SCHECKTER, JODY (1950– ), race car driver, winner of the 1979 Formula One World Drivers Championship. Scheckter was born in East London, South Africa, but at the age of 20 he moved to England, where he developed his racing skills. In 1972 Scheckter qualified for his first Formula One race at Watkins Glen, finishing in ninth place. The following year Scheckter won the Formula 5000 (5 liter max. engine), while gaining a reputation for his aggressive style. A major setback occurred several months later, when he spun out of control at the end of the first lap of the 1973 British Grand Prix, taking out seven other cars in the process. However, Scheckter got back on track in 1974, finishing in third place in the Formula One standings, a feat he would repeat in 1976, and better in 1977 with a second-place finish. After dropping to seventh place in 1978, Scheckter decided to switch driving teams for the fourth time in his career, this time going with Ferrari. The move proved to be decisive, as Scheckter managed three first-place finishes (the Belgian, Monegasque, and Italian Grand Prix) over the course of the 1979 season, en route to amassing 51 points and winning the Formula One Championship. The following year, Scheckter could not find his form, accumulating only two points, and subsequently decided to retire from auto racing. Not resting on his laurels, that same year Scheckter moved to America and immediately started a business in firearms training simulators, which he sold in 1996 for approximately $100 million. He then moved back to England and began buying up plots of land near Basingstoke, and then ran a "biodynamic farming" business on an estate of over 2,500 acres. One of Scheckter's sons, Tomas, became a successful racing driver in his own right in the Indy Racing League, winning the 2005 Bombardier Learjet 500 and finishing fourth in the 2003 Indianapolis 500.
[Robert B. Klein (2nd ed.)]