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Jim Clark wins the Indy 500

victory laneIn celebration of Jim Clark’s historic win at the 49th Indianapolis 500, there is perhaps no better person to recount the occasion than Jim himself. This is what he wrote shortly after the race in the (rare) updated version of his autobiography, Jim Clark at the Wheel:

“Practice at Indianapolis often serves as a guide to ultimate performances, but it goes deeper than this because even such things as the time of day can influence your practice times. Also, you are not restricted to a particular grade of fuel, as you are in European racing, so it is quite easy to brew up some juice to give you a great deal more power. We tried a nitro mix in our fuel in practice and got ourselves an extra 50bhp but in the race we chose to run on alcohol and play safe. AJ Foyt, my greatest rival, ran nitro in the race.

“I found myself in the middle of the front row with AJ on the pole. Unlike 1963, however, this race was going to be run with different tactics. For one thing, I didn’t expect to change tyres at all during the race; we would stop only twice (for fuel). We had the Wood Brothers from NASCAR and we knew we were going to be able to load 60 gallons in just 16 seconds. Foyt was carrying more fuel – and was using more power to counteract that.

“I had heard that he had had some gearbox trouble with the car and I guessed that all this extra power and weight might make his car suspect in the race. This is how it turned out.

“I made a good start and was first into Turn One, which, I was later told, was the first time in Speedway history this had been done. This is just one of the statistics that is thrown at you at a race like this. I don’t think it means too much. On lap two Foyt was right behind me and I saw him pull out to pass. I let him go but quickly he began to slow down, and though I didn’t mind him running faster than me, I didn’t want him running slower. So I repassed him and kept the lead from that point onwards.

“I am often asked when I felt as thought the race was won and my stock reply is about 100 yards from the chequered flag. I did, though, begin to feel pretty confident after my first pit stop. I rejoined the track to find Parnelli Jones beside me and I didn’t know if he’d had his pit stop or whether he was a lap ahead of me. I set out and passed him and then a couple of laps later my pit board read ‘PLUS 58 PARNELLI’. I remember thinking ‘that’s good’ for, although we were actually running together, he was a lap behind me on the road. Then suddenly we shot past another car I didn’t recognize until I saw the number on the side: it was Foyt. He had just been in for his pit stop and when he saw us going past he got all gathered up again and started pushing hard. I let him past again and then shortly afterwards got another sign saying, ‘PLUS 58, PLUS 58’, telling me I was now a lap ahead of both of them.

“As I write these words Indianapolis is only a matter of three weeks behind me and I am only just beginning to realize that I did actually win the race. I remember the crowds cheering, the interviews – oh, the interviews! – and of course the wild claims of the tremendous amount of money I am supposed to have earned. At this moment I haven’t the faintest idea what I have won but I know it will be nothing like the fantastic figures quoted.

“Having missed Monaco, I had some points to catch up in the World Championship table and so, for my part, Indianapolis was quickly forgotten in preparation for Spa and the Belgian GP…”

Let’s hear also from two members of Jim’s pit crew during the race – the very talented Australian marine engineer, Jim Smith, and Allan Moffat, the Canadian-Australian who went on to become one of the greatest racing drivers in Australian touring car history. Finally, in this Indy-related trilogy, Dick Scammell, Team Lotus Chief Mechanic in 1965, recalls how Jimmy gave him the actual gloves he used to win the Indy 500 and how he tuned in to the American Forces’ Network (AFN) radio station in order to listen to the race live in the UK.

 

Jim Clark’s Indy 500 – the vital statistics

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Jim’s daily best speeds in build-up to Qualifying  May 3: first laps of Speedway. Best lap: 152.500 (P2); May 4: 152.284 (P1); May 6: 154.772 (P1); May 7: 156.500 (P1); May 8: 158.926 (P1); May 9: 158.7 (P1); May 10: 157.168 (P2); May 11: 157.800 (P2); May 12: 156.9 (P3); May 13: 160.142 (P2); May 14: 160.100 (P1); May 15: (Pole day)

Jim’s qualifying lap speeds: 160.772, 160.973, 160.714, 160.456 = 160.729 average (P2)

Jim’s official driver stats: Home town: Duns, Scotland; Age: 29; Birthdate: March 4, 1936; Height: 5ft 8in; Weight: 160 lbs; Marital status: single

Jim’s pit stops: L66 (17sec; fuel only), L136 (24.7sec; fuel only)

Jim’s winning time: 3hr 19min 5.34sec

Jim’s winning speed: 150.686 mph

Top three finishers 1) Jim Clark (Lotus 38-Ford); 2) Parnelli Jones (Agajanian Lotus 34-Ford); 3) Mario Andretti (Dean Van Lines “Brabham”-Ford)

Rookie of the Year: Mario Andretti

Jim’s race prize money: $166,621; equivalent value in 2015: $1,251,504; Jim’s share of race prize money: £46,000; equivalent value in 2015: £833,559

Additional Prizes:

Plymouth Sports Fury Convertible Pace Car; Borg-Warner Trophy; L.Strauss & Co Trophy; Bardach Brothers Ring; WFBM Trophy; John Hobbs Trophy; Wynn Oil Co diamond-studded pin; Premier Corp engraved watch; $1000 wardrobe from Dick’s Mens’ store, Wabash; Power twin-welder from Marquette Corp; Proto Tool Co “tote tray”; $100 merchandise certificate from Dorothy’s Inc; Speedway blanket from College House studios

(Note: Jim led 190 of the 200 laps, earning an extra $28,500 at the rate of $150 per lap although Colin Chapman always reckoned they were owed another $150 for the extra lap driven by Jim when the chequered flag was waved a lap late)

Jim’s Qualifying prize money: $1700; equivalent value in 2015: $12,769

1965 Festival Queen: Miss Suzanne Devine, of Chevy Chase Lane, Carmel, In.

Official race day attendance: 350,000

The month of May (1965): photo album/3

In shirtsleeves
And so it was time for qualifying. Saturday, May 15. Over 200,000 fans streamed into the Speedway. The sun was warm, the atmosphere electric. Jim wore a short-sleeved shirt to the track, then changed into his Hinchmans.  It was a media frenzy; the qualifying line was a mass of people, cars and equipment.  Jim found shelter under the Lotus pit wall gantry.Shelter2 Qual readyHe was due on track shortly after Mario, who took the temporary pole with a four-lap average of 158.849mph in his Clint Brawner/Jim McGee Brabham copy.

Jim and Mike fired up the Ford V8. The first engine had covered an amazing 1500 miles over the opening week, with a new boost-venturi fuel injection system providing improved consumption with no loss of power.  Jim had revved the engine to 9,300 in this period but would restrict the race engine to 9,100 for qualifying and then 8,800 for the 500 miles. No-one believed that Firestone could take the pole – and so it proved.Qual out  Having said that, Jim’s second lap broke the 160mph barrier (160.973mph) for the first time and paved the way to a four-lap average of 159.405mph. Amazingly, as Colin and the media swarmed around him, Jim apologised for “making a mess of it” on laps three and four due to the sudden gusts of wind. Qualifying P2

AJ Foyt (below) stalled his Ford engine just prior to his run but eventually took to the track in calmer conditions. Maximising his softer Goodyears, he won the pole at a stunning average of 161.233mph. Foyt on poleJim would start from the middle of the front row, with Dan to his right.

Then, for Jim, came a welcome break: he headed for the airport and a flight back to London. He would spend a few days in Scotland and then return, with Sally Stokes, to Indy for the race. Jim’s team-mate, Bobby Johns, would “sit in” for him during the traditional front-row photographs on the Monday.

Images: The Henry Ford Collection, The Peter Windsor Collection

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The month of May (1965): photo album/2

Action - no peakUnfamiliar in peakless helmet in the early testing days at Indy, Jim quickly established the race-winning potential of the Lotus 38.  With DanAs intense as the programme quickly became, there was also a feeling of isolation in the vast Speedway and within the town of Indy itself. Jim’s season until that point had been a blur of different cars, circuits, airports, aircraft, hotels and restaurants. Now he was at The Speedway and the rest of his European racing friends were preparing first for the non-championship F1 race at Silverstone and then for Monaco. Everyone, that is, except the driver closest to Jim’s heart – Dan Gurney. Dan had initially run as Jim’s Indy team-mate but was now managing his own, Yamaha-sponsored Lotus 38 on Goodyears as a precursor to his AAR F1 programme in 1966. Both drivers were going to miss the International Trophy at Silverstone (where Pedro Rodriguez would deputise for Jim, finishing fourth behind team-mate Mike Spence) and the Monaco GP; both had so much in common – including, while Jim tested them,  Goodyear tyres (below and below right). The Goodyears proved to be a little quicker than the Firestones but, as Jim Smith remembers in the adjoining video, Team Lotus eventually opted for Firestones after the Goodyears began to show signs of chunking. Tyres were always a concern for Jim Clark (using a new white peak from the second week onwards), particularly after the problems with the Dunlops at Indy in 1964

Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis, IN, 1965. Jim Clark prepares for practice in his Lotus-Ford 38. CD#0777-3292-0895-29.Tyre temps

Also at the back of everyone’s minds was the loss of Bobby Marshman, Bobby Marshmanthe ultra-quick US-based Lotus development driver (left) who had crashed heavily when the throttle stuck open while engine testing at Phoenix late in 1964; he had subsequently succumbed to his second- and third-degree burns

And so the month swept on. Colin Chapman couldn’t resist a bit of aircraft-spotting; 

Eyes up Flat out Flat out 2 Boys at rest Window sign Rubbing eyes

 

 

 

 

Jim often sat it out on the track; the boys took impromptu naps after the frequent all-nighters; and, while the inevitable joke-signs appeared on garage windows in Gasoline Alley, Jim worked hard, thinking of every possible angle.

Jim also befriended a young Italian-American named Mario Andretti (below).  Mario was in his rookie year but was already highly-rated by such drivers as Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones and AJ Foyt.  With Mario

Images: The Henry Ford, The Peter Windsor Collection

 

Making it over there

I admit it: I’ve been a Jack Hawksworth fan for a while now. I find it difficult not to respect a young driver who saw no prospect of raising serious GP3/GP2 money in Europe and thus focused 100 per cent on racing in America. It isn’t easy in the States; far from it. New culture. New types of racing. New places. There is, though, a “Road to Indy” scholarship system that rewards young drivers from the Pro Mazda (formerly Star Mazda) Series through Indy Lights and thence to IndyCar – a sort of Red Bull progression for those unfortunate enough not have Red Bull money. Jack, a quick karter  and Formula Renault driver in England, had no compunction about making the change and sustaining his motivation.

And this year, in IndyCar, he’s delivered. Driving for another true racer – Bryan Herta – Jack led races and scored a podium finish in Houston. Now the sky’s the limit, as he told me when we chatted a few days ago.

All four seasons in one day

24144.tifThe 1964 Daily Express International Trophy meeting at Silverstone for Jim Clark brought all four seasons in a day: on one brilliant uSaturday, in front of a packed crowd, Jim raced the F1 Lotus 25-Coventry-Climax, the Ian Walker Lotus-30-Ford, the Ford Lotus Cortina and the Ian Walker Lotus Elan-Ford 26R.  And then he rushed away for two days of testing at Indianapolis.

Images: LAT Photographic, The Henry Ford

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Identical attitudes from Mr Clark as he balances the Ian Walker Elan (left) and Lotus 30 (below) through Becketts. Both cars shared the same backbone-chassis principle. The IWR Elan always handled well (despite Jackie Stewart finding his Chequered Flag car very knife-edgy) and the 30, which flexed, was driveable in the wet and semi-wet (whenever its irascible mechanical components allowed). Jim adopts a similar pose with the Lotus 25 in the header: note that the left front Dunlop, mid-corner, is pointing in exactly the same direction as those of the Elan and the 30 – dead straight, in other words (and therefore textbook-perfect). In the Cortina (below) Jim was by contrast always playing with understeer 

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