The Importance of being Jim Clark
Every death in motor racing is a tragedy. But there can few figures lost to the sport who leave such a lasting legacy as Jim Clark. Crashing fatally at Hockenheim in April 1968, the Scottish farmer’s son was only 32 when he died yet had started 72 Grands Prix – and achieved an amazing 33 poles and 25 victories.
People who knew him professed to his sublime finesse and feeling for camber, apex and flow – and though he apparently didn’t have the mechanical knowledge of many of his contemporaries his partnership with Lotus engineering guru Colin Chapman resulted in one of the most sublimely talented partnerships in the history of the sport.
Clark’s natural talent meant he could win in almost any type of car – from the Lotus-Cortina, with which he won the 1964 British Touring Car Championship to IndyCar, NASCAR Rallying and sports cars. He competed in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1959, 1960 and 1961, finishing second in class in 1959 driving a Lotus Elite, and finishing third overall in 1960, driving an Aston Martin DBR1.
Jackie Stweart said of Clark “He was so smooth, he was so clean, he drove with such finesse. He never bullied a racing car, he sort of caressed it into doing the things he wanted it to do.” Fellow driver summed up Clark’s influence when, commenting on Clark’s death he said “If it could happen to him, what chance do the rest of us have? I think we all felt that. It seemed like we’d lost our leader.”
Humble to the last, Clark was nevertheless one of the most photographed drivers of his day. Look at the many moods of the man and see – there’s an elegance – a kind of natural dignity to him that was reflected in the finesse with which he handled any race car he drove.
The film below is really worth taking the time to watch. Some great footage of a great F1 era.
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