A South African racing legend from the ‘60s and early '70s, Jacobus Pretorius was born in Potchefstroom, near Johannesburg in 1934. Born into one of the most famous families in South Africa he had a priveldged childhood. His family were direct decendants of Andries Pretorius who was one of the earliest Dutch settlers and helped found Transvaal Republic. Andries' son, Martinus, went on to become the first president of the South African Republic, help write the constitution and also founded the city of Pretoria in honour of his father.
Growing up he had a reputation of being a bit of a hellraiser and in his 20s became friends with Doug Serrurier and Buddy Fuller (a speedway champion) and the formed a stunt driving act called the Dunlop Hell Drivers Team. After a number of injuries he turned to the safer world of motor racing starting with a Cooper in Formula Junior.
In 1964 Pretorious drove the Doug Serrurier built LDS-Alfa Romeo 1.5 in a number of national and international events. The early LDS-Alfa Romeos was based on Cooper designs and he entered a number of non-championship F1 races that year without much luck. In July he entered the Mozambique Grand Prix at Lourenco Marques just outside Maputo but retired in the race. This was followed by another retirment from the Rhodesian Grand Prix at Kumalo. A similar fate befel him at the Rand GP at Kyalami in December when he was forced to withdraw due to a mechanical failure after practice.
Armed with a new Mk3 LDS chassis, based on a Brabham BT11, he entered the 1965 South African GP at East London a month later in January 1965 but failed to pre-qualify.
His time with LDS was not a success however he became a regular in the local F1 series, moving on to Aldo Scribante's Scuderia Scribante in 1966 driving a Lotus 21-Climax. At the South African Grand Prix in January he finished 9th the the race had non-championship status, as did the Kumalo Bulawaya 100 F1 race in Rhodesia in June which ended with another retirment. He finally had some success in December finishing 4th in the Rhodesian Grand Prix once again held at Kumalo and took another 4th the following year at Kumalo and a third at Lourenco Marques in the Mozambique Grand Prix.
In 1968 he returned to Doug Serrurier's LDS team to race a Team Pretoria Brabham-Repco BT11. In January he finished second to Jean-Pierre Beltoise in the first round of the South African F1 Championship at Killarney. In Round 2, the Rand Autumn Trophy, at Kyalami, he finished 3rd and followed that up with a second in Round three at Roy Hesketh. More good results followed with a 4th, a 3rd and a 2nd in the next three rounds. at the Rand Winter Trophy in August at Kyalami he was fifth before taking his first win at the False Bay 100 a in late August at Killarney. Infortunatly he season ended with two retirements leaving him runner up in the 10 round Championship loosing out to John Love by 13 points.
He had was success in the Lola single-seaters and sports cars entered by Serrurier over the next three years, with his best season coming in 1971 in the Team Gunston Brabham BT26A, winning at Killarney and Natal’s Roy Hesketh circuit.
During this period he was employed by Wynn Oil and in 1972 the team became Team Wynn™s and he enjoyed more success with a Brabham.
He was called up by Frank Williams to drive the Iso Marlboro in the South African Grand Prix in 1973 as a replacement for Nanni Galli who had been injured in an earlier testing accident. He retired after 36 laps with overheating. He then returning to the local series with his ex-Motul Brabham.
At the end of the year, at the age of 39, he decided to retire from the sport. He remained with Wynn Oil until his retirement after 34 years with the company.
On October 11 2003 he and his wife Shirley were brutally attacked in their home in Glen Austin, a suburb of Johannesburg. Shirley was shot in the shoulder and head and Jackie was held at gunpoint and severely beaten. He was forced to open the safe which the intruders emptied before stealing Shirley’s car.
Both were put in intensive care and Shirley underwent a three-hour operation but tragically died the following day. More tragedy followed in March 2009 when his house was broken into again. He was severely injured and died after three weeks in a coma.