Jacky Ickx - A Competition History
Book Review - Jacky Ickx: His Authorised Competition History
A book that sets out to document every race entered by one of motorsports most iconic drivers is bound to be a big book. In the case of Jacky Ickx, who’s career spanned four decades, the result is a book that weighs in at just shy of 7 lbs.
By Roger Lundblad
Sat, Feb 11, 2023 09:30 PM PST
Book Review: Jacky Ickx: His Authorised Competition History
Book Author: John Saltinstall
Foreword by Derek Bell
Published by: ERVO PUBLISHING
Distributed in the United States by Quarto Publishing Group USA
US Price: $130
Author Jon Saltinstall has written the authorized history of Ickx’s racing record. This is an enormous undertaking, as Jacky Ickx’s racing career began on two wheels, not four. Like his father, a noted motorsports journalist, Belgium’s forests were the venue for his entry into trials competition. Navigating the streams, rocks, and trees requires an acute sense of balance and dexterity.
Even as youngster, Ickx displayed a mastery of the sport that even acknowledged champions could not ignore. Soon, he was offered the opportunity to move up to motorcycle racing on closed circuits where the rewards were far greater than those in trials events. Once again, Ickx’s prowess caught the attention of the those who had something very different in mind. Jacky Ickx found himself at an important juncture in his racing life, and it’s an equally important beginning in the book. It is here where the numerical record of his competition history begins..
Even after his first saloon car race ending in a crash, Ickx continued to push himself and his car to the limit. At age 18, the director of Ford Belgium offered Ickx the use of the new 1963 Ford Lotus Cortina. You could say the rest is history.
It was at a time when a really good driver was booked for an event every weekend, and so it was for the Belgian teenager’s calendar as he stormed across Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It was during this time that he cemented his reputation as the master of wet weather driving.
His string of successes in touring car racing and hillclimb competitions brought him to the attention of Ford Europe. This resulted in his promotion to higher levels of competition. By 1966, Ickx was racing in F-3 single-seater competition as well as top-tier sports cars competition that included the 24 hours of Le Mans. He had shown that his talents placed him in racing’s top tier.
Jon Saltinstall’s writing conveys the fluid nature of events in Ickxs’ career. The sequence of developments made his ascendancy to F-1 inevitable. The team that opened the door for Jacky Ickx’s entry into the world of motorsports most revered series came as a surprise to many.
1967 was an especially cruel year for Ferrari Racing. The tragic death of Ferrari’s ace Lorenzo Bandini had left a hole in their F-1 team. In the fall of 1967, Enzo Ferrari made his intentions known for the 1968 season. Jacky Ickx would be driving for Ferrari. His 23rd birthday found him in his first F-1 race for the Scuderia. The result was a DNF. His years with Ferrari in both F-1, F-2, and sports cars were marked with moments of brilliance as well as setbacks due to Ferrari’s reliability issues.
AND … Ickx’ ties to Ford powered cars were still firmly in place. This put him at odds with Ferrari. In spite of his victories, Ickx opted to leave Ferrari. 1969 saw him in a Brabham, paired with his boss, Jack Brabham. It was a season of success as evidenced by his nearly winning the Formula One World Championship. But it was his epic victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that cemented his place in history. Ferrari was pleased to see him return to the fold for 1970.
The season proved to be very successful for Ickx. He recorded 3 wins which put him in position to win the world championship. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to close the gap to points leader Jochen Rindt, who had been killed weeks earlier during practice in Italy. Once again, he finished second in World Championship points to Rindt, sadly, the only driver to win the championship posthumously.
The following years for Ickx were dogged by an increasingly uncompetitive car. His last GP win came at the 1972 German Grand Prix. 1973 brought the situation to a head and Ferrari agreed to end his tenure. The balance of his years in F-1 were spent with Team Lotus, Walter Wolf, Ensign, and finally with Liger in 1979. Ickx had maintained his status in sports cars, where he continued to have success.
In 1976, he became a factory driver for Porsche. It was with Porsche that his career acquired a new lease on life. The team had the resources to put him at the front of the grid. Porsche was about to enter a momentous chapter in the company’s history and for motorsports, as well. During his years at Porsche, Ickx and his teammates won the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans four times. In addition to his 6 career victories at Le Mans, he was the 1979 North American Can-Am champion.
After the 1985 season, Jacky Ickx left sportscar racing to continue his interest in Paris-Dakar rally. He had won the event in 1983 and was an entrant for a further 9 years. Few drivers in the history of motorsports have achieved such a high level of success.
Jon Saltinstall’s remarkable writing keeps the reader’s attention to a book containing 590 pages of densely packed details. Credit is due to the author who has compiled and edited volumes of information and some 850 photographs chronicling Ickx’s career and the world in which he raced.
Please know that this is a beautifully designed book. Everything about it looks and feels like quality, from the binding to the slick feel of the pages. As for anyone who is interested in the history of racing and, in particular the career of Jacky Ickx, this book is not to be missed.
May 2023 UPDATE
Live and In Person … Jacky Ickx was the special guest speaker at the annual Stand 21 Safety Foundation Seminar held in conjunction with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and our reporter Roger Lundblad was in attendance.
Close on the heels of reviewing Ickx’ book, his listening to and meeting the man himself was quite an experience. Here’s how that episode went:
…If motorsports ever had notions of royalty within its ranks, then racing great Jacky Ickx would be its crown prince. Ickx was in town for last month’s Long Beach Grand Prix. He delivered a one hour talk which was a summation of a career spanning four decades.
In person, Ickx exudes the grace and savior faire of European equanimity. He relates his years behind the wheel of racing cars much like a career diplomat would describe the ebb and flow of world events. In fact, Ickx has assumed the role of ambassador to the world as seen through the eyes of one of the most iconic figures in motor sport.
He has chosen not to dwell on the friends and colleagues who lost their lives doing what they loved most, but instead gives his audience greater insight into the personalities and the environment in which the operated. He decidedly refers to it as “the human element” in which the people acknowledge the existential component of the profession but maintain the composure and the dedication of a concert pianist. The deft touch and the acute sense of the timing is the rare quality that Ickx conveys to his audience.
I was struck by his humanist ethos punctuated by adroitly placed moments of humor. In short, Jacky Ickx is a master as he has been his entire life.
About The Author
Roger Lundblad is a retired TV/Movie scenic designer, and a fully-accredited Porsche nut. He’s also a very accomplished photographer, who lives for those great golden light shots of exotic cars wherever in the world that he comes upon them. Splitting his time pretty equally between the Monterey Peninsula and Pasadena, he gets his share of those sightings...