Jim Clark Tribute – 53 Years On
Jim Clark was a British racing driver who won racing titles in many different racing categories including F1 – in 1963 and 1965 – and IndyCar in 1965.
Written by DJ Byrne, Edited by S Stewart
Today marks the 53rd year since his death at the Hockenheimring in 1968, in which he would crash his car and pass away in an accident in the first Formula 2 heat of the Martini Gold Cup.
He spent all 8 of his seasons at Lotus, winning 2 drivers championships with the team. He is considered an all-time great, after winning 25 of his 72 Grand Prix, and taking a record eight grand chelems – taking pole position, leading every lap, getting the fastest lap and winning the race.
My favourite of his victories came at the 1963 Belgian GP, in which it was rain soaked. It was on the old, long layout, where he started P8. The rain was bucketing, and pressure was on Lotus to perform in the early stage of the championship. After starting eighth, he passed everybody in the early stages of the race, including the championship leader at the time Graham Hill. By the end of the race, Clark lapped everybody except Bruce McLaren, who was 5 minutes behind in his Cooper. The victory was made even better by the fact he had to manage gearbox issues when he shifted up to fifth (which was often on this high speed circuit) where he had to hold the gear stick in place, thus having only one hand on his steering wheel.
His final victory came at the 1968 South African GP. This race was thrilling, as the first 6 drivers on the grid were all champions, with the reigning champion Denny Hulme starting in P9. The race began with Clark on pole, with Jackie Stewart alongside. Stewart would overtake Clark for the lead on lap one, but lose the lead again on lap 2. Jim Clark broke several records in this race as well, including:
Leading the most GPs(43)
Most laps led(1,943)
Most perfect weekends(11)
Most pole positions(33)
Most race wins(25)
Jim Clark today is remembered as a legend, a gentleman, and an all round good person, with himself still being in the thoughts of many British F1 fans. He is regarded by many as the greatest driver to have lived, having won events in all sorts of disciplines. One thing for sure is that Clark is up there with the greats.