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…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

A little bit of Oulton

It wasn’t always going to be a free weekend: when Jim Clark opened his red leather agenda over the winter in Edington Mains the Syracuse F1 weekend would definitely have been listed – a race full-square against the new Ferraris. The Italian police decreed otherwise, however. Still the questions were being asked about the Monza accident in 1961. Jim addressed them; he even held a press conference in late 1963 so that the British press would know exactly what was being said. By March, 1964, however, there was still no clarity. Colin Chapman and Jim thus took the decision to avoid Italy for a while; Syracuse was off the schedule. Instead, Jim would race in the British Automobile Racing Club’s traditional spring meeting at Oulton Park. It wasn’t a big international; on the contrary, it was by any standards a “national” meeting. Nonetheless it featured the reigning World Champion in three different cars in three different events; Bruce McLaren in his new Zerex sports car (just purchased from Roger Penske and hastily fitted not only with a 2.7 litre Climax engine but also the lighting, windscreen wiper and luggage space required by the RAC regulations!); Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell F3 Cooper-BMW and Cooper Monaco, which he shunted heavily in practice; Jackie didn’t race the Chequered Flag Elan as I imply below. He would have his first race with it at Silverstone in three weeks’ time and at Oulton it was driven into a good second place by Mr Chequered Flag himself – Graham Warner); Sir John Whitmore (Lotus Elan and Cortina); and Jack Sears (Ford Galaxy and Cobra).  I should also add that Phil Middlehurst, father of the Lotus 25/43-driving Andy, was also very quick at Oulton this spring weekend, winning the Mini class with his very rapid Cooper S.

Why did Jim Clark make the effort to race in such relatively unimportant events? “I really enjoyed myself racing in 1964,” he would say later.”I managed to relax a bit more than usual; somehow the strain was not so great. I had, after all, achieved my ambition of becoming World Champion, so maybe my mind made me relax a little. I certainly felt freer of the cares that had almost obsessed me at times in 1963 and I consciously went out to enjoy myself.  I don’t think this was shown in my driving, for though my attitude might have changed a little, the results will show I was trying even harder in 1964 than I had the previous year.”

Image below: LAT Photographic

1964 Formula One World Championship.

Jim takes time for a spot of polishing at Edington Mains in early 1964

 

A star is born

…and made

2013 Indy Lights HoustonAll racing drivers work hard – some harder than others.  Gabby Chaves was only 15 when he started to win Formula BMW races and from there the only way was up. Thing was, he didn’t have the funding for really competitive drives in really competitive categories.  He raced in Italian F3 (where he was Rookie of the Year); but he struggled in GP3. Yet another karting prodigy looked as though he was about to fade away.

Instead, Gabby at 17 years of age dug deep and re-booted in America, first in Star Mazda, then in Indy Lights. He worked at his driving – he worked hard at school. And he and his Mum door-knocked the sponsors. You can sell more in the States; people listen if you have something to sell (or so they kept telling themselves).

They found a budget. He won races last year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports; he was quick on both ovals and road courses. For 2014, though, despite that success, he had less sponsorship to wield. He stayed in Indy Lights. He signed with a smaller team – Belardi. Drivers he’d beaten in Lights (Carlos Munoz, Jack Hawksworth) progressed with early distinction to IndyCar. New talent arrived from all quarters - Matt Brabham (Australia/USA), Jack Harvey (UK) and the GP2 race winner, Luiz Razia (Br). It was a gamble. Could Gabby, now 20, continue his momentum with a less-recognised team in what was now becoming an ultra-competitive category?

It’s early days, but I think the answer is going to be yes. I think Gabby is going to become a major star. He took the pole at St Pete and finished second there to Andretti’s talented young star, Zach Veach. At Long Beach, last weekend, he qualified second and won the race from the front. I spoke to him on the Tuesday about that win and what it’s been like switching teams and facing the powerful new opposition. His enthusiasm, as you’ll see in this video, is infectious – as is his passion for racing.

To Pau, for the first 1-litre F2 race…

Jim Clark’s 1964 season engendered a wide variety of nice – and sometimes not-so-nice – racing cars. The F2 Lotus 32 fell firmly in the former category. Jim’s first race with it was in the opening round of the French F2 series – itself the first race for the new F2 – around the familiar streets of Pau. Enter Ron Harris Team Lotus:  in this video we’ve tried to uncover a little more about the former motor-cyclist-cum-film distributor-cum Team Lotus entrant. We also chat with with the very rapid John Fenning, himself a Ron Harris Team Lotus driver, and for the bulk of 1964 a front-running F3 star.

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Jim and the Ron Harris Lotus 32-Cosworth were the class of the Pau, 1964, weekend

Goodwood Easter Monday: Jim Clark, P1

From Sebring back to the UK via a quick test day at Indianapolis: for Jim Clark, the 1964 season was now gathering pace. Next on the agenda was the March 30 non-championship F1 race at Goodwood, that gorgeous circuit on the Sussex downs on which he first tested the Aston Martin F1 car late in 1959. Jim had subsequently won prodigiously there in Formula Junior, and had had a lot of fun too with John Ogier’s Aston Martin Zagato – not to mention the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro (crashed heavily by his team-mate, Maston Gregory in 1959) and the Border Reivers Lister and Aston DBR1 – but this was his first chance to race an F1 car at Goodwood. It was also his first race at Goodwood since 1962, although he had tested there in 1963.  As at Snetterton, he would drive the modified Lotus 25 on 13in wheels and “donut” Dunlops. Also on Jim’s race card on that Easter Monday: his third British race with the Ford Lotus Cortina.

Images: LAT Photographic and Peter Windsor Collection

 

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In front of a packed 1964 Easter Monday crowd Jim Clark drifts to victory in the 42-lap “News of the World” Trophy race for F1 cars at the wheel of Lotus 25B/R6. Note the wider Dunlops now mounted on 13in wheels (relative to the 15in wheels and narrower tyres used in 1963). Jim inherited his win from Graham Hill, who retired his new BRM with two laps to run, but even so was obliged to race for half the distance without a clutch

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In the early stages of the 10-lap St Mary’s Trophy race Jim chases Jack Sears’ Willment Galaxy and leads team-mate Peter Arundell plus the two Willment Lotus Cortina drivers (Bob Olthoff and Frank Gardner)

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Sally Stokes (Swart) in the Goodwood pits with that Heuer stopwatch Jim gave her after the Geneva Show. It was cold on Easter Monday, 1964

Jim Clark’s 1964 season – from Snett to Sebring

And so it begins…

Last year we looked at Jim’s classic 1963 season;  now, in video form, and with additional photographs on these pages, we continue our race-by-race reports of Jim’s racing career and racing life as it happened 50 years ago.  After a whirlwind winter of business activities, farming and award ceremonies, Jim’s season busts into life…amidst the rain and mud of a cold, wet Snetterton.  It’s the Daily Mirror Trophy race for F1 cars (non-championship) and the entry includes a new monocoque BRM for Graham Hill, Jack Brabham (Brabham BT7), Bruce McLaren (Cooper 66), Innes Ireland (BRP), Phil Hill (in the venerable Centro Sud BRM BRM) and Jim’s new team-mate at Team Lotus, Peter Arundell. Read more…

And now Anthony Rowlinson picks eight!

_W2Q3634OK. Round two. The Petronas Malaysian GP at the wonderful Sepang circuit (designed by Hermann Tilke).  Heat – lots of it. Humidity – too much of it. Possible rain – torrential.  Long straights – tough on the new engines. Fast ess-bends. Hairpins. Hard braking. Dragster acceleration bursts.

Sepang has it all. Read more…

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