Tomas Scheckter


Record updated 21-Sep-07

Son of 1979 Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter. After being dropped by the Jaguar F1 team in 2001 he went to the USA where he races in the IRL

Tomas Scheckter
Tomas Scheckter was born in Monte Carlo though he is South African. Currently competing in the Indy Racing League and the A1 Grand Prix series. He is the son of 1979 Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter and the nephew of racer Ian Scheckter.

Scheckter started racing karts in South Africa at the age of 11 and it did not take long for the young driver to reach the podium. He had his first taste of a major championship as a teenager when he captured the South African Kart Championship in 1995. In 1996 he ventured on to the main circuit in the South African Formula Vee series and soon after he was in the South African Formula Ford Series where he posted two wins.

He had proven his speed in South African motorsports and was then off to Europe the following year where he entered the British Formula Vauxhall Junior series where he raced against the likes of Antônio Pizzonia and Takuma Sato. Scheckter earned third in the championship with one victory and one pole. He was also named series Rookie of the Year.

In 1999 Scheckter won the Formula Opel Euroseries championship with a record eight victories and eight poles, and in the process broke all the winning records previously set by Mika Häkkinen, Rubens Barrichello, and David Coulthard. That success landed him a drive that same year in the last two races of the Formula Nissan championship which Fernando Alonso had dominated that whole season. Even though Scheckter was with a new team for this brief stint in Formula Nissan, he captured a win, two poles and a second place position.

Scheckter moved on to the Formula 3 Series in 2000, and in his rookie year, he was the runner-up in the British Formula Three Championship with two victories and two pole positions, while contending again with drivers such as Sato and Pizzonia. He also had time to race in the prestigious Marlboro Masters F3 race at Zandvoort where he took the third podium position. To complete his year, he competed in the final four races of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship, finishing second at Hockenheim behind future IRL teammate Tomáš Enge.[1]

After being fired from his testing role with the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team in 2001 for kerb crawling, he raced in the Open Telefonica by Nissan, finishing as championship runner-up.

Tomas was signed to drive for Eddie Cheever's Red Bull Cheever Racing for the 2002 IRL season. He was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the year after leading 85 laps of the race. However, Cheever soon grew tired of Scheckter's frequent crashes, and looked to replace him with Buddy Rice. At Michigan International Speedway, Cheever was forced to race Scheckter due to contractual obligations, but gave Rice the best equipment and crew. In a memorable race, Scheckter beat Rice by inches for his first IRL win, while team owner Cheever crashed out. However, he was soon gone from Team Red Bull.

In 2003 he moved to Target Ganassi Racing with mixed results, often being criticized for his inconsistency and frequency of crashing, finishing well behind title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon.

In 2004 he moved to Panther Racing to replace double champion Sam Hornish, Jr.. In 2004 and 2005 Scheckter and Panther were the dominant Chevrolet powered team, greatly outpacing other teams powered by what many considered the weakest engine in the series. Scheckter broke through a horrendous string of bad luck, defeating Sam Hornish Jr. to win the Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2005 for his second career IRL victory.

In mid-2005, Scheckter was announced as one of the drivers for A1 Team South Africa in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series. He raced in the rounds at EuroSpeedway Lausitz and Estoril.

In 2006, Scheckter drove for Tony George and Patrick Dempsey's Vision Racing alongside teammate Ed Carpenter and finished 10th in points.

In 2007 Scheckter is again racing for Vision Racing sponsored by Joost. The South African is one of the few drivers this year to challenge the Team Penske, Andretti Green Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers on a regular basis during races, on occasion leading the race.