Ian, the elder brother of 1979 Formula One champion Jody Scheckter, came to Europe in mid-1972 after winning the Driver to Europe award which came with clinching his domestic Formula Ford championship, the"Sunshine Series", with a Merlyn. After a brief stay, during which he proved his competitiveness, Scheckter returned to South Africa to contest the national championship in a Team Gunston Chevron and attempted to break Dave Charlton's long-held stranglehold on the title.
In 1973 and 1974, John Watson and Ian raced a works Chevron B26 sports car in the South African Springbok Series, finishing second.
Ian made his Grand Prix debut at Kyalami on March 30th 1974, driving a Lotus 72 for Team Gunston. In 1975 and 1976, he drove a Tyrrell 007 for Lexington Racing in the South African GP and did a couple of European races for Williams in the 1975 Swedish and Dutch Grands Prix.
In 1976 he won the South African Formula Atlantic Championship and, with Rothmans tobacco money, he was offered a full-time Grand Prix drive with March in 1977.
With no new car just a 1976 update, the 761Bs was plagued by transmission and clutch trouble, on top of the fact that it was just too slow. March had built the 240 (two wheel steering, four wheel drive, zero differential),but after intial testing both Ian and Alex-Dias Riberio reckoned there was nothing to be gained from the twin rear wheels and couldn't see the point of it, so the car was later converted to four wheels ans designated as the 771. Scheckter practised it on several occasions but raced it only once, the final GP in Canada.
Scheckter's final grand prix would have been the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix but he was refused entry into Japan due to his South African passport and the apartheid era that existed at that time.
March bowed out of F1 until their return in 1987. Scheckter was left with a reputation in tatters, his best result being 10th in the Dutch Grand Prix.
He returned home to renew his successful association with Lexington Racing, winning the Atlantic tiles in 1977-78 and 1978-79, before switching to saloon car racing with BMW South Africa's 535L.
Scheckter retired from racing and, after selling his petrol station and motorcycle businesses to help fund his son Jaki's career, spends most of his time playing golf.