- August 22, 1947
- South Africa
- Not Active
Ian Scheckter is a former racing driver from South Africa and the elder brother of the 1979 F1 World champion Jody Scheckter. Ian himself raced in the Formula 1 World Championship, recording 20 entries (18 starts) between 1974 and 1977.
Parallel to his F1 international career, he was very successful in his home country, taking Formula Atlantic South African Championship titles four times in a row from 1976 to 1979, and then two more times in 1983 and 1984. He's one of three six-time champions in the South African premier open-wheel competition, next to John Love and Dave Charlton.
Born in August 1947 in East London on the southeast coast of South Africa, Ian Scheckter made a debut in the South African Formula 1 Championship in 1973, driving a Chevron B25-Cosworth for Team Gunston. In his rookie season, he was on a podium two times, finishing fourth in the points.
He also made few starts in sports car races in a Chevron B26-Cosworth, sharing a car with John Watson. They retired at Kyalami 9 Hours and won the Cape Town's round of the South African Springbok Trophy Series.
In 1974, Scheckter finished second in the South African F1 Championship, scoring five wins in a Lotus 72E-Cosworth, one victory less than champion Dave Charlton.
Scheckter was a vice-champion again in 1975, losing a title again to Dave Charlton who captured his sixth championship trophy. This time, Scheckter was driving a Tyrrell 007-Cosworth and won six races.
In March 1974, Ian Scheckter made a debut in the Formula 1 World Championship. Team Gunston was running the #29 Lotus 72E-Cosworth for him in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit. Starting 22nd on the grid, he finished 13th, two laps behind race winner Carlos Reutemann (Brabham).
Later that year, in August, Scheckter had one more World Championship attempt with Hesketh Racing in the Austrian Grand Prix. At the wheel of the #31 Hesketh 308-Cosworth, he was too slow in qualifying and didn't qualify for the race.
In the 1975 Formula One World Championship season, Ian Scheckter recorded three starts. In the South African Grand Prix, he was driving a Tyrrell 007-Cosworth for Lexington Racing, a car which he was using in the South African F1 Championship. He crashed out after 55 laps.
Later in the season, Scheckter joined Frank Williams Racing Cars to drive a Williams FW03-Cosworth in two events – Swedish Grand Prix and Dutch Grand Prix. He retired at Scandinavian Raceway and finished 12th at Zandvoort.
In 1976, the South African Formula 1 Championship was dismissed and the Formula Atlantic became the national premier series, opened for F2 and F5000 cars. Driving a March 76B-Cosworth for Lexington Racing, Ian scored six wins and took his first championship title, stopping the reign of Dave Charlton.
Ian Scheckter was a dominant Formula Atlantic driver in the next three seasons, taking three more consecutive titles from 1977 to 1979 with Lexington Racing's March-Cosworth cars. At the end of 1979, the United Tobacco Company withdrew their teams (Lexington, Gunston, Texan) from the championship and Scheckter also left the series.
While dominating in the South African open-wheel racing, Ian Scheckter tried himself also in the Formula 1 World Championship. In 1976, he made just one start with Lexington Racing's Tyrrell, not finishing the South African Grand Prix, and then entered the full season in 1977 with Rothmans International March team.
He participated in fourteen of seventeen championship races, driving a Cosworth-powered March 761B or March 771. He reached the finish line in just two races, finishing 11th in Spain and 10th in the Netherlands. Scheckters' last F1 World Championship Grand Prix was the Canadian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the season because he missed the last race in Japan due to not having a proper visa.
Following his fourth championship-winning season in the Formula Atlantic in 1979, Ian Scheckter was out or racing for three seasons, returning to Formula Atlantic in 1983 with Team Gunston. Driving a March 832-Mazda, he won thirteen races and captured his fifth title. A year later, again in a March-Mazda, he won eleven races to take his sixth title.
Outside Formula Atlantic, he made some attempts with Kreepy Krauly Racing's March-Porsche in the IMSA GT Championship in 1984 and 1985, including a start at Daytona 24 Hours in February 1985. He was sharing a car with fellow South Africans Sarel van der Merwe and Tony Martin, not finishing the race.