Tea with Jacky Ickx
Sitting amongst a photographic gallery of former and current driving personalities in the Goodwood Festival of Speed Drivers Club, former F1 and Sports car champion Jacky Ickx looks relaxed and fabulously suntanned, with a stylish pullover wrapped around the shoulders of his racing suit.
“Coming here to Goodwood is beautiful, Lord March makes for such a wonderful scenario, to see my old friends – both in cars and people,” Jacky begins looking towards his team mate and 5 times Le Mans winner Derek Bell as he walks past ready to go and drive up the hill.
With so many questions to ask, I ask some of them all at once and hope that slowly one by one they will be answered. Who were his favourite team, his favourite race circuit and what his favourite cars in his career?
With an enigmatic smile and a glisten in his eyes, he replies, “So many cars – circuits – people! I think really to answer I would say that with the right car, the right team on any circuit would be my favourite.”
Well it was my own fault for being too presumptuous in asking such a loaded question, so I tried to break it down somewhat. “But is there a special time perhaps, that you remember as something of a pinnacle?”
“Well I had 32 seasons with a talented guardian angel – racing amongst Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Jackie Oliver, Mario Andretti – when it was time to stop I did. I retired in 1992 and now I drive for demonstrations such as here at Goodwood with the Renault Lotus.”
My conversation with Mr Ickx is broken many times with his friends (old and new) passing by to come over and offer a warm hand shake and often embrace, such as former Virgin driver and current reserve driver for Lotus Renault Jerome D’Ambrosio who popped by to say hello. Both drivers being from Belgium, the empathy was infectious, with the younger looking to the experienced with great admiration. They sit together and chat for a while whilst I roll off a few frames.
Jerome exits the ‘conversation salon chair ’ and I ask about his daughter Vanina. Jacky’s daughter who entered the BMW cup in 1996 with a constant racing career and raced last year in the Le Mans series with Kronos racing with co-drivers Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin in the Lola Aston Martin B09/60 finishing in 7th position. “Just like any parent I would prefer my child to not be in the sport as I have seen many accidents, but it is unattractive to dissuade her. She really enjoys it and is really very good so I stepped back and let her of course.”
No sooner had I started into a good conversation again, talking about Ferrari, Lotus and some of the races and the circuits that were now coming to mind had Sir Jackie Stewart walked by and all forms of our dialogue stopped. With Stewart followed a wave of keen admirers even from within the privacy of the Drivers Club, where signatures scribbled in notebooks, programmes and on memorabilia, the celebrated driver soon turned to his friend and the two Jacky’s were in a warm embrace that even I scrambled to find my composure and steal their moment in my lens.
My tête-à-tête with this charismatic Belgium former racing driver was over for now and what was said I suppose, will be just between me and him. So I leave you with the portraits taken during the interview. I think they almost will tell you more than my words do.