Jody takes the Wolf WR1 around Long Beach in 1978, a circuit where he looked to be a winner the previous year before being slowed by a late puncture.
If he lasted long enough—that is, if he didn’t get killed in the process—canny observers thought this young South African could become a Formula One World Champion. Not even their crystal ball, though, could have predicted how: it was when driving a Ferrari 312T4 at Monza, the holiest of holies to the Italians, that Jody won the 1979 F1 World Championship. And with some outstanding performances from his teammate, the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, they won the World Constructors title for Maranello by coming 1st and 2nd at the Italian circuit. Not one, but two double-whammies in a single day, at Monza, in front of a delirious sea of red that invaded the track in the tens of thousands at race’s end.
In 1970, however, when Jody arrived in Britain from East London, near Durban in South Africa, it was a very different story. He had won an award as his country’s comingman in motor racing and, in 1971, the mop-topped newcomer set about charging his way through the UK’s FF1600 and Formula Three. He had so many crashes in those wild early days—and later in F1, for that matter—that people christened him Fletcher, the name of the little bird in the Jonathan Livingstone Seagull book that tried to fly too early and kept crashing into cliff sides. An analogy that was right on the money.
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