A Motorsport Legacy: Jacky Ickx reflects on his career in racing

Henry Kelsall

Jackie Ickx has had one of the most diverse Motorsport careers of anyone. Formula 1, Can Am, Le Mans, Dakar. You name it, he’s done it. Ickx recently sat down with Mobil 1 The Grid to discuss his legendary career.

It is surprising how career aspirations can change; Ickx originally didn’t have dreams of becoming a racing driver. Far from it. He originally wanted to be a gardener or gamekeeper, a far cry from the world of Formula 1 and motor racing. He became a racing driver due to his poor academic ability at school led him to pursue other roads–and it was here his career took off and blossomed. He would go on to race in GP, F1, Le Mans, Can Am, not to mention appearing in the Paris-Dakar rally.

Jacky Ickx in his Ferrari

“Everyone is surprised when I say what I wanted to be in my childhood. I always thought I would love to be a gardener or gamekeeper. I did motor racing because basically I was poor at school, but when I started racing with motorcycles, for the first time in my life I discovered the joy of the podium which changed a lot of things life.”

Ken Tyrrell gave Ickx his big break in F1. He became teammate to Jackie Stewart–another legend who requires no introduction. Ickx also raced for Ferrari and Lotus in F1, taking eight victories and 25 podiums in his Grand Prix career. Sadly, though, he didn’t manage to secure a drivers title despite his skill and hard work. Ickx could have won the 1970 world title with Ferrari, but he lost out to Jochen Rindt who would die in the Italian Grand Prix that year. Ickx was glad to have not won that title, saying back in 2011 that he did not want to beat a man who could not defend his chances. Later into the 70’s, Ickx found a new home in sportscars with one of the world’s most iconic brands.

Porsche 936/81 with Jacky Ickx (in the car) and Derek Bell in Le Mans 1981 (overall winners)

“The incredible offer to join Porsche was really welcome. I’ve driven almost all the Porsche possible, 935, 936, 956. Even Paris-Dakar was a 911. When you drive for Porsche, it’s really an open door for winning.”

Ickx landed a Porsche deal in sportscars and four of his six Le Mans victories came with the famous German brand, the other two with Ford in 1969 and 1975–driving the Mirage GR8 with Derek Bell. It is an achievement Ickx is incredibly proud of, joining the likes of Tom Kristensen, the man with 9 Le Mans wins, as one of the most successful drivers at the famous French race. Ickx also took a Can Am title and victory in the Dakar rally, again with Porsche, proving his versatility and cementing himself as one of the all time motorsport greats. He will always be regarded as a legend, and one of the most humble characters the sport has seen.

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