The April 18 RRDC Evening with Sir Jackie Stewart Presented by Firestone drew a crowd of well over 400 guests that included champion racing drivers, industry leaders, sanctioning group representatives and other icons of the racing world. 

The 14th annual banquet celebrating the legends of motorsport honored the three-time Formula 1 World Champion at a banquet held at the Long Beach Hilton Hotel prior to the running of the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. All proceeds from the evening, including from the live and silent auctions, will benefit Stewart’s Race Against Dementia, Team USA Scholarship, and The Mark Donohue Foundation, which supports the RRDC’s SAFEisFAST initiative.

The event honors auto racing’s most influential leaders, which have included Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, George Follmer, Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Rutherford, David Hobbs, Rick Mears and Jacky Ickx.

A champagne toast celebrated the evening. [Albert Wong image]

“Tonight, we’re honoring Sir Jackie Stewart, dubbed the ‘Flying Scot’ for good reason,” said Road Racing Drivers Club president Bobby Rahal in his introduction. “His incredible list of accomplishments includes three Formula 1 World championships – where he held the record for the most wins by an F1 driver for 14 years – and Rookie of the Year honors at the Indianapolis 500 – a race he almost won but was denied by a mechanical failure with eight laps to go.

“Alongside his numerous career milestones, Sir Jackie was and is an outspoken advocate for safety in racing, as well as for those battling dyslexia and dementia – funding the global charity Race Against Dementia.”

Rahal recognized event sponsors Firestone, SRO Motorsports Group and Greg Gill; Lexus Racing, Jeff MacPherson; Checkered Past Productions and Chris Locke; Club Wheelhouse and Martin Lauber; Big Machine Spiked Coolers and Scott Borchetta; M1 Concourse; the SEMA Organization; Jimmy Vasser and his sister Vicki of V12 Vineyards; and Jeff O’Neill of O’Neill Wines. 

A short video written and voiced by NBC Sports TV commentator Leigh Diffey chronicled Stewart’s career, and a “vintage” clip from the Ed Sullivan Show featuring a staged slot-car race among early-era F1 drivers Stewart, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney and Stirling Moss entertained the racing royalty in the audience. Also shown was a dynamic music video featuring Stewart’s son Paul as well as accomplished musicians Eric Clapton, Nick Mason and Simon Le Bon providing a glimpse into the life of Sir Jackie Stewart, who was awarded the OBE in 1972 and knighted in 2001.

Mario Andretti and Sir Jackie Stewart traded barbs but displayed true respect for each other as not only on-track rivals but off-track friemds. [Albert Wong image]

Rahal then quizzed Stewart, who shared stories of his years with race teams such as BRM, Tyrrell, and others, and recounted tales of his many encounters with other internationally acclaimed racing drivers, in particular his friend Mario Andretti, who came to the stage.

The two bantered about their on- and off-track relationship, with Andretti finally responding with, “Well, Jackie is Jackie. We’ve known each other for eternity. He’s one of the individuals in my life that has inspired me to be a better driver. But our friendship was there from the beginning and it got stronger and stronger as individuals and we look back and reflect on our time together and it brings smiles to our faces. And he has a great sense of humor. He showed that tonight beautifully.

“Also, for him to come forward and spend so much time to try to address the dementia situation is a credit to him. We try to participate in our own way to help that aspect. Jackie is a mover and shaker. We talked about the safety aspect of the sport, and how important that was. And now he wants to battle something that’s affecting him personally. Good for him.”

Said Stewart,” I’m very proud that I was invited in the first place and I’m really so happy to have this financial commitment in our fight to Race Against Dementia. It’s such an important thing for my whole family, for the world. It’s very important. Very big. Thank you for the honor.”

Sir Jackie Stewart with acclaimed artist Bill Patterson. [Albert Wong image]

Sir Jackie Stewart signing the Bill Patterson “live” painting. [Albert Wong image]

A “live” painting created in the first two hours of the evening by renowned artist Bill Patterson depicting Stewart’s career from 1965 to 1973, featuring his 1965 BRM and 1973 Tyrrell F1 race cars, signed by Stewart, was auctioned off, fetching $26,000. As bidding between two individuals progressed, auctioneer Leigh Diffey offered up a second matching painting, with the approval of the artist, upping the bid for two paintings to $52,000. Top bidders? Mario Andretti! and Scott Borchetta!

A silent auction was also held of a number of racing images signed by Stewart.

The stage banner, displayed behind Stewart and Rahal. and the canvas prints of Stewart’s Tyrrell F1 car were created by Paul Laguette, whose mother-in-law suffers from dementia. This, and his love of the sport, inspired Laguette to produce these pieces.

About Race Against Dementia:
Race Against Dementia was founded by Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, after his wife Helen’s frontotemporal dementia diagnosis, funding early-career researchers to accelerate progress towards a cure for dementia. With over 55 million people affected globally and someone diagnosed every three seconds, Race Against Dementia is taking immediate action to drive significant breakthroughs and develop leaders in the field.

Supporting Race Against Dementia can help talented research scientists continue to seek preventative treatments and cures for dementia.

“I now face one of the biggest challenges of my life. I will put all my efforts into finding a cure for this horrendous illness.” – Sir Jackie Stewart OBE




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