With 27 Grand Prix victories and 3 world championships under his belt, Jackie Stewart has proven his skill over and over again in the racing world. But proving himself in the academic world turned out to be a much harder challenge. Stewart is severely dyslexic and remained undiagnosed until he was 41 years old.

School was a trying time for Stewart. He struggled with reading even the simplest of sentences, referring to a book page as “a mass of indecipherable letters.” As the frustration and feeling of humiliation continued, Stewart took to avoiding school. He would devise reasons to stay home, from stomach aches to sore limbs to the flu. Stewart writes in an article that “Every aspect of my life seemed to be defined by apparent lack of intelligence.” By the time he entered middle school, Stewart knew he had to change his self-deprecating mindset. Although he lacked talent academically, Stewart knew he had more knowledge about cars than any of his friends. He used the activities he excelled in to motivate him to improve his school work. Stewart learned how to approach classes in ways that made sense to him. He did assignments differently than assigned, and knew because of his interest in cars that information stuck in his brain when he could pay attention to the details.

Even into his success as a Formula 1 race car driver, Stewart struggled with his dyslexia. Upon receiving a trophy, he would have to partake in the singing of the national anthem onstage - only he could never learn the words. Instead, Stewart trained himself to recite the words a fraction of a second behind everyone else. It was easier for him to decipher and recite the spoken words of those around him than work through the written lyrics.

Knowing every gear shift and car maneuver tactic for every race he’s been in, but being unable to recite the entire alphabet made Stewart feel inadequate in the adult world despite his countless victories. It wasn’t until his own son was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia that Stewart understood where his struggles stemmed from. Since his diagnosis, Stewart has spoken and written articles about his own experience with the learning disability, even writing an autobiography that addresses his lack of confidence as a student.

Click here to read an excerpt from Jackie Stewart’s autobiography about his trials with dyslexia.