Driver Jackie Stewart is a class act

While watching the World Baseball Classic on MLB Network, my attention was drawn to a commercial featuring former racecar driver Jackie Stewart. I hadn’t seen Stewart on television in many years, so it led me to do a little research.

The commercial is for a brand of beer, and in the ad, there are several videos of a younger Stewart finishing a race and being offered a beer, or at a party and being offered a beer, and each time he turns down the adult beverage. Then he appears today, at age 77, attending a party and is offered that same brand of beer. As he looks away from the camera, a car pulls up to the front of the building, and Stewart says, “No thanks, I’m still driving.”

The commercial than concludes with the message “When You Drive, Never Drink.”

Stewart competed in Formula One racing from 1965-1973, winning three world championships. However, to a younger audience he was best known for his appearances on television. I remember watching Stewart as a commentator for many years during ABC Sports’ coverage of the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and various other racing events on Wide World of Sports.

The “Flying Scot,” as he is called, spoke with an eloquent Scottish accent, always sounded very astute regarding the race and those involved, and had a very rapid delivery. In fact, one time on the air Jim McKay pointed out that Stewart spoke “almost as fast as he drives.”

In 1987, Stewart jumped to NBC SportsWorld coverage of auto racing, but that stint lasted only two years.

Now in retirement, Stewart lives in Buckinghamshire village of Ellesborough, England, and cares for his wife, Helen. The two have been married 54 years and she suffers from advanced symptoms of dementia.

Last July, Stewart did an interview with The Sun, a London daily newspaper, in which he said, “I have watched Helen change before my very eyes for the last two years. Her razor-sharp mind was one of the things I immediately fell in love with, and it is her mind that is vanishing.”

Stewart is pushing for a cure to be found to reverse the effects of dementia.

“Formula One has the fastest technology change of any business or industry or sport in the world,” he said in the newspaper interview. “While the race is going on, someone is deciding what they need to change and then that part gets designed, manufactured, and arrives in time for the next race — all within one week. The designers that are responsible for that are so creative and so fast. I want to find someone like that, but for dementia. I might not find them in the UK or America, but they’re out there. I won’t stop until I find them.”

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

This international tournament of professional baseball was originated by Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and professional leagues from around the world. For many years, it coexisted along with Olympic Baseball and the Baseball World Cup, however, the International Olympic Committee voted to discontinue baseball after the 2008 Olympic games, and the final Baseball World Cup was held in 2011.

Now, the World Baseball Classic is held every four years and it begins with qualification round games in a couple different venues, with teams vying to make the tournament. Then the WBC continues with pool play in four locations. This year the host cities for first round pool play are; Seoul, Tokyo, Jalisco and Miami. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the second round in Tokyo and San Diego. Then the top four teams will play in the championship round at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

Japan has won two of the previous three WBC Championships, and the Dominican Republic won the most recent tournament in 2013.

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s a fun tournament to watch as many of the players are members of various Major League teams, as well as pro leagues from all over the world, but they play together on the teams of their nationalistic heritage. I enjoy baseball of all types, Major League, minor league, Spring Training games, but when it comes to the WBC, there is the addition of nationalistic pride that comes into play.