Following some impressive winter testing performances for Team Lotus, South entered the 1980 Long Beach Grand Prix for McLaren. He failed to qualify. Later in the year his career was ended when he had part of his leg amputated following a Can-Am accident.
Stephen South was born in Harrow, Middlesex, England. Best known for winning the 1976 British Formula Three Championship, he had impressed late in 1979 during winter tests at the wheel of a Lotus along with Nigel Mansell, Jan Lammers, Eddie Cheever and Elio DeAngelis. At the decisive test session at Paul Ricard, Elio was the fastest and was rewarded with a seat for 1980.
South was due to join Toleman for the 1980 European Formula Two season but when they found out that he had been secretly testing an F1 car with McLaren, he was sacked, being replaced by Brian Henton who went on the win the Championship.
Two mechanical breakages in South Africa in 1980 resulted in Prost braking his wrist which kept him out of Long Beach. South was thus drafted in for the United States Grand Prix West with McLaren however he failed to qualify the Cosworth-powered M29C.
His career was abruptly ended on August 9th that year when he suffered an accident driving the Paul Newman Lola in qualifying for a round of the Can-Am series at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota, which resulted in the amputation of part of one of his legs.