THE weekend before last, motorsport fans from across the world had their eyes trained on the Autodrome Nazionale Monza, just outside Milan, for the legendary Italian Grand Prix. But of the hundreds of thousands of fans in attendance there, one man was celebrating a very special occasion.

In 1979, a South African by the name of Jody Scheckter won the race here, in front of a home crowd for his constructor Ferrari, and with it, won the World Championship. It was a race that sent the ‘Tifosi’, the name for Ferrari’s adoring fans, into raptures – Jody was the last person to win the Drivers’ Championship for Ferrari until one Michael Schumacher in 2000.

40 years later, Jody was back at Monza to celebrate the anniversary of his championship win in a weekend he describes as “magical”.

“The whole weekend was magical, it was just incredible,” he told the Gazette.

Taking his Championship-winning car out for three runs around the track, one on each day of the race weekend, Jody was serenaded by the home crowd.

“The first time I took it out, it frightened me! By the third time, I was feeling a little more comfortable.”

He was asked to take part in the event by the owners of Formula 1, with Sky Sports going along to his farm in Laverstoke to speak to the 69-year-old about his Championship winning moment.

“At that time it was really relief, because there’s so much pressure and I was trying for seven years. I’d come third twice, second once and then I’d done it. It was like ‘thank goodness it’s been done.”

The next year, he finished 19th in the Drivers’ standings and retired. He’d achieved his goal.

“I went to America and started a company making simulators to train police and military. I didn’t go to a race for ten years because I was just trying to make that thing work,” said Jody. “I was in a little flat there with no kitchen and that’s how we started.”

After success is America, he was able to buy Laverstoke Farm. It took a decade and a half to become sustainable, with Jody making losses in the meantime. “Now it’s stabled out and last year was the first year I didn’t put money in. It was a lot harder than it was in America.”

Laverstoke is set across 2,500 acres, with Jody wanting to “create a farming environment that would follow nature as closely as possible, combining 21st century science, together with the most environmentally friendly farming methods available,” according to the farm’s website.

Jody described how he loves living and working in Hampshire, and when asked what his favourite thing to do now is, Jody laughs: “Drink whiskey and light a fire outside! It’s one of my special places in the world, and the summer, I love it.

“Overton is really our town, we’re more connected to Overton, a great little town.”

His farm, as well as being his home and workplace, is the location of CarFest South. Run by Chris Evans, the festival attracted 28,000 people over the August bank holiday weekend.

“This year was absolutely the best by a long way. The music is always fantastic and there’s so many things for everyone to do, but the racing cars were really very weak, so I took that over this year.”

Amongst the attractions for petrolheads were racing cars from as early as 1904, all the way through to 1996, including 12 of Jody’s cars to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his Drivers’ Championship win. The circuit, built on the farm for CarFest, that Jody admits he takes clients out on now that the festival has finished, also saw plenty of cars throughout the weekend. But how did a South African-born racing driver meet a radio DJ that lives in Ascot?

“I met him at James Martin’s dinner, this must be probably 8 years ago. He was telling me that he wanted to do this family festival and he had so many responses, so I said ‘well you can do it on my farm’. I was probably drunk at the time. He announced it on Monday morning!”

CarFest has raised at least £1.5 million each year for children’s charities across the UK, and Jody says there’s nothing quite like it.

“Goodwood is the pinnacle of those types of events, but what we have is, first of all, its for families, and secondly it’s for charity.”