Former F1 driver and saviour of Jackie Stewart passes away

15-11-2021 20:50
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Former F1 driver and saviour of Jackie Stewart passes away

Probably his name doesn't mean much to the public. The American Bob Bondurant drove also 'only' nine Grands Prix, with a best result the fourth place in Monaco (1966). Nevertheless, Bondurant (88), who died last week, will forever have an important place in F1 history. He saved the life of Jackie Stewart.

Downpour

The race in Belgium on the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps started in 1966 in dry, but cloudy conditions. The starting shot had barely been fired and already in the first lap it started to rain. On the suddenly wet and slippery track eight drivers crashed, including Stewart. The Brit hit a telegraph pole and then the house of a lumberjack. He ended up in the basement of a farmhouse, stuck in his car. Because the fuel tank had ruptured, the monocoque filled with fuel.

Just before that Graham Hill had gone off the track at the same spot. He saw the wreck of his team mate and rushed to Stewart. Seconds later, Bob Bondurant, who had spun at the same spot, arrived as well. Hill and Bondurant tried with all their might to get Stewart out of his predicament, while the fuel kept flowing. Eventually, after 25 minutes (!), they succeeded in unscrewing the steering wheel with a screwdriver - given to them by a spectator - and freeing Stewart from the car.


Sports cars

Bob Bondurant eventually drove nine Grands Prix. In F1 he never really broke through, but in sports cars he had a very successful career. Bondurant won Le Mans in his class.

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