Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, driving a Matra MS5-Cosworth one-litre Formula Two car entered by Ken Tyrrell. His first foray was to last less than one lap, for after colliding with John Taylor his race was over (tragically Taylor died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident) and it was another year before Ickx would return.
In 1968, Ickx got the call to drive for Ferrari. After retiring from his first two races, he found his stride and ended the year with 27 points and fourth in the standings. In 1969, he moved over to Brabham where he had a better year, finishing second in the Championship behind the great Jackie Stewart. After a year at Brabham, Ickx moved back to Ferrari in 1970.
In the latter half of the decade, Ickx drove for Lotus (in an ageing Lotus 72 and troublesome Lotus 76) with decent results few and far between. It came to a head in mid 1975 when Ickx was stood down by Colin Chapman with the promise of re-employment when the car became competitive again. However in 1976, Ickx was set to drive for McLaren, before being edged out by James Hunt. He would drive for the Wolff Team until a bad crash at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen – which nearly claimed his life – meant Ickx would never come back to a full time F1 drive.
After sposmadic appearances he would retire from Formula One in 1979, after filling in for the injured Patrick Depailler for eight races late in the season.
But as they say, there is life after Formula One and Ickx continued to win races, series and championships in a variety of arenas, all over the world. In 2000, Ickx become the ifrst sports person to become and honorary citizen of Le Mans, whilst in 2002, Ickx was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
@Mobil1TheGrid caught up with him at the 2017 London Classic Car Show & Historic Motorsport International at London’s ExCel Centre, to find out more about his illustrious racing career.