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In the world of auto racing, no man rules like John Young Stewart of Dumbarton, Scotland. Among heroes past and present—the Juan Fangios, Stirling Mosses, Jim Clarks, A. J. Foyts and Mario Andrettis—he has come to occupy a special niche. Not only is he the master of Grand Prix racing, but also the most eloquent spokesman for progress and safety the sport has known. And a very well-to-do shaker of racing's money tree, too. Last week it was Stewart the driving maestro who commanded the racing world's attention with an overwhelming victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, England. Beaten for the pole position by a rank upstart and challenged throughout the race by one or another of the young lions clawing toward the top, Jackie drove flat-out when it counted, jammed the traffic lanes when he had to—but without endangering lives in the process—and while gaining a long lead toward his second world championship, put on a magnificent performance.
In a sport at once swift, commercial and deadly, Stewart has leaped a dimension beyond his predecessors. And with six races left to run he has a good chance of beating Jim Clark's alltime record of seven Grand Prix victories in a single season: he already has four.
As always, Stewart was playing it cool last week. "Winning or losing these races is not all that important," he said, "except as an individual thing. What's important is doing it, and doing it well. People fault me for being too commercial, but that's a private thing. You see, I am a Scot. They also tend to disbelieve my concern with safety on the circuit but, again you see, I want to stay alive while making money. That is a Scotsman speaking once more."
Having moved to Switzerland for tax purposes, Stewart enjoyed a good old British reunion at Silverstone. One day King Jackie lunched with the Duke of Kent and, when trying to buckle His Grace into a Tyrrell-Ford car, for once found himself a bit uptight, as did the Duke. "Don't fasten the seat belts," said Kent, "I don't think I'll fit." Helen Stewart, Jackie's delectable wife, laughed up a storm at that.
It was pleasant that in this gracious British setting Stewart ruled all he surveyed, but there was also that "uneasy lies the head" kind of thing of which the Scots especially are aware. And one thing that the Silverstone race showed is that Stewart does have his pursuers. In fact, the cheerful chaps who manned the P. A. system made it sound as if there was an entire army of them.
"Nnnnarrongalongggggg!! comes Emerson Pitty-patty in the speedy Gold Leaf Lotus...Myke it six lagers with lime, would ya, luv?...and Ferrari's bold challenger, Gray Rigatoni, followed by Rolf Stumblin in the Surtees...Aye, that's a bit of all right in the hot pants, what?...and the next sound you'll hear is Runty Weasel in the turbine car." Along the way, one's ear is drawn to such exotic names as Howlin Madly, in the BRM, and Lotus' splendid young newcomer, Dave Charlatan.
In the end, of course, the winner's carnations went around the neck of Stewart, thus restoring sanity to minds boggled by the semantic novelty of a whole new wave of Grand Prix drivers. In point of fact, their names are not quite as exotic as the public-address system might have indicated. They were Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni, Rolf Stommelen and Reine Wisell, Howden Ganley and Dave Charlton, not to mention Fran�ois Cevert, Ronnie Peterson and Henri Pescarolo. Over the past two seasons, Formula I racing has undergone a vast change of cast, if not of plot. Many of the old names are gone: Jack Brabham into retirement after three world championships, Piers Courage, Bruce McLaren, Jochen Rindt and Pedro Rodriguez dead of driving. But with the passing of the old guard, there is room for maneuver in the often rigid ranks of Grand Prix racing and the newcomers are taking good advantage.
The best of the new breed, and by far the most aggressive, is Ferrari's Clay Regazzoni. Or, to give him his proper monicker, Gianclaudio Regazzoni—a name that his followers splashed in white paint across the Silverstone track in yard-high capitals just opposite the Ferrari pits. Regazzoni is a sharp-tongued Swiss from Lugano, a relatively ancient newcomer of 31 who has had some wicked crashes. As one astute Italian observer put it: "You may be sure that Gianclaudio is not a timid boy." Regazzoni was rookie of the year last season on the strength of a victory at Monza, where Rindt was killed, and second-place finishes in Austria, Canada and Mexico.
Much younger than Regazzoni, and in many ways more appealing, is Team Lotus' No. 1 driver, Emerson Fittipaldi. Emmy is only 24, a shy, shaggy-haired Brazilian who won the U.S. Grand Prix last year in his first season. Emerson—named after Ralph Waldo, of all people—began his racing career in 1965. "I drove some of those strange machines that exist only in South America," he explains. "My brother and I built a little two-liter monster that rather resembled a Porsche Carrera Six but had a personality all its own."
Emigrating to Britain in late 1968, Fittipaldi raced Formula Fords and F-3 cars for nearly two seasons before his skills caught the eye of Lotus Boss Colin Chapman. With Rindt's death, Emmy became Chapman's top driver. Behind the wheel he is a strong competitor. "They don't come any tougher than Emmy," says Jackie Stewart.