Travelling overseas to pursue what one really wants did not come as easy in the sixties as it comes now. It was not easy for Alan Jones either. Son of Stan Jones, the 1959 Australian Grand Prix winner, Jones was born on November 2, 1946 in Melbourne, Australia. Influenced by his father, he always wanted to be a race driver. So in 1967 as a 21-year-old, he moved to Europe to explore the world of motor racing.
Success as it is known is rarely achieved painlessly and for Jones it took a good six years before he got his racing chance. He was offered full-time driving position at Formula Atlantic, a Formula Three racing team in 1974. In the following year, he got a free ride into Formula One when Formula Atlantic bought Hesketh engines to race in its first year. To his chagrin, the team signed off from F1 after a meager four races. Graham Hill’s racing team mange to relieve his career and he finished fifth in one of the four races he appeared in.
By 1976, Jones was racing for John Surtees’ team, famous for its Durex sponsorship. He seemed pretty consistent with the TS19 car and ended within points for a good part of the season. Relationship with Surtees soured which saw him departing the team and out in the cold once again. In 1977, the Shadow Racing team came to his rescue when Tom Pryce lost his life in a freak accident in South Africa. He delivered the results for his new employer and won his first race in the Austrian Grand Prix. He was also on podium in third place in Italy and did well to finish seventh in the Drivers’ Championship.
Impressed with his driving, Frank Williams, the Williams Racing team boss chose Jones as his driver for the 1978 edition of Formula One. Although he could not take the team to the top, he performed well as he finished second in the United States Grand Prix and 11th in the Drivers’ Championship considering the struggle the team had been through in the previous season. In 1979, Jones proved his mettle and raced the FW07 engine to four victories, three of which were consecutive Grands Prix that took him to third position in the drivers’ standings.
With 67 points, 10 podium finishes and five victories, Jones brought the 1980 World Championship title for Williams. However, his achievement would have been more cherishing if the Australian Grand Prix that was a non-championship event and the Spanish Grand Prix that was not counted would have been credited too. But that just proved how convincingly he had usurped Nelson Piquet’s limelight beating him by 13 points. An intense rivalry with Carlos Reutemann cost Jones his second consecutive championship title in 1981 when he finished third behind both Reutemann and Piquet. Nonetheless his six podium finishes were rendered brilliant by one and all.
Jones retired from the sport after the 1981 season but like every sportsperson has to kill the restless competitive beast within, Jones somehow had to douse the fire inside him and so he drove in one race for the Arrows team in 1983 that yielded no success. To put an end to this desperation, he appeared for the newly formed Team Hass in the 1985 and the 1986 editions of Formula One Championship. After he was convinced he had no more hunger left in him he retired for good.
A characteristically hard working Australian, Jones chiseled out his career with alacrity and deep passion for the sport to become a champion.