VALE: IAN STEWART – JAGUAR WORKS DRIVER AND THE LAST ORIGINAL ECURIE ECOSSE RACER

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Ian’s forebears were crofters on the hills behind Loch Tay. Early members of the family, the McCallum’s eventually launched themselves into the whisky business producing D & J McCallum’s Perfection Scotch Whisky.

 

1951 was his key year as he managed to buy an early Jaguar XK120 and took it to Edinburgh to be serviced by Merchiston Motors run by ex-grand prix driver David Murray. The service director was Wilkie Wilkinson . At the end of the season David Murray had the idea of forming a team of Scottish drivers to race nationally and possibly internationally. Ian was the cornerstone of the idea as his superb driving had been noticed by no less a person than Stirling Moss who tipped off Jaguar competitions manager Lofty England. Initially David Murray had a Jaguar XK120 and he would join Ian but his wife disapproved so he sold it to the son of a local Haulier, Bill Dobson who was also keen to race. David now had two drivers for his Ecurie Ecosse team and needed a third as Esso had offered a substantial cheque if the team ran three identical cars in racing. The third man was to be Sir James Scott Douglas a Scot living in London who also had a Jaguar.

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The 1952 season saw Ecurie Ecosse arriving on the scene and winning races. Not only that, but Ian Stewart was chosen to race a factory C type Jaguar at Le Mans that year. Sadly that was the year Jaguar used a low-nose, long-tail version of the C type and the cars retired due to overheating. As a factory driver Ian was offered the chance to buy one of the customer C types that were being built and he bought chassis 06 and ran it in the Jersey Road Race having run in the engine on the drive from Coventry to the ferry to Jersey. He won first time out and had his greatest win in the car at Charterhall when in his drum-braked C type he beat Stirling Moss driving one of the new C types with disc brakes. He was again selected for the Jaguar team for the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours and finished 4th overall sharing with Peter Whitehead. By now he had been joined in Ecurie Ecosse by Ninian Sanderson and Jimmy Stewart and they were a formidable combination and one of the most successful privately entered sports car teams in period.

An invitation to race in Argentina in 1954, was taken up and Ian was to share one of the ex-factory C types with disc brakes in the race with Jimmy Stewart. It so happened that Ian’s father was in Argentina buying cattle for his pedigree stock in Scotland and was not interested in seeing his son race. He took a cargo boat back to Britain.

In the race Ian came up to lap the Porsche Spyder of Jaroslav Juhan who, in turn, was trying to overtake an even slower car. As Stewart arrived at the corner Juhan moved over and rather than hit the Porsche Ian tried to avoid Juhan and hit a wall breaking his collar bone in the accident. He was taken to hospital, but unfortunately news of this was passed on by radio to Ian’s father on board ship and by mistake was told that Ian had been killed. Needless to say he was relieved to find that Ian was not only alive, but arrived back home. At this stage Ian was given the ultimatum, give up motor racing and take over the family business or face the consequences.

As he was the only son he felt his responsibility rested with the family business and he retired from racing and never actually raced again.

Credit: Graham Gauld

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