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Jody Scheckter: driven by the fear of losing




Jody Scheckter’s exploits on the Formula One (F1) circuit live on in the minds of many South Africans. Although he has gone on to become a cheese aficionado, Scheckter walked away with this year’s Arts, Science, Sports and Culture Award at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards for his 10 F1 victories in a 10-year-long career that culminated in him winning the F1 Drivers’ Championship in 1979.

The racing champion was among those honoured at the annual ceremony for his remarkable achievements, with a video outlining his accomplishments played live on Sunday evening.

“If you look at how many people try to become F1 drivers, let alone successful world champions, what Jody accomplished was extremely difficult,” said Zak Brown, the chief executive of McLaren Racing.

“Jody won with three different teams. A lot of Grand Prix drivers have success with one team at the right place at the right time. But Jody won with three. Not many Grand Prix drivers have won with multiple teams, and that tells you that his outstanding talent wasn’t car specific.”

Scheckter was born in 1950 into a car-mad family. Not being especially keen on academics, he had a single goal in mind: to become the F1 world champion. At 22, he participated in his first Grand Prix for McLaren in the United States. In 1979, he joined the Ferrari team, dominating the scene in the Monaco Grand Prix, and after scoring wins in Belgium, he secured the title of world champion in Milan, Italy.

Scheckter reflected, “It feels like such a long time ago. I was brought up in East London, was useless at school, and loved going to the workshop. My dad had a garage where he worked on cars, and he gave me a car, a second-hand Renault, to go to work and back.”

“After my first race, I did three years in South Africa [probably my most enjoyable time in all my racing], and then I went to England where I raced Formula Four and Three. McLaren offered me Formula Two, so I did that, and they gave me a F1 drive at the end of my second year.”

Scheckter subsequently came third in the world championships twice, left the team, and joined another where he came second in the world championship. A year later, he joined Ferrari, and won the championship.

“I was always motivated by the fear of losing rather than the glory of winning,” he said.

Those who know him describe his determination and grit, commending him on his receipt of the award.

“He was very aggressive in a car,” said Sir Jackie Stewart, three-time F1 champion. “I’ve known him as a friend and a competitor. As a competitor, he was a pain in the arse.

“I’m proud that he’s being recognised in this fashion. He’s a very proud South African, and he carries the flag well.”

“He’s still rough around the edges,” said Ross Brawn, the managing director at F1. “His South African heritage is still very strong within him. That commitment and dedication that he has is what has made him successful in all of his enterprises.”

Although a cheese enthusiast and manufacturer these days, Scheckter said that the next career he’s planning involves the beach.

“I still feel very much a South African, and I want to thank you all very much for honouring me,” he said.

Any F1 driver will tell you that their best win would be first place in Monza, Italy, in a Ferrari in a world championship. Only one person has ever achieved that: Jody Scheckter.

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Nominate achievers who bring us hope



Remember when you were raving about the incredible work someone in the community had done? Well, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to nominate them for the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards. You don’t have much time…

Last year, the focus was on what winners did over and beyond COVID-19 and through the toughest part of the pandemic.

This year, it’s all about hope, as we see the end of the pandemic in sight, death rates are dropping, people are vaccinated, and we are looking towards a brighter future. Who is enabling this? Who are the people who have brought us hope? Who’s bringing us hope right now, and will continue to inspire us in the future? Who are our winners?

“We are looking for those people who brought us hope in professional excellence and business leadership during these tough times,” says Howard Sackstein, the chairperson of the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards and the board of the SA Jewish Report.

“Nominate those who showed true leadership and went way beyond the call of duty when there was looting and rioting in the country as well as a spike in the pandemic numbers.”

Sackstein admits that the judges’ decisions will be tough this year as many heroes have risen to the challenges of community and country. “It’s essential to create a record of these times, and those who have stood out when life was at its most challenging,” he says.

Professor Barry Schoub last year won the Kia Community Service Award for his awesome contribution to the Jewish community through COVID-19. The emeritus professor in virology at the University of the Witwatersrand and the former director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases came out of retirement to help the community, going on to become chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 vaccines. Since his award, he has led South Africa through the process of acquiring vaccines and getting vaccinated.

Dr Mervyn Mer, who won the award for professional excellence in the time of COVID, has gone on to save many more lives from this dreaded coronavirus. He also almost singlehandedly reopened the COVID-19 ward at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital after the medical facility was closed following a fire. As the numbers of people getting desperately ill due to COVID-19 rose during the third wave, he did what he believed he needed to do to save lives.

Our other winners, Johnny Broomberg, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Liran Assness, Michael Katz, Wendy Fisher, Jody Scheckter, and Sir Sydney Kentridge have gone from strength to strength since then.

You have until the close of business on 3 September to make your nominations. Don’t wait, do it now. Go to

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Nominations are now open for Absa Jewish Achiever Awards 2021




  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has achieved iconic status within the business community.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has played a critical leadership role in business during this period.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has achieved national recognition and acclaim in their profession during this period.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has a proven track record in entrepreneurial ventures.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has served the Jewish community with remarkable distinction.


  • Honouring the leadership, success and overall contributions of distinctive Jewish women in business or in the broader South African community.

in honour of Helen Suzman

  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has contributed in an extraordinary manner over a long period of time.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has excelled in any of these spheres.

In honour of Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris

  • Awarded to a Jewish or non-Jewish person who has contributed substantially to the betterment of the lives of the people of South Africa.

To nominate visit this page.

Nominations close at 17:00 on 3 September 2021

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Build hope by reaching out and nominating



As the sun rises through the darkness of the pandemic and looting in South Africa, we begin to renew our hope for the future, and with that, we start our search to celebrate our Absa Jewish Achievers in 2021. Nominations are now open.

This year, we will celebrate on 7 November with great ‘hope’, the theme of this year’s event that so perfectly fits our growing sentiments.

The past 18 months have been so incredibly tough on our community, our country, and our world. What with more than 200 Jewish people dying from the COVID-19 pandemic in Johannesburg alone, we have really felt the coronavirus to our core.

We haven’t been able to be at loved one’s funerals, and have sat shiva alone. We have isolated from our loved ones to protect them. We have put much of our lives on hold because of this illness. Many have lost businesses and livelihoods.

But the end of this pandemic is in sight. We have “hope” again. As we vaccinate en masse, we move towards a new tomorrow.

We survived the wholesale looting and violence of the past month, and people have gone to great lengths to help each other make it through.

As a community, we work best together. We support each other, making us stronger and more resilient.

The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards is all about our community putting heads together and coming up with those unique individuals who stand head and shoulders above others.

We will pull out all the stops to celebrate our 2021 achievers on 7 November. Once again, we’ll keep it online to avoid any potential COVID-19 risks. But in so doing, we’ll bring your international fantasies to life with our annual revelry. And in so doing, we will enable far more people to participate than can fit in a large hall. Last year, we took our numbers from 1 000 to 60 000 viewers.

It’s time to look around and find those unique individuals, those gems within our community who have performed in their own areas like no other. You know who they are, and they will be given the kavod only if you nominate them for the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards. It’s up to you.

“The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards is so important as it allows us as a community to take stock and celebrate our disproportionate contribution to the people of South Africa,” says Howard Sackstein, Absa Jewish Achiever chairperson.

“It allows us to create role models for everyone to emulate as we celebrate the extraordinary. In so doing, we encourage others to find greatness in their own fields.”

Though we will once again be looking for lifetime achievers this year, a humanitarian champion, and those who have gone way beyond the call of duty for the community, we are also focusing on those who have excelled in the past year.

We want to find those outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves over this past year with its unique challenges.

We are looking for nominees in the following: women in leadership; business award; entrepreneurship; business icon; professional excellence community award winner; a lifetime achiever; a winner in sport, science and culture; and a humanitarian award winner (who doesn’t have to be Jewish).

It’s up to you to nominate these people. Without your nominations, they won’t get the acknowledgement they deserve. Although there are judges involved, we need your nominations and online participation in the public vote.

This is a communal event, focusing on our magnificent community, to find the individuals that will become icons for the rest of us. “As you all know, we work best as a community, and in this, we encourage each other to take pride in the achievements of others,” says Sackstein.

Nominations are open from today, until 17:00 on 3 September.

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