Jim Clark (4/3/1936 - 7/4/1968):The Flying ScotWritten by Αναστάσιος Ίσαρης
Translated by Athanasios Rizos
When the God of speed stepped in earth…
Jim Clark was born in 4th of March 1936 in a farm in Kilmany, Fife of Scotland near to the Scottish – English border and he was the youngest and the only male child of a rural family with 5 children.
His parents were sheep breeders and totally against the idea of any little Jim’s involvement in motorsport.
However, the husband of his older sister was a local race driver and introduced the youngster to the ‘’magic’’.
He had to wait until he was 17 to get his first car (a Sunbeam Talbot) and take place secretly in his first rally races and hillclimbs.
From his very first race everyone was staring strangely at him, as he was competing all the local champions.
A wealthy Farmer, Ian Scott-Watson, was the first one to encourage him to continue and he created the Border Motor Racing Club-Reivers to raise money for his support.
Meanwhile, he continued to impress with a DKW Sonderclasse that he had borrowed from a friend.
Two years later, the mentioned above local club Border-Reivers, provided him a Jaguar D type 12 with which he participated in various national events and had 12 victories in 20 races, as well as a Porsche 1600 that gave him another 6 victories.
However, his milestone race was on the Boxing Day of 1958 at Brands Hatch, when he finished 2nd behind Colin Chapman, while driving a Lotus Elite in a 10-lap GT race.
The great Colin immediately realized that he had a rough natural talent and immediately suggested him to take a ride with one of his cars that he intended to use in the newly founded Formula Junior category which was about to start on March of 1960.
The former driver Reg Parnell on behalf of Aston Martin made to the 22-year-old guy an unbelievable offer, though; driver in the planned entry of the company in F1.
Aston Martin eventually did not participate and the offer did not become a reality.
So, Clark raced in Formula Junior: first race and of course first win ahead of John Surtees (a then famous rider with 3 championships in 350cc -1956, 1958, 1960 and 4 in 500cc -1956, 1958, 1959, 1960) and future F1 champion in 1964) with a Cooper BMC.
He was also ahead of the promising youngster Trevor Taylor, his fellow team-mate in Lotus.
Jimmy grabbed the chance to race in F1 in 1960 when John Surtees, the official F1 driver of Lotus, was unable to participate in Zandvoort because he wanted to participate in the famous motorbike race of Isle of Man and Jimmy took his place, driving a Lotus 18, starting 11th and reaching the 5th place before retiring due to transmission failure in the 42nd lap.
It is easy to understand that from that point he never lost the position in Lotus.
The next race in Spa was probably the most devastating in F1 history.
In the practice sessions Sir Stirling Moss broke both his legs and Mike Taylor, on his debut with Lotus, was so heavily injured that his F1 career was finished.
During the race, Clark started 9th and he faced the horror when 2 compatriot drivers, were killed.
The first one was the 22-year-old Chris Bristow in only his 4th race, that was exactly in front of him with a Brabham T51 in turn Malmedy (his blood sprayed Clark’s car).
The second one was the 26-year-old driver Alan Stacey who was Clark’s teammate using a Lotus 18 Climax in his 7th race.
The latter was hit by a bird in the face while approaching turn Masta Kink and he crashed outside the track.
Both of them were ejected from their cars and one was found horribly amputated and the other one with broken neck.
Jimmy finally finished 5th in his 2nd race.
He finished in the same position in his 3rd race in Reims, France, starting 12th whereas in his 5th race (Portugal) he had his first crash in the trials but he started the race in 8th place and finished 3rd.
His 10th place in the final standings was totally imaginary, due to the boycott of Lotus, BRM και Cooper in the shameful race in Monza (where only privateers and F2 cars took part in), that was changed on purpose by the Italians (including a part of the old oval track) so as Ferrari, that until then had no victory, to win – which was finally done, with a 1-2-3 finish.
Ferrari did not even bother to compete in the last race of the season in Riverside, California.
Clark started 5th but he retired in the 61st lap.
In 1961, with Lotus 21 and Stirling Moss as his teammate, he did not enjoy a successful year, which started with his 2nd accident in the qualifying session of Monaco GP.
However, he proved his talent with his performance at Zandvoort when he started 11th, finished 3rd and made the fastest lap in the first race with no retirements.
He finished also 3rd in France (Reims) starting from 9th place.
In the 22,8 km Nurburgring he started 8th and finished 4th.
In Monza (of 10km length) that followed, Clark had the most dramatic race of his life.
He started as an arrow and, in the middle of the second lap was about to overtake Wolfgang von Trips, who was the poleman and the championship leader.
However at Parabolica, his front right wheel contacted with the rear left of the German’s Ferrari that did not check on his left because he was not expecting an attack at that part of the track.
As a result, the German’s car was ejected above the barriers and land over the spectators killing 15 of them, as well as Von Trips.
It is till today one of the most tragic days in motorsport history, alongside some other events (In Argentina, 1953, 13 spectators died, in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans there were 84 victims, in the 1957 Mille Miglia 11 and in the Cuban race of 1958, 7).
It was the third accident Jim had in F1.
That year he finished the championship in the 7th place scoring 11 points against the 3rd Stirling Moss (21) and the champion Phill Hill (34).
After the race, devastated by Von Trips’ death, decided to withdraw from F1 even though no one blamed him.
Colin Chapman had to convince him in order not to follow his decision.
In parallel, that year he won another 4 non-championship F1 races.
In 1962, Jimmy’s star began shining with the new Lotus 25 (the first car with a monocoque chassis).
Trevor Taylor was his new teammate because one month before the start of the championship, Stirling Moss had the accident that made him retire from racing.
At Zandvoort he started 3rd but immediately raised up to first place and stayed there until he faced problems with his clutch.
He finally finished 9th completing 70 out of the 80 laps.
In the wet Monaco, he won his first pole.
During the race, after being blocked due to an accident in the 1st lap, fell in the 6th position, but easily raised up in a few laps to the 2nd place behind Graham Hill, when he faced again problems with his clutch and retired.
Next race was the 14.1 km Spa which was the most dangerous race in that era and Jimmy did not like at all.
However, in this track he created his myth by taking his first victory.
At the qualifying session, the engine’s camshaft broke, demolishing pistons and valves and he just managed to qualify for the race, starting from the 12th position.
In the end of the 1st lap he was 4th, in the 8th lap was 2nd and in the 9th lap was 1st, finishing the race with the fastest lap and 44’’ ahead of Graham Hill and 2’6’’ of Phil Hill, the reigning champion.
A sad Eugenio Dragoni (the team manager of Ferrari) called Enzo to say:
“Your champion could not do anything against that young daemon’’.
At the next race (Rouen, France) he started from pole but he retired in the 33rd lap (out of 54) due to a suspension failure.
Next race was held in Aintree, G Britain, where things were very easy for Jimmy: he did his first hat trick (pole-win-fastest lap), finishing 49’’ ahead of Surtees.
At Nurburgring, he was 3rd in the qualifying but at the start he forgot to open the electric switches of the fuel pumps and eventually started 8th.
In the 8th lap (out of 15) he was 4th, finishing in this place.
At Monza, he had the pole and started first but Graham Hill’s BRM was more powerful and in the end of the first lap Graham overtook Jimmy.
In the 12th lap (out of 56) he retired facing gearbox problems.
The F1 “circus” continued in Watkins Glen, USA with the absence of Ferrari because the manufacturers’ championship was already won.
Jimmy had the pole but Graham Hill with his more powerful BRM overtook him in the 12th lap.
Americans were thrilled by his “silky” driving and by his brave overtaking on Hill (19th lap out of 100) that gave him the victory.
Hill was the only one that Jimmy did not manage to lap.
That race’s final result meant that in the last race of the season in South Africa, if Clark won with Hill 2nd they would tie and Clark would win the championship with 4 wins against Hill’s 3.
We remind that in the championship only 5 results out of 9 races were counting.
After three months, the last race was held at the East London circuit, where 90.000 spectators were eagerly waiting for the new champion.
Jimmy had the pole and Hill was next to him.
In the start of the race, drivers and spectators were amazed by the easiness that he was moving away from the powerful BRM, creating in 20 laps a 13” gap.
But, in the 57th lap his engine started smoking due to an oil leakage and he eventually had to go to the pits to add oil in the 62nd lap (out of 82).
He returned into the track in the 1st position but in the last lap his engine blew off.
Graham Hill with BRM was the winner of the race and the champion while unlucky Jimmy was comforted with the fastest lap of the race.
In 1963, again with Lotus 25, he gained the recognition with such an absolute way that he frightened both his friends and his enemies…
The 6 best results out of the 10 races in total were counting for the championship and the shy Scottish farmer boy achieved 7 wins, a 2nd position, a 3rd and a retirement.
All of them were accompanied by 7 pole positions and 5 fastest laps.
At the Monaco GP, he had the pole but the more powerful BRMs of Graham Hill and Richie Ginther turned ahead of him in the start.
The next laps of the race were devastating for both of them because Jimmy was 2nd in the 5th lap and first in the 18th and was getting away from them until the 78th lap (out of 100) when his gearbox “locked the gears” and he had to retire.
Next race was the wet Spa where he wrote history.
After problems with his gearbox in the qualifying he started the race in 8th.
His start in the wet track was so marvelous that he was directly in the first place.
In the 17th lap (out of 32) a big storm broke out accompanied by dense fog and at that point he proved that his superiority in such weather conditions was multiple times better compared to the other drivers.
The end of the race found him 4’ 53” ahead of the 2nd Bruce McLaren and the rest were more than one lap behind, scoring the biggest time difference between the winner and the 2nd in the official history of Formula 1.
It was his 2nd victory at this circuit and everyone was talking in awe for the “ghost of Spa”.
Zandvoort was next where he had the pole together with another personal record.
The only driver that he did not lap in the race was…himself!
In the race of Reims where the organizers made grievous mistakes at the start in favor of Hill, Jimmy had the pole and he finally finished the race 1’ 5” ahead of Tony Maggs with Cooper.
At Silverstone in front of a huge crowd, despite starting first, he was 5th after the start but in the 4th round he had already passed everyone and disappeared.
In the end only Surtees and Hill were not lapped.
During the last 4 races he created an unprecedented record…he led the 244 of the 247 total laps!
At Nurburgring he started first but in the first turn his engine had a problem so Surtees with the Ferrari 156 overtook him.
However, the indomitable Scottish continued fighting despite his problem and he managed to finish the race in 2nd place, almost 1.5 minutes behind the winner.
In that race, the Belgian Willy Mairesse with another Ferrari 156 had a very bad exit in Flugplatz turn, killing a bearer and breaking completely his hand, putting thus an end to his career.
At Monza, Ferrari had been encouraged after the previous win in Germany after almost 2 year and Surtees won the pole in front of the tifosi.
Clark started 3rd, but in the first laps of the race after glorious fight…he vanished into thin air winning the race more than 1.5 minutes ahead of Richie Ginther with a BRM P57, that was the only driver not lapped.
Next race was hosted at Watkins Glen and this time Graham Hill took a mighty pole, while Jimmy was 2nd.
Just before the start of the race the car’s battery had a problem and he started the race from the last place.
The race was really magnificent with a continuous rotation of the first place between Hill, Ginther with BRM, Surtees with Ferrari and Dan Gurney with Brabham, but everyone was staring to the Jimmy Clark that was already the new champion and he rewarded them with an incredible driving show finishing the race in the 3rd place one lap behind the winner Graham Hill.
At the Mexico City circuit he just won everything.
His final gap from Jack Brabham and Richie Ginther, that were the only ones not being lapped, was over 1.5 minute.
In that race he matched Fangio’s record of 6 victories in a year.
Finally, at East London, South Africa, Jimmy had the pole and despite for a while Brabham was first, he passed him easily and, as usual, he disappeared finishing the race more than 1 minute ahead of the 2nd Dan Gurney that was again the only driver...not being lapped.
Thus, he made a new record of 7 victories in 10 races.
In 1964 his new teammates were firstly Peter Arundell and later Mike Spence.
At the Monaco GP, driving an old Lotus 25, he had the pole and as usual he disappeared ahead of all, when a rear anti-roll bar broke and crawled at the track.
It took to this incredible driver only one lap to adjust his driving style and continue the race in a competitive pace.
His engineer Dick Scammel remembers that when Jimmy passed from the place that there were the pits of the team, he raised his thumb making the signal that everything was “ok” ahead of his dazed engineers…with sparks coming from the back of the car.
Colin Chapman in order to avoid a possible black flag, called him in the pits to make a rough repair and when he returned in the track he was still 3rd.
He stoically stood out the behavior of the car driving at full speed until 4 laps before the end of the race (and while he was in the 2nd place having the suspension almost broken), when he had to retire and finish at the 4th place.
Zandvoort was next - there, again with the Lotus 25, he started 2nd but immediately took the first place and he won 1 minute ahead of John Surtees, who once again was the only driver in the same lap.
The same happened at Spa but with the new Lotus 33 that in the qualifying did not seem competitive presenting lots of “youth problems” and he started 6th.
In Jimmy’s hands, however, these things were of minor importance and at the end of the 1st lap he was 3rd fighting with Graham Hill for the 2nd place, but in the 28th lap he was forced to enter the pits to fill water in the coolant of his car.
Returning back in 3rd on track, he was lucky when his biggest rivals (Gurney, Hill, McLaren) ran out of petrol, with the latter finishing with the engine off 1.6 seconds behind Clark that was the winner.
A few hundred meters later he also ran out of petrol!
This was his 2nd consecutive victory in this race.
At Rouen, France, he had the pole and stayed ahead of Dan Gurney until the 31st lap (out of 57) when he retired due to engine failure, from the leadership.
It was Brands Hatch’s turn and Jimmy had a new teammate, Mike Spence, after the very serious injury of Peter Arundell during a F2 race.
Having had the pole, Jimmy started ahead of everyone, won the race and made the fastest lap 3 seconds ahead of Hill.
At Nurburgring, he started 2nd and retired due to engine failure in the 7th out the 15 laps while he was first.
The race was marked by the loss of the Dutch aristocrat-driver Carel Godin de Beaufort in a Porsche 718 during the free practice, as he got out of the track, hit a tree and was killed.
At Zeltweg, Austria, he started 3rd and from the first turn he had problems with the gear shifter and was forced to change gears only when this was possible.
Thus, he fell into 5th.
If another driver was in his place he would have retired but not this stumbling pilot who drove magically and took the 2nd place after passing Bandini (who later won the race) in the 9th lap.
He started approaching the first place that Dan Gurney was keeping until his gear shifter broke in his hand and only then he retired.
For the history books it was the one and only victory of Lorenzo Bandini at the wheels of a Ferrari 156.
At Monza, he started 4th and retired in the 27th lap out of 78.
At Watkins Glen he had the pole, in the start he fell down in 4th place but in the 13th lap was already first driving furiously until lap 40 where ignition problems in his car closed the gap that he had created.
Lotus designed to bring to the pits both of their drivers so as to swap cars in an effort to defend their title and despite Jimmy was now driving Lotus 33 (instead of Lotus 25 that he had started the race) and was in the last places, he attacked and reached the 2nd place.
He was also about to catch Hill who was first but a problem in the fuel pump ended his heroic race at the 102nd lap (out of 110).
Americans were deeply impressed by the pilot who broke the competition with two different cars even if he eventually retired.
The season ended in Mexico City and Jimmy wanted only the victory to win the championship.
During the qualifying he “scared” everybody by being 1’ faster than 2nd Dan Gurney.
At the race he simply disappeared…so far until the 58th lap (out of 65) when his Nemesis (engine oil leakage) appeared again draining slowly his hopes for the title just as his engine did due to lack of oil one lap before the end of the race.
He finished 5th one lap behind Gurney who was the winner and the title went unexpectedly to the Ferrari man, John Surtees.
That year only 6 best results out of 10 races were counting and despite his 3 victories against the 2 of Graham Hill and John Surtees, lack was not on his side.
In the final standings he was 3rd with 32 points versus Hill (39) and Surtees (40).
As much deprived he was in 1964, the opposite happened in 1965.
His superiority was so huge that it was causing only awe.
No one could explain how he managed to drive that gently and in the same time on the limits of the car and be usually at least 1” per lap faster than all the other drivers regardless of the car and the race conditions.
As for his driving skills in rain, his superiority was chaotic.
No comments about the South Africa’s race as he did a hat trick (pole, victory, fastest lap).
It is remarkable that by mistake the organizers showed him the checkered flag 1 lap before the end but he, fortunately, ignored them and completed the last lap.
In Monaco, he decided not to participate because he wanted to race in Indianapolis that was held on the same day.
So he missed the chance to win this race that was the only one he had not won yet.
At the wet Spa he started behind Graham Hill but he passed him before the end of the first lap showing that he was unbeatable in wet conditions.
Note that he led the three quarters of the race with one hand because he was continuously holding the gear knob to prevent it from putting the neutral.
This “detail” became known by a journalist after his death because Jimmy did not want self-promotion.
Still, he took the victory almost 1” ahead of Jackie Stewart and also the fastest lap.
It was his 4th consecutive win in that race.
At Clermont-Ferrand he did a hat trick 27” ahead of Stewart.
At Silverstone he had the pole, built a huge gap from Hill, but in the final laps his engine started misfiring – this did not prevent him from another win, just 3” ahead of Hill who had the fastest lap.
It was his 4th consecutive winat his home circuit and the only time that the first 5 positions were occupied by British drivers.
At Zandvoort he qualified 2ndand in the start he fell back 3rd, but in the 5th lap took the first place and won 8” ahead of Stewart , achieving another fastest lap.
In Nurburgring he was poleman, more than 3” ahead of Stewart and in the race not only disappeared from the other drivers but tried and succeeded in something unbelievable: to try and break in each lap the record of the previous one until the end of the race.
He stopped it only when his team begged him to do so and he just won 16” ahead of Hill winning also the championship with an absolute record of 6 wins (for that year the 6 best results out of 10 races in total were counting).
At Monza he had he pole and the much more powerful BRM P261 of Hill and Stewart were stuck behind him.
The tifosi enjoyed a spectacular race with continuous slipstreaming until the 63rd lap (out of 76) when Jimmy retired due to fuel pump failure.
It was the first win for Jackie Stewart in only his 8th race.
It was Watkins Glen’s turn where he started behind Graham Hill.
In the 2nd lap he overtook him but in the 5th lap Hill retook the lead.
In the 12th lap (out of 110) he retired due to engine problems.
At Mexico City he had the pole but immediately faced an engine problem and retired in the 9th lap (out of 65).
In conclusion, in all his 6 wins in 1965 he was first from the start until the end of each race creating an unsurpassed record by any pilot.
6 pole positions and 6 fastest laps enchained his triumph that year.
In 1966 the regulations were completely changed and the engines were 3-litre regardless the number of the cylinders.
Some teams were “caught in bed” and among them Lotus, which would use the old Climax engines (V8 with 244hp).
BRM with Stewart and Hill had the 3-litre Η16 with 400hp, Ferrari their own 12-cylinder 3-litre (360hp), Brabham the reliable 3-litre V8 of the Australian Repco (315 hp), and Cooper the old 3-liter V12 of Maserati with 360hp.
The season began in Monaco where Jimmy with the 2-litre car of 1965 took the pole and made all the others…wonder what happened.
In the start of the race, though, he faced a problem with his gearbox, struggled to keep the 5th place until the 60th lap that he retired due to suspension failure.
For the stats, only 4 cars finished that race.
At Spa, the new Lotus-BRM 43 was presented but only in the hands of Peter Arundell.
Lots of problems in the engine forced Jimmy to start 10th.
When the race started a storm broke out and everyone except him spun off, but he could not take advantage of it, because he retired in the first lap due to an engine problem.
Graham Hill’s great action deserves a note: he did not face any damage after his spin, however he stopped and abandoned the race to help his teammate Jackie Stewart who rolled over and was trapped under his car.
His shoulder and flanks were broken and he could not move, so it was a miracle that he was saved before spilled petrol caught fire.
Only 5 cars, out of the 7 that did not face a retire from the spin in the start, finished the race.
At the qualifying session of Reims, Jimmy was hit in the face by a bird, was injured in the eye and did not participate in the race.
At Brands Hatch, Jimmy, with the 2-litre engine of Lotus 33, started 5th and made a pit stop to change brake pads.
He got out of the pits in the last place and by making a –widely believed- fabulous race over his compatriots he overtook even the 3-litre Cooper Maserati of Surtees and Rindt and finished the race in 4th place.
At Zandvoort he started 3rd and took the 2nd place giving another show against the 3-litre beasts.
In the 27th lap he made a magic move passing Brabham and started making a gap, make the viewers wonder if what was happening was true or a dream.
In the 76th lap out of 90, his Lotus started suffering from engine vibrations that eventually cracked the water pump.
Despite the inevitable pit stop to add water in the radiator, he finised 3rd managing to stay in front of Stewart, 2 laps behind Jack Brabham who won the race.
Everyone bowed to his horrific ability to challenge more powerful (from 70 to 150hp) and against great drivers.
At the demanding Nurburgring it was quite clear how big was the role of the driver during those years.
Jimmy gave yet another example of his great value – always with the old engine- by winning the pole.
But, this time, in the race he was defeated by his mighty rivals and fell to the 5th place.
Trying to close the gap in the 13th round (out of 15) he made his 4th and last mistake in his career.
He got off the track and crashed but he was not injured.
Unfortunately someone else was not so lucky, because this very fast and wet race was marked by the collision of John Taylor with Jackie Ickx’s Matra MS5 and as a result Taylor’s Brabham-BRM caught fire creating horrible burns on the driver who died in the hospital one month later.
The announcement of Clark’s retirement gathered a crown of journalists because it was such a rare thing.
But they kept waiting for him with no result because he remained next to his car to study the angle that he had while getting off the track.
When the team after the race sent a track to collect what was left from the car, the engineers were surprised watching this humble man helping them to load it on the track and then sitting with them without conceit.
How would it be possible not to win the worship and respect from everyone?
At Monza, Clark had finally the H16 BRM engine in the new Lotus-BRM 43 and was 3rd in qualifying.
But the engine did not help him in the race.
So he was continuously losing positions until he retired due to a gearbox problem in the 58th lap.
At Watkins Glen some problems with the very complex new engine, made him start 2nd (0.1” gap from Brabham).
The night before the race they…borrowed a new engine (it needed 6 people to lift it) that had not been tested and Jimmy used it for the race.
The engine (as well as the suspension) this time lasted and although he was 4th in the first laps he made a great victory lapping all the other drivers, despite the usual phenomenon of engine oil leakage.
It was his first win that year and also the one and only of BRM’s 16-cylinder engine.
Shots from that race were used by John Frakenheimer and actor James Garner for the movie Grand Prix.
The money prize for the winning team reached $20,000, a huge amount for that time.
Finally, in Mexico, he started again 2nd but retired due to gearbox failure in 9th lap.
Despite the fact that, in 5 out of the 8 races that he participated he had the weaker 2-litre engine, he managed to score the 6th place in the championship.
That year, it was proved by the most convincing way that a drivers could make the difference, regardless of the car.
In 1967, driving a Lotus 43 and accompanied by his new teammate Graham Hill, he faced again engine problems at Kyalami, starting 3rd in a race that Ferrari and McLaren did not participate.
In Monaco, he tried with the old 33 but the same happened.
Starting from 5th , he retired in 42nd lap doing a fastest lap record.
In the 82nd lap of that race, Lorenzo Bandini rolled and was trapped under his Ferrari 312 that caught fire and died 3 days later in the hospital.
At Zandvoort the long-awaited Ford Cosworth DFV engine showed up and was put on the especially designed Lotus 49.
Jimmy had problems in the qualifying with the new engine and started 8th.
He eventually passed everyone and won the race 25” ahead of Jack Brabham, achieving the first victory and fastest lap of this legendary engine in its first race.
At Spa he took the pole…3 seconds ahead of the second Dan Gurney, but in the race he had to change sparks and finally took the 6th place.
In that race, Mike Parks with Ferrari who had replaced Bandini, slipped on the oils of Stewart’s BRM and crashed with multiple fractures on his legs, broken wrist and a serious hit in the head that ended his career as a F1 driver.
In the race of France, that was held in Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans (with only 20.000 spectators) he started 4th.
In the 5th lap, he was first ahead his teammate that had the pole but finally retired in the 24th lap (out of 80) due to transmission failure.
At Silverstone, Clark was stubborn due to his lack of fortune until then, took the pole 1” ahead of Hill and in the race he was passed by Hill in the 26th lap but in the 55th he was first again and finished the races 13” ahead of the 2nd Denny Hulme.
At Nurburgring, he took again the pole almost…10” seconds ahead of Denny Hulme and no one could believe what was happening.
In the race he had a very good pace but unfortunately in the 4th lap (out of 15) he slowed down and retired due to a transmission failure.
Canada was next, at Mosport Park: Clark and Hill locked the front row in the qualifying and in the race Jimmy was first but he faced engine cuts due to problematic ignition that was exacerbated by the huge humidity and in the 22nd lap he was 3rd.
When the track dried, he took the first place in the 58th lap.
Rain, though, started again creating again the problems in his engine that blew off in the 68th lap (out of 90) and he retired while being first.
In Monza, where slipstreaming was famous, Jimmy did his best race ever.
It was no surprise that he won the pole, although he faced engine problems.
In the start he was 4th but in the end of the 3rd lap was again first, fighting with Denny Hulme, when he was forced to pit with a chopped tire and when he came back he was last, one lap behind.
What followed, was something that the lucky spectators would never see again.
While driving greatly and passing everyone with every possible way (including an effective use of slipstreaming, he tied his pole time (1:28.5).
He took again the first place in the start of the last (68th) lap when, according to some people he had a problem with his fuel pump and according to others he ran out of petrol due to his big effort (which is the most probable) and finished the raced with the engine off 23” behind of John Surtees and Jack Brabham, facing deification and applause from the tifosi.
At Watkins Glen, the manufacturers championship was already won by Brabham Repco while the drivers was an internal battle between Brabham and Hulme.
The two Lotus drivers were in the front row with Hill ahead of Clark.
In the race, Jimmy firstly was 3rd behind Gurney but then he started his attack and no one could stop him.
In the 41st lap (out of 108) he was first and disappeared but suddenly, only 2 laps before the end, his suspension collapsed.
Since he was not fighting for the championship he could have retired but he did not.
As if it was a natural thing, he adjusted automatically his driving style and in front of a general admiration of everyone he won the race 6” ahead of Hill with no any other driver in the same lap.
In the last race of the season, held at Mexico City, Jimmy had again the pole but in the start Gurney hit him in the back and warped his exhaust.
He fell in 3rd position but immediately started his attack by passing Amon’s Ferrari 312 and also Hill and created a gap when his clutch stopped working.
He continued as if there was no problem by changing gears using the hearing and won, 1.5 minutes ahead of Brabham who was the only driver not lapped.
The championship of that year went to Denny Hulme despite the fact that Clark was 3rd but had double the amount of victories (4 vs 2) against the two first drivers.
Despite his reasonable bitterness, in the podium of the last race (Mexico) he made a move that proved that besides a great driver he was also a great person.
He called Hulme that was in the 3rd place to share the crown of the victory.
Denny Hulme, although discontented and reluctant, finally accepted it while the excited crowd applauded them.
1968 started with Lotus having solved the problems of their cars, which left no doubt who would be the star of that year.
Clark, with Hill again as his team-mate, confirmed it from the inaugural race at Kyalami, South Africa.
He was ahead of his teammate 1” in the qualifying.
In the start of the race, Stewart turned first but in the 2nd lap Jimmy passed him and disappeared finishing the race 25” ahead of Hill and achieving the hat trick.
However, the race was marked by Ludovico Scarfiotti’s painful burns when his Cooper Maserati had a coolant leak that burned the unfortunate pilot.
Especially for Jimmy, it was remarkable that, it was his 11th time to make the hat trick (pole, win, fastest lap) in a GP, in a percentage of 15.28% out of his total races.
No one could imagine that this victory was his swan song in Formula 1 (also Mike Spence’s one with BRM that was killed in the free practice of Indianapolis 500 some months later).
The next race was about to be held in Spain…4.5 months later.
In April 7, 1968 while initially he was about to race in the sports cars race BOAC 1000 in Brands Hatch, he preferred to take part in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim together with all the famous drivers of F1.
In the 5th lap of the first race and away from spectators the fatal accident happened.
The only witness of the fatal accident was a marshall who stated that his car suddenly moved left, gone off the track, rolled in the air and pinned on a tree.
Jimmy was immediately killed with a fractured skull and broken neck.
2 hours later, the 80.000 spectators were informed by the loudspeakers about the sad news.
All of his colleagues excluded the possibility of a driving error and, after several months, investigators concluded that a rear tire puncture was the cause of the accident.
Derek Bell, who was following Jimmy, stated the theory that, the engine suddenly stopped by the mechanical tracking unit that was connected to him and left the car without control at a speed of 160 miles.
He was just 32 years and 34 days old.
The 1968 championship ended up with Graham Hill and he made a magnificent move when he gathered all the Lotus team around him and they raised altogether the trophy, dedicating it thus to his teammate.
To their honor, all the other drivers agreed to this dedication to late Jimmy.
Participations in other forms of racing:
Tasman Series Cup
These series were named after their venue (4 races in Australia and another 4 in New Zealand) in the first two months of each year, with all the known drivers participating in older Formula 1 cars.
In 1965, won the series with 4 victories, a 2nd place and a retirement in 7 races.
In 1967, he won again with 3 victories and 3 2nd places in 6 races.
In 1968 (from January 6 until the 4th of March) he was again the winner (4 victories, a second a 5th place and 2 retirements in 8 races).
In 1963, the Americans enthusiastically welcomed the…strange Europeans, the mid-engine car (a longer Lotus 29 to fit the Ford 4.2 engine), that came to compete against the unbeatable (till then) front-engine cars.
Just a year ago, a funny incident happened.
Every newcomer had to pass an adequacy test by USAC.
The observers were impressed by the precision of Clark’s movements but they remarked that “in the 1st lap in the exit of turn 4 the car was…swung a bit” trying to make impression.
Clark calmly replied:
Maybe you did not notice the rabbit crossing the track.
I did not want to hit him!
Jimmy started 7th and lead the race for 28 laps before finishing 2nd behind American Parnelli Jones winning the award of the Rookie of the year.
The organizers of the Milwaukee race took advantage of it and invited the “English men’’ to prove their value in their circuit.
The stands of Milwaukee were full (35.092 spectators) to see the famous driver.
Clark compensated them by dominating the free practices and the qualifying when he smashed the circuit record that Don Branson had since 1961 with 34.09, by doing 32.93 (that mean an average speed of 175,9kph).
In the race he simply lead 200 out of the…200 laps with a pace that let him lap American A.J Foyt who was in the 2nd place.
The first American fortress had just fallen.
The Americans were so mad that called the team also in Trenton, New Jersey.
A new record was scored in the number of spectators because everyone wanted to see the gentleman Jimmy with his “amazing machine” but, unfortunately, he had to retire due to a mechanical failure while he was leading the race.
In 1964, he repeated his effort in Indy and this time he took the pole having an average speed of 255.6kph.
He lead the race for 14 laps when he faced a suspension failure that made him to retire in the 47th lap.
That raced was marked by the collision and the death of the Americans Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs in the very first lap when the first lost control of his car in the oval track and he hit the outside wall and his car blew off (back then secure fuel tanks were not used) and like a fireball he hit and burned the other one, stopping the race for the first time in its history.
In 1965, Jimmy with Lotus 38 arrived so dedicated that he sacrificed the Monaco Grand Prix that was held the same date.
The Americans had already noticed that in the previous year the reason that Jimmy lost the race was a wrong tire choice.
To minimize the possibility of a non American winner, they were supplied with several Lotus 38 and gave them to A.J. Foyt, their best driver of that time, for long lasting tests and also to Dan Gurney (active F1 pilot since 1959) and the weaknesses of the front-engine cars were revealed when they were only 6 out of the 33 in total.
The result of this preparation was that, in the qualifying, Clark was in the front row, behind A.J. Foyt (1st) and ahead of Gurney (3rd).
At the start, Foyt was first but, in the end of 1st lap, Jimmy grabbed the first place and fell again 2nd in the next lap, battling wheel-to-wheel until the 3rd lap when he grabbed the first place to stay there.
By driving this special track very easily, as if he knew it since ages, he led the race for 190 laps (out of 200), only at his pit stop he was temporarily 2nd and wrote history by being the first non American to win that famous race since 1916 that it started and he achieved a record of 150.686mph average speed.
More than 250.000 spectators were shocked by the collapsed of the American fortress but applauded the great winner and appreciated his modest statements in the dozens of TV and radio channels of America that were there.
It should be noted that the organizers were giving a prize of 150 dollars to the leader of every lap and, in the end of the race, Jimmy was joking by saying:
I had come up with saying click 150… click… click… every time I crossed the line!
In 1966, the “British invasion” was enriched with Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.
Jimmy started 2nd behind Mario Andretti and took advantage of a crash in the last places, that turned into a collision for 12 cars, took the first place for 66 laps in total and created a huge gap smashing continuously the lap record as if he was chasing his limits and then he made for the first time in his life a spin, not only once but twice. The lucky spectators enjoyed a unique performance of a 360O spin that did not end in a crash in the oval circuit, and he continued immediately as if nothing had happened.
His team called him twice for a quick check because they could not believe that he did not have any problem after a 165mph spin and after the second time he was back in the track first…or at least this is what his team thought.
After a tragic mistake(?) of the race control where the laps of the race were recorded…manually and without official control, they calculated one lap less and Graham Hill was the winner with a 43” gap and stated that he felt “awkward and surprised by his victory”.
There was a storm of protests that lasted many days because every team had their own lap control system and the American drivers stood by Clark because, as they stated, “Hill had not passed any car in the race” but the result could not change and was the topic of lots of conversations for many years.
This was also helped by the enthusiastic audience that was convinced of his unique driving talent.
It should be noted that the Americans, known for their devotion, primarily in extravagance, and, secondly, to heroes (even foreigners that had honoured them for racing in their country) they were so deeply impressed by this gifted pilot that in 2009 in a poll by Times they voted Jimmy as the best driver of all time!!!
In 1967, he had no distinction and he started 15th and retired in 35th lap by engine failure in a race that was interrupted due to rain and was continued the next day.
General participations (Sportscars, Formula 2, Formula Junior, ΒTCC, Rally, NASCAR)
Trying to report his innumerable victories is utopic.
Indicatively, this volatile pilot participated in…59 events only in 1965 where, when he was not retiring, you can imagine the results.
We could just outline the following achievements.
Wins in Formula Junior (11)
Wins in non-championship F1 races (16)
Wins in F2 (13)
Wins in Tasman Series (21)
Wins in Sports cars (54)
Wins with Touring cars (23)
In 1959, the 23-year old farmer boy with an old Lotus Elite Mk14 and John Whitmore as his co-driver participated in this famous race, finishing 10th overall, 2nd in his class and 1st amateur.
In 1960, he came back with Aston Martin accompanied by Roy Salvadori and finished 3rd overall, while in 1961, again with Aston Martin, retired early.
In 1964, he participated in the British Touring Car Championship(BTCC) with a Ford Lotus Cortina and of course won the championship.
In 1966, he participated in Rally RAC, G. Britain with a Ford Lotus Cortina and Brian Melia as a co-driver.
At that time, the Swedish drivers were dominating the rallies.
The winner of that race, Swedish Bengt Soderstrom, was amazed with Clark’s performance and said:
I was not expecting him to be so good at this king of racing.
He won 3 stages, was 2nd in 7, 3rd in 4 and 4th in 5 before retiring by crashing.
Calmly, then, he stated…
Our job is finished here today.
In 1967, he even managed to try the stock cars in NASCAR.
He participated in 21 of October in the 500 miles of Rockingham oval circuit driving a 7-litre Ford Galaxy of Holman Moody team covering 144 out of 500 laps before retiring due to engine failure.
It was the only race in his life that he did not distinguish.
His nickname was “The flying Scot”, but he was also known as the “gentleman racer”.
His gad such a mobility that every day he travelled by plane or car to race or testing.
As he had told to one of his friends this was how he managed to stay in shape.
He was very meticulous about the precision in the articles about him.
If some article reported him driving at 150mph instead of 149 that he did he was demanding an immediate official correction.
Summarizing, he was F1 champion twice, twice more he lost the title in the final lap and these achievements only in 7 full seasons.
It is logical to conclude that “When Jim Clark finished, he won» and he is widely recognized as the biggest natural talent in driving of all time.
If Lotus’s cars were not so fragile and he did not die so early no one can guess what he could be able to achieve.
Also back then there was a war of tires.
Dunlop’s chief engineer, Alec Maskell, stated that working with various teams from 1960 till 1965 he found that Brabham weares more his rear tires contrary to Surtees and Gurney that weared the front.
What about Clark?
Absolutely equal wear always without anyone ever explaining why, not even himself.
One thing was only noticed:
When others released brake to accelerate, it was the point that Clark started braking.
His greatest asset was undoubtedly adaptability.
No matter what car he was driving in the track, it was taking him only a few laps to start making meaningful and accurate remarks.
It was like he was somehow connected with all the parts of the car.
A typical example was the testimony of the Lotus engineers when in a practice he reported a small vibration in his rear left wheel.
The engineers immediately disassembled the rear suspension and carefully reassembled it, but after testing again Jimmy reported that the problem still was there.
The engineers then disassembled the whole car and only then were they able to discover that there was a …minor flaw in the bearings of the rear left wheel.
He was just gifted with driving skills like Nureyev, without deviating a single cm.
He made only 4 mistakes in 72 races in F1 (including practices), an unbelievable 0.55% which is far better from every other pilot.
His absolute dominance was best recorded in his stats when in 13 races out of his 72 (18%) led the race from start to the end being behind only from Senna with 19 but in 161 races (11.8%).
In the Grand Chelem rankings, pole, victory, leading every lap and fastest lap, he is still first (8) ahead of Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher (5).
On the day he died, Graham Hill stated:
His absence in racing is big as the hell, I will miss his smile
while Jackie Stewart said:
We were known as Batman and Robin, but with no doubt who was who.
He was an international personality loved by all, even his biggest rivals.
From that point, Stewart started a successful campaign to make races safer.
Clark's pile was buried in Chirnside near his home and ηis natural modesty – after his command- followed him in his tomb.
His tombstone says:
First farmer then driver.
Despite the fact that he was characterized as introvert, he remained so modest that he was finally adorable to all the other drivers (his close friends were Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Dan Gurney, Chris Amon and of course the incongruous Colin Chapman).
When he had time, he preferred to go to his farm in Fife, Scotland, instead of living as a star like the other drivers.
This was probably the only comment that the…official gossip of that era made about him.
Chris Amon said about Clark:
If this happened to Jimmy, what are our chances?
I think that all of us agree that we lost our Leader...
Jean-Pierre Beltoise stated:
Jimmy was a demigod, simply better than all of us.
Finally, the great Juan Manuel Fangio once said that Jimmy is beyond question the best driver ever.
He never got married, since 1960 he had an a relationship with Sally Stokes until 1967 that she married another driver, Ed Stewart.
After his death, his father said to Dan Gurney that Jimmy considered him as his biggest rival and Dan felt this was the biggest honor that he could ever achieve.
His characteristic mindset was shown when he confessed a friend of him that in Spa he was asked by the team to slow down, while he was clearly first, for the car to last the race.
The result was to see Dan Gurney in his mirror approaching him and he thought that:
If he sees me he will think he can catch me and if he catches me that he can pass me and this is something I can not allow.
Quietly accelerated and made the gap huge again.
At a time when F1 was still a place for “knight”, Jimmy did not intend to humiliate any rival and frequently was stating that he could not understand why the other drivers were not as fast as him.
Alain Prost once said:
His way of driving was unbelievable.
It was not frightening at all like Senna’s and Mansell’s.
He was taking everything that the car had to give so gently that you could thing he was caressing it.
Anyone that had the inspiration to drive the same car immediately after Clark must have felt very uncomfortable by the comparison.
There was not a single criticism recorder for his personality or behavior either inside or outside track.
He was honest, intact, always smiling and hated interviews and forced public shows. He really suffered when, after his victory in Indianapolis (1965), Henry Ford ΙΙ, impressed demanded to meet the winner that for the first time in the company’s history, their engines won the historic race.
He welcomed Jimmy in a huge salon in which there were the more powerful men in USA that had the same curiosity and Clark was speaking to them smiling but he felt very uncomfortably.
He was forced, for tax reasons, to spend his last two years in Paris.
If someone could blame him for a flaw, it was that he was chewing his nails.
Even in his private life he was undecided even for insignificant issues and he was continuously abstract.
His thought were always focused on racing.
The motto of F1 in that era when there was a different winner in a race was “So what happened to Clark?»
His helmet was always a Bell Magnum in a characteristic blue color.
Many reputable journalists of his country said about him:
Better than Fangio, gaster than Moss, but he felt very uncomfortable.
It seemed that the cars of that time had limits but he did not.
March 4, 1936 – April 7, 1968
Active years in Formula 1: 1960 – 1968
Races: 73 (72 starts).
Championships: 2 (1963, 1965)
Points: 255 (274)
Pole Positions: 33
Fastest laps: 28
- Jim Clark
- Colin Chapman
- Stirling Moss
- Mike Taylor
- Chris Bristow
- Alan Stacey
- Wolfrang von Trips
- Trevor Taylor
- Graham Hill
- Phil Hill
- Eugenio Dragoni
- John Surtees
- Ricardo Rodriguez
- Gary Hocking
- Ayrton Senna
- Jackie Stewart
- Alain Prost
- Nigel Mansell
- Jack Brabham
- Dan Gurney
- Chris Amon
- Ed Stewart