Stewart wins on F1 debut with… Lotus!

The 1964 Rand Grand Prix, a non-championship F1 race held at Kyalami on this day 59 years ago, was the scene of three singular facts that seem buried in F1 history: the event marked Sir Jackie Stewart’s F1 debut, his first win in F1 and his only F1 race at the wheel of a Lotus.

The event – run to F1 rules but divided into two 25-lap heats – was a warm-up to the South African Grand Prix that was set to be held at East London a few weeks later on January 1.

Several regular F1 teams entered the race but the bulk of the field was inevitably made up of a contingent of colorful locals in a diverse array of machinery.

Lotus was due to field a car for Jimmy Clark but the Scot had injured his back in a snowball fight at Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy. Team boss Colin Chapman subsequently drafted in young rookie Jackie Stewart who had never raced F1 machinery, let alone a Lotus F1 car.

The impressive 25-year-old launched his first race from pole but retired almost immediately following a drive-shaft failure. But in the second heat, Stewart was in a league of his own, the young apprentice indulging on the day in his maiden F1 victory.

As successful as both team and driver would become in the years that followed, the Rand Grand Prix marked the only F1 partnership between Stewart and Lotus in the history of the sport.