“Come the start of the New Year , it was time sorrowfully to head back
to Henley [on Thames], to return the Ferrari to the garage from whence it had come.
While I was there, in walked George Harrison, who had arrived to take
delivery of a new, black Porsche 911 Turbo.
Over the years I had come to know George a little, for our paths had
crossed at the races. For all his fame, he was one of the least
pretentious celebrities I ever met, an unalloyed motor racing enthusiast
who loved occasionally to come to a Grand Prix, to hang out in the
paddock and chat. That morning he at once began talking animatedly about
the forthcoming Lotus 79.
In came a salesman with the keys for the 911, and George got up to
leave. ‘D'you want to come for a spin?’ he said, and so away we went. It
was a bright morning, but still freezing hard, so no time for heroics.
After a while we stopped at a pub for coffee, and George got to talking
about his first Grand Prix, at Aintree in 1955.
By chance it had been mine, too, and we happily reminisced about that
hot, humid afternoon when the Mercedes quartet finished 1-2-3-4 and
Stirling Moss won a Grand Prix for the first time. ‘I’d seen Stirling
before,’ George said, ‘but that day I couldn’t believe that I was
actually seeing Fangio with my own eyes…’
Thereafter, whenever I encountered a W196 I thought of Aintree, yes,
but also that morning in Henley, and it was just so at the Goodwood
Revival in September. George Harrison, sadly, has been gone for 10 years
now, but as I wandered around the collection of Fangio’s cars - which
included two W1 96s, a streamliner and a conventional monoposto - in the
paddock I thought how much he, too, would have revelled in it.” - “Reflections” by Nigel Roebuck, Motor Sport Magazine, December 2011
George Harrison and Jackie Stewart through the years.
“George Harrison: So much more than just a Beatle…
One of the great enthusiasts, one of the nicest men. He also had one
of the biggest brains that I’ve had the pleasure of being around. People
might say ‘you can’t be serious, he was just a singer in The Beatles’.
But with his worldly knowledge and his beliefs, he was very articulate.
He was a great one for colouring pictures of life. He could really
graphically describe something, it was like you were seeing a picture in
front of you that someone like me could understand, perhaps outside of
my normal ability.
The times we had together were… fantastic. I took him up to
Hamilton Island, which is one of the Whitsunday islands off the Great
Barrier Reef. We’d just go and sit by the water and watch the huge tides
they get there. And we’d sit for hours talking, often about things in
which I wouldn’t usually be interested with anybody else. He had a huge
span of interest.
George was very religious, but he didn’t go to
church. But of course he went to India. And when he found somebody he
liked he really embraced them. The great sitar player Ravi Shankar, for
example, was almost a god to him.
His love of cars was deep. Jody Scheckter was a good friend, Emerson
Fittipaldi was a good friend, Damon Hill he helped financially to get a
drive. He was an incredibly loyal person. When he had that dreadful
thing happen to him in 1999, when he was stabbed in his own home, he was
so emotional and was very vulnerable. He phoned me and said he couldn’t
stay in the house, saying 'Jackie, you know all the hotels in London, I
thought the Grosvenor House would be good because I’ve been there with
you’. I told him 'you can’t go there because that boxer who bit
someone’s ear [Mike Tyson] is living there and there’s media around all
the time. You can’t go there, George’. And he said, 'Oh, can I come to
your house?’ So he, Olivia and Dhani came to live with us for a little
while. He was a gentle man and to be violated in that way was a terrible
thing for him.
His driving was not great! We did the Gunnar Nilsson tribute with
Fangio at Donington in 1979 and I’ve got a picture that he drew of us
with two speech bubbles. He was driving Stirling’s Rob Walker Lotus 18
and is ahead of me going down the Craner Curves. My bubble is saying,
'Jesus, I got him the drive and now he won’t let me past!’ He’s saying,
'well, I’ve got Jackie Stewart behind me - and he can’t pass!’
First and foremost he was a great friend, and I loved his music. I
met him in 1966 at Monaco. The whole lot of them came. I got on really
well with him, and with Ringo who is also a really nice man. Paul was
very alive and physically active in his descriptions, and Lennon was
obviously brilliant, but he was there but not really there, if you
understand what I mean. But George was a big hard-core enthusiast.
George has a big place in our lives and not just mine and Helen’s: he taught my son Paul to play the guitar…” - Sir Jackie Stewart, “The greatest party that never happened…,” Motor Sport Magazine, December 2011