My dad’s a Formula One legend but my career gave me a connection to Rangers icon

WHAT do you do when your dad is a three-time world champion in his sport, but your heart isn’t set on following him into the same discipline?

Well, go into the film industry and make a documentary about his life of course!

Do you recognise this motor sport icon?

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Do you recognise this motor sport icon?Credit: Alamy
Here he is today...

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Here he is today…Credit: EPA
And here he is with his family

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And here he is with his familyCredit: Getty

His line of work has also led to him having a unique connection to a well-known former Rangers star.

The ‘Flying Scot’ as he was dubbed in his heyday, Sir Jackie Stewart raced to the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship three times in the seventies.

He is one of the greatest to ever sit behind the wheel of an F1 car, up there with the likes of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Jim Clark and was the only British drivers to win three Drivers’ titles until Lewis Hamilton achieved the feat in 2015.

Sir Jackie was famous for being kitted out in tartan in the paddock and his helmet sported the Royal Stewart colours around the rim.

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Since retiring from the racing he became a passionate advocate for improved safety regulations in the sport, with F1 notorious for fatal crashes in the sixties and seventies.

Sir Jackie had brushes with death himself during his career and watched helplessly as many of his friends on the circuit perished and took it upon himself to use his status as a multiple world champion to become a pioneer for improvements such as full-face helmets, safety barriers, run-off areas and on-site doctors at racetracks.

Oh, and seat belts.

Yes, believe it or not, it wasn’t until Sir Jackie’s campaigning that seat belts became mandatory in a sport where cars would easily exceed 120mph, even in those days.

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Sir Jackie has two sons with wife Helen, Paul and Mark.

While Paul followed his dad into F1, eventually running the Stewart Grand Prix team together, Mark chose to go down another route.

Mark and Jackie Stewart at the premiere of Armstrong in 2015

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Mark and Jackie Stewart at the premiere of Armstrong in 2015Credit: Getty
Mark with former F1 stars David Coulthard and Felipe Massa

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Mark with former F1 stars David Coulthard and Felipe Massa

Like his father, Mark has overcome struggling with dyslexia to find success in his chosen career path.

He said in an interview with The Sunday Times’ Driving Magazine in 2016: “At school, I was really struggling, so Dad took me to have all these tests. At the end, they said I was dyslexic and Dad remarked that he’d had the same problems when he was at school. People making you feel stupid, calling you an idiot.

“Dad took the test and found out he was dyslexic, too. I think we were both relieved we weren’t idiots.”

Mark became a film producer and two of his most acclaimed works involve his dad and none other than Rangers icon Paul Gascoigne.

His company, Mark Stewart Productions, was behind the Gazza documentary that aired on the BBC earlier this year and won a Royal Television Society award for best documentary series.

After winning the prize, Mark posted on Instagram: “So proud of my team at Mark Stewart Productions and director Sam Collins for winning best documentary series at the Royal Television Society awards in London last night!

“Many thanks to the the great man himself @paul_gascoigne8 for allowing us in to tell this gritty story full of passion, talent and character.”

The documentary charts Gascoigne’s rise and fall, from making headlines on the pitch at Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur and starring for England at the World Cup, to his off-field troubles and the impact of the press coverage on his life.

His career enjoyed a resurgence at Rangers under Walter Smith but ever since retiring from the game he has struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction and his mental health.

Mark's production company was behind the Gazza documentary shown on the BBC

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Mark’s production company was behind the Gazza documentary shown on the BBC

Mark’s production company has helped produce two films on his dad, a documentary for Sky titled Stewart and one directed by Roman Polanski called Weekend of a Champion.

Following the release of Stewart, Mark said on his Instagram account: “After a long road (pun intended)…we’re finally here and ready to release @stewart_film to the world.

“Telling my father’s story wasn’t easy, as there are too many chapters…but I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

Emerson Fittipaldi was one of Sir Jackie’s toughest on-track rivals and a fellow multiple World Championship winner.

He said after the film was teased on social media: “Looking forward to seeing this.

“Congratulations for honouring the incredible talent, life, achievements of one of my idols and a very toughest rival and one of the greatest champions in F1 history.”

Stewart Sr behind the wheel of his F1 car at the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix

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Stewart Sr behind the wheel of his F1 car at the 1968 Dutch Grand PrixCredit: Getty

Asked if he ever wanted to follow on his father’s racing boots, Mark cited that as a child he didn’t quite appreciate the toll that motor sport was taking on his dad, who was “watching his friends get killed” every other week.

As he matured, that aspect affected him and helped inform his decision not to get behind the wheel for a living.

He explained: “As a kid, I knew my father drove cars for a living, but I’m glad I was too young to understand what that really meant. For me and my brother, the most exciting things were travelling on aeroplanes and bouncing on the fancy hotel beds.

“What I didn’t know was that, while we were enjoying ourselves, Dad was watching his friends get killed.

“As I got a bit older, I began to understand the other side of motor racing. Mum and Dad tried to hide it from us, but I saw how much it affected them.

“When you look at the sport today, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it was back then. If a fuel tank burst into flames and your overalls were on fire, it was just another day at the office.

“Did I ever want to follow in my father’s footsteps? My brother did, and I was asked the question many, many times when I was a young man. If I’m being honest, I think that the deaths my father saw affected me, too.”

That’s not to say Mark doesn’t have fond memories of the glamorous side of F1.

He added: “Of course, there was the glamour. George Harrison was a good friend of my father’s and he became Uncle George to us. I got to meet four US presidents, Ford, Carter, Bush Sr and Clinton.

“But, through my dad’s eyes, I’d seen the reality of motor racing.”

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Mark’s production company tends to focus on documentaries on famous figures or periods in history and include Faberge, Spitfire, The Last Man on the Moon and the Maharajas’ Motor Car.

The Stewart family also founded the Race Against Dementia charity, after matriarch Helen was diagnosed with the disease.

Actor Florence Pugh is a notable supporter of Race Against Dementia

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Actor Florence Pugh is a notable supporter of Race Against Dementia
Mark has met several racing legends, including four-time F1 champ Alain Prost

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Mark has met several racing legends, including four-time F1 champ Alain Prost

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