Today marks the anniversary of Jim Clark’s death during a Formula 2 race hockenheimring in West Germany.
The History of Jim Clark.
Jim Clark Jr was born on the 4th of March 1936 in Kilmany, Fife, Scotland. He was the youngest of 5 and the only boy.
At the age of 6, Jim and the family relocated to Edington Mains Farms in the Borders, he spent his early years being schooled in Edinburgh and Musselburgh.
The Start of Racing
Jim began his racing career on 16th June 1956, entering an event at Crimond, Scotland. Jim would be behind the wheel of a DKW Sonderklasse.
By 1958 Jim was racing Jaguar D-types and Porches in national events winning 18 of them.
Boxing Day (26th December) 1958 would prove to be the start of his career that would propel Jim to stardom, he raced against Colin Chapman in a 10 lap GT race finishing second. In 1959, he would drive at Le Mans in a Lister Jaguar, with driving partner John Whitmore. It was at this point that Colin Chapman was sufficiently impressed to give Jim a drive in one of his Formula Junior cars.
Jim would win his debut race at Goodwood in the Lotus Ford beating John Surtees in the Cooper B.M.C.
Such was the talent of Jim Clark, he would not stay in the junior formula for long, making his debut in Formula 1 at the Dutch Grand Prix on 6th June 1960.
Jim would retire for the race with transmission issues on lap 42, however this was just the start.
The harsh reality of Grand Prix racing during the 60’s when, in only his second race at the fast Spa-Francorchamps, the site of two fatal accidents occurred involving Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey. Clark would finish the race with an impressive fifth place, however he admitted that “I was driving scared stiff pretty much all through that race”
Unfortunately, tragedy caught up with Jim Clark again in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix when Wolfgang von Tripps Ferrari collided with Clark’s Lotus, von Tripps car would hit the barrier and then become airborne, ejecting and Killing von Tripps and 15 spectators.
Jim Clark would win his first World Championship in 1963, he would win seven out of ten races, a record not equalled until 1984, when Alain Prost would win seven races in his McLaren, the record would eventually be beaten in 1988, when Ayrton Senna would win eight races also in a McLaren.
Jim Clark’s record would be more favourable since there were only 10 races in the 1963 season, giving him a 70% success rate.
1963 would see Jim Clark competing in his first Indianapolis 500 finishing in second place behind Parnelli Jones, Jim would win Rookie of the Year.
Jim Clark was close to retaining his Drivers title in 1964, however an oil leak meant that he would have to concede the Title to John Surtees.
Jim Clark’s superstardom was confirmed in 1965 when he won the Formula 1 Drivers Championship and the Indianapolis 500, he had to miss the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indy 500, however he would become the first rear-engine car to win at the famous track and the only driver to date to win both the Formula 1 Drivers Championship and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year. Jim was also the first Non-American Indy 500 winner since 1916.
Jim Clark would run in the Tasman series, running older Formula 1 cars, he was series champion in 1965, 1967 and 1968.
The Australian Grand Prix of 1968 was won by Clark by 0.1 seconds from the Ferrari 246T of Chris Amon, the closest finish in the Australian Grand Prix. This win would prove to be the last major win for Jim Clark before his death later in 1968.
The Loss of a Legend
Due to a fourth Month gap between the first two rounds in the 1968 Formula 1 season, drivers would enter other racing series, Jim had entered the Formula 2 race at the Hockenheimring in West Germany.
Jim Clark was racing for Team Lotus alongside fellow British driver Graham Hill. On the fifth lap of the first heat, Clark’s Lotus 48 veered off the track and crashed into the trees, Jim suffered multiple injuries including a Skull Fracture and broken neck, he would succumb to the injuries before reaching the hospital. He was 32.
The Legend of Jim Clark
Jim Clark was exceptional, he had a talent that is unsurpassed, unmatched, and unrivalled. The Motorsport world lost a true great on that day in 1968, we will never be able to see where his career would end up. How many titles would he have captured? How many records would he break? It is sadly something that we will never know.
One thing is for sure we at EverythingF1 are proud to follow a sport that had Jim Clark as one of its competitors, someone that we can look up to and marvel in his talent and with the internet we can all relive all that he was able to achieve.
Jim Clark deserves to be known as one of the greatest drivers of a generation. Such was his talent, it not only helped to define a generation, but his talent also transcends generations and will live on for many years to come.