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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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Indy, Mosport…and now the Palace

Capping a hectic triple-header, Jim Clark wins for Normand Racing at Crystal Palace

19148_lowresIt was remarkably straightforward, even for 1963.  The Boeing 707 carrying Jim, Sir John Whitmore, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss touched down at London airport on the morning of Sunday, June 2 – and Jim and John repaired quickly to John’s Mayfair flat for a wash and change.  Jim usually slept well on planes, particularly if he could find four free seats in economy, and this flight was no exception. Sunday was a free day – a day to regroup, to catch up and to enjoy England.   Tracks from Please Please Me were constantly being played on the radio.  I Saw Her Standing There; Twist and Shout; A Taste of Honey. The newspapers were full of Christine Keeler and the Profumo affair.  Chris Amon had said he knew someone who knew Christine…  Now, on this Sunday, he was delighted to be home, even if he wasn’t on the farm.

His Leston track bag packed with fresh Dunlops, his new blue Magnum and Westovers, Jim joined Sir John for the short drive to Crystal Palace in John’s Ford Zephyr early the following morning.  Jim was entered in the Normand Lotus 23B for the main race on this Bank Holiday Whitmonday (the sports car race counting for the Autosport Trophy), and John would be back again in his works Austin-Cooper.  Both did well in morning practice.  Jim, feted as something of an “Indianapolis hero”, qualified the 23 on the front row, beaten only by the much more powerful Tommy Atkins Cooper Monaco of Roy Salvadori.  John, too, was very sideways and very quick in the Austin-Cooper.

Thirty thousand people flocked to the Palace for the afternoon’s racing (entrance: five shillings for adults, two shillings for children), enticed by the presence of the reigning World Champion, Graham Hill (3.8 Jaguar), Jim Clark, Trevor Taylor, Jack Sears (Ford Galaxie), the best Mini racers in Europe and Salvadori.  This was, too, the tenth anniversary of Crystal’s re-opening since WWII.  The Indy 500 had not been shown on British TV (as in 2013!) but word of Jim’s brilliance had filtered through via the daily papers.

The atmosphere at this British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) international was relaxed and homely.  Indy, thought Jim, as he stood on a balcony overlooking the pit lane, officials below him in cloth caps, tweed jackets and ties, seemed much more than an ocean away – as did Mosport.  Here, at this lovely little circuit, full of fast corners and undulations, all was in order, all was as it should be. The 23 in Canada had been a handful.  The Normand 23Bs, overseen by Mike Beckwith, were immaculate.  The car was a delight to drive.  And there – over there – there was Autosport’s photographer, George Phillips.  He’d watch out for George during the race and give the 23 a bit of a tweak just to see if he was awake.  And who is this, standing with David Hobbs, Bill Bradley and the boys over at the MRP (Midland Racing Partnership) Formula Junior truck?  She looks nice…

Jim sauntered over, signing an autograph or two for the polite British enthusiasts.

“Jim!  Brilliant job at Indy!  Jim – have you met Sally Stokes…?”

Sally, the fashion model daughter of a military father, was at Crystal with friends in support of her local racing team (MRP).  She knew Bill, David and Richard Attwood.  Now she knew Jim Clark.

Jim made a better start than Salvo but the 2.7 litre Cooper-Climax ate the 1.6 litre twin-cam 23B for an early lunch as they hit the longer gears.  Jim fell into second place. Trevor initially filled his mirror with his red ARS (Auto Racing Service) 23 – but then it was Mike, driving beautifully and quickly, who made it a Normand two-three.  Trevor spun – and would spin again, late in the race, after a driving frantically back to fourth from P10.  Jim inherited a win when Salvadori’s Cooper lost its gears with ten laps to go.  Mike finished an excellent second and Keith Greene, of Gilby fame, finished third;  Keith would go on to become Team Manager of the F1 Brabham team.19161_lowres

The Minis were outstanding. Sir John won the blast but the tyre smoke and the door-handles were what the crowd took home:  Paddy Hopkirk pushed John all the way – as did the deliciously fast Christabel Carlisle.  Then came John Rhodes and John Fenning – outstanding talents both.  Jack Sears won again with the big Galaxie, from Roy Salvadori and Graham Hill;  and Denny Hulme continued his run in the Formula Junior race, leading home Frank Gardner, Alan Rees and David Hobbs.  Other drivers in the FJ race:  Peter Revson, Chris Amon, Richard Attwood, Paul Hawkins and Mike Spence.

So much talent;  so much fun.

Finally, as they sipped a beer or two in the paddock and pushed the racing cars back onto their trailers, and changed out of their overalls on the grass, by the back doors of their road cars, the day was over.  It was British motor racing at its best;  it was Jim Clark at his best – in a car as simple and as elegant as a Lotus 23, balancing slides with fingers and toes, absolutely on the limit, every corner, every lap, on an early-June Monday in London, in the tiny space that lay between the Indianapolis 500 and the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

It was Jim, wondering if John could arrange some sort of second meeting with Sally…

Captions from top:  Jim drifts the Normand 23B for the benefit of Autosport’s George Phillips;  almost airborne – again!  Indy, Mosport and now Crystal Palace – and in two days Jim would be off to Spa for the Belgian GP  Images: LAT Photographic1963pa

Indy: Second Row for rookie Jim Clark

moremsportshistorySilverstone and that dramatic escape behind him, Jim Clark returned to the cauldron they call Indianapolis, this time residing at the Speedway Motel.  He and Dan Gurney were ready to roll on Monday morning – and to apply, therefore, the finishing touches to their all-important qualifying attempts.  If they didn’t make it on this first weekend there would be no Monaco Grand Prix.  It was as simple as that.  And if there was no Monaco Grand Prix, Jim Clark’s 1963 F1 season was going to become unnecessarily tough.  After losing the title in 1962 by a single point, and now having won Pau, Imola and Silverstone in quick succession, he was keen to keep the momentum going.

Jim was delighted to find that Hinchman and Bell were true to their word.  His brand new overalls were, he thought, a little on the gaudy side – but this was Indy; and the race suit, critically, met all the USAC regulations for flame resistance.  Hinchman didn’t seem to be in the business of two-piece suits (of the Dunlop type to which Jim was now accustomed), so this one-piece overall featured a neat little belt with a silver clip-buckle.  Once he’d decided that regular shirts and pullovers were a little too casual, Jim had never worn anything but blue Dunlop overalls – first in one-piece form and, since 1962, with a separate topped tucked into the leggings.  Now, as he tried on the Hinchmans for the first time, he saw in the mirror a completely different person.  The shiny overalls were a base primrose-yellow with mid-blue stripes down the arms, pin-striped in red.  There seemed to be no logic to the colours but he liked them all the same.  His name was embroidered at an angle below the left chest zip pocked and on the right side was a Pure logo.  Jim shrugged and packed the suit into his Leston bag.  He’d wear it in the car but, between runs, he would change quickly back into his sea-island cotton polo and slacks or perhaps his shirt and tie.  He also found a new Pure jacket waiting for him in his hotel room.  He liked it.  It was dark blue – his colour – with blue and white cuffs and collar.   Very Border Reivers.  And the Pure badge was neat and tidy.  Without even thinking about the implications for Esso, he decided then that this jacket would not only be useful at Indy but also in Europe.images

The new Bell Magnum felt only slightly heavier than his Everoak but was considerably thicker all over.  A neat white peak was clipped into place by four big studs – a significant improvement over the strap/stud arrangement that had caused so much trouble at Spa the year before, when the peak on his Everoak had been blown loose by the rush of air at high speed.  Problem was, the Bell was finished in plain silver.  Jim wanted to wear it right away, enabling him to get used to it in the build-up to qualifying.  In the meantime he would see if Bell could prepare another Magnum in dark blue.  It wouldn’t be ready for qualifying but he’d be able to take it back with him to Europe to use at Monaco.

Jim was amazed by the size of the crowd at the Speedway that Monday – and in the days that followed.  More and more, he seemed to be in demand.  Whenever he was in a public area they jumped on him for autographs and in Gasoline Alley the media were all over him.  For the perspective of a fan at the time (albeit 1966), read Don Fitzpatrick’s comment associated with our 1963 Silverstone International Trophy report.

There was a shortage of Halibrand wheels at Indy – itself a function of the trend-setting 15in Firestones being run on the Lotus 29s;  Dan, not completely comfortable with his set-up, spun his blue-and-white car into the wall; and the wind gusted up as Jim’s qualifying run approached:  it was tense and it was time to go to work.

Jim described his qualifying run thus:

“On the day of qualifying there was a fair-sized wind blowing at Indianapolis.  I knew I wouldn’t get another opportunity, and, though quite a number of cars had been out and had failed to qualify because of the conditions, I had to make a real effort.

“It was a tense time, with the wind blowing in 35mph gusts and the car was very twitchy indeed.  Three hours previously I had been going around pretty steadily at about 151.5 mph, and Colin timed one lap at 153 mph;  but these speeds were not possible when I went out for the official trials.

“Dan’s practice crash had caused some embarrassment, because he wrote-off two of the wide-rimmed wheels I was due to use on my car for qualifying.  So I did my qualifying with none of the rims matching – two wide ones on the outside wheels and narrow ones on the inside.

“Anyway, after a few minutes of gritting my teeth and fighting the wind gusts, I eventually managed to qualify at 149.750 mph, which put me in the middle of the second row.tumblr_m1lr6nfOXQ1r53nlzo1_500  You know, it’s amazing what a difference the track temperature and air temperature make to lap speeds at Indianapolis.  I went out one day and couldn’t do anything better than 148 mph.  Colin was trying to sort out the reason, and though he did everything he knew, the car just couldn’t be got round any quicker.  We realized later that the speed was being cut by the heat, and we also realized that at that time all the other drivers had parked their cars away and weren’t troubling to go out.  Local knowledge does help!

“The technique for the lap was relatively straightforward:  I dabbed the brakes going into each turn and had to smack them pretty hard when I had a full load of fuel aboard.  The difficulties about Indianapolis are the lack of distinguishing features around the circuit and the fact that there is no apex on the four turns.”

Jim had made it – and so, in the spare Lotus 29, painted in Jim’s green and yellow colours, had Dan.  They could relax.  And they could begin the rushed trip, with Colin, back to Europe.  Practice for the Monaco Grand Prix would begin on Thursday, May 23.S2530001

Captions from top: Jim, wearing new Hinchmans, in nail-biting mood as he listens to the pre-qualifying drivers’ briefing and draw; Middle: Jim loved the blue-and-white Pure jackets that came with the American oil company’s Indy sponsorship (via its Ford connections).  He wears it here over his Esso-badged blue Dunlops!; Above right: the official Indianapolis portrait of Jim Clark; Above: Jim, in the new silver Bell Magnum, after qualifying the Lotus 29 on the second row.  Around him, from left to right, are Colin Chapman, Jim Endruweit, David Lazenby and Colin Riley 

Pictures: Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Peter Windsor Collection; LAT Photographic

High Fives for Clark at Silverstone

moremsportshistoryFirst, though, the build-up to that May 11, 1963, 15th International Trophy Race:

Indianapolis became a steep learning-curve as the month of May gathered pace.  As well as embracing the ways of the idiosyncratic Speedway, and all that comes with it, Team Lotus faced the additional problems of being newcomers amongst the old guard, of initiating the winds of profound technical change and of trying many all-new components thus related.  Like big, aluminium, 4.2 litre Ford Fairlane V8 engines.  And Firestone tyres.  And Halibrand wheels.  And asymmetric suspension.  And seat belts.  And, yes, Bell Magnum helmets.

For most of the month of May, Jim, Colin Chapman and David Phipps, the talented photo-journalist, stayed in the house of Rodger Ward, the 1959 and 1962 Indy winner.   The days were relaxed by European racing standards, beginning with early morning tests, lunch work, more afternoon laps and then late-ish nights with the mechanics after early evening meals.   The issues were many:  the Dunlop D12s were quicker (Dan Gurney had lapped his Lotus 29 at 150mph while Jim was racing in Europe) but the Firestones were more durable.  With one pit stop to the roadsters’ two or three, Lotus could enjoy a big advantage even before the race was underway.  To achieve that, however, they needed to run the less grippy Firestones.

This, in turn, caused a furore.  Firestone built special tyres for Lotus around 15in wheels but then quickly found themselves under pressure from the Americans, who also expected the same, larger, footprint tyres for their roadsters (which normally ran 18in wheels).  AJ Foyt in particular took umbrage.  Expecting Firestone to be swamped, he approached Goodyear about using their stock car (NASCAR) tyres.  They agreed.  And, with that, the great Akron company began its single-seater racing history.

The switch to Firestones had additional implications for Jim.  Until now, he had worn at Indy his regular, light blue, two-piece Dunlop overalls, complete with Esso and BRDC badges.  With Ford’s engine supply now requiring the Lotus 29s to use Pure fuel and lubricants, those overalls were obviously redundant.  What to do?  Dan introduced Jim to Lew Hinchman, the local owner of a large garment and uniform factory.  Lew, whose father, JB,  built fire-retardant overalls for many of the American drivers, was in the process of making a dark blue, Ford-logo’d one-piece suit for Dan.  Why not make one for Jim, too?  Jim was measured up in the sweaty Team Lotus garage one lunch break (air-conditioning units were forbidden by the Speedway Safety Police due to the WWII-spec wiring in the garages!) and Jim was told that the overalls would be ready for the first week of qualifying.  Dan also pointed Jim in the direction of the Bell Helmets race rep.  Dan had been using a leather-edged McHal for a couple of years, and loved it.  Even so, he was impressed with the new Magnum. And so here was a chance for Jim to put his trusty Everoak out to pasture.  Jim examined the new silver helmet and decided to try it in the build-up to qualifying.  For Silverstone, next weekend, he would nonetheless race with the Everoak – for the last time, as it turned out.

Between runs in this leisurely week at Indy, Jim also had time to shape-up his travel schedule for the following weeks.  It would go something like this:

Tue, May 7: return to England (via Chicago). Pick up Lotus-Cortina at Heathrow. Drive to Silverstone. Check in to Green Man hotel. Thur-Fri-Sat: International Trophy F1 race, Silverstone. Sat, May 11: immediately after the race, fly with Colin and Dan Gurney to Heathrow in Colin’s Miles Messenger. Take flight to Chicago via New York. Change at Chicago for Indy. Check in to Speedway Motel. Begin testing Monday morning. Sat, May 18: Indy qualifying.  Leave Sunday, May 19, for London. Stay with Sir John Whitmore in Belgravia. Two days at the factory at Cheshunt. Wed, May 22 : fly to Nice from Heathrow. Check in to La Bananerie at Eze sur Mer. Thur, May 23-Sun May 26:  Monaco GP. Mon, May 27:  leave at 4:00am for London. Take flight to Chicago and then on to Indy. Thur, May 30: Indy 500. Fri, May 31: fly to Toronto and then drive on to Mosport. Sat, June 1: Players’ 200 sports car race (with Al Pease’s Lotus 23). Drive afterwards to Toronto. Take evening flight to London. Mon, June 3: Whitmonday Crystal Palace sports car race (Normand Lotus 23B). Wed, June 5: Leave London with Colin for Spa (Belgian GP).

In other words:  phew!  There was of course no internet back then; transatlantic phone calls were both a novelty and expensive.  Communications with the UK were via telexes and telegrams. Flight bookings were handled by Andrew Ferguson’s office in Cheshunt but re-arranged in the US by David Phipps.  And the tickets, of course, were big, carbon-copied wads of coupons. Jim’s black leather briefcase was literally jammed to the hilt.

There was little time, though, as one Indy issue followed another, to wonder if it would all be feasible.  If Jim didn’t qualify on the first weekend, for example – what would happen?  Would he miss Monaco or would he foresake Indy?  Given the powers behind the Indy effort – Ford, Firestone, etc – probably it would be Monaco.  For now, though, it was heads-down:  there was not a moment to spare – or even to think about the bigger problem.

In the midst of all this, Silverstone turned out to be a golden Saturday to be forever savoured. Thursday and Friday, by contrast, were best forgotten.  Dunlop were pushing R6 development to new frontiers;  Jim, as at Snetterton, found the Lotus 25 to be all over the place on the new tyres.  On a cold and windy Thursday, jet lag or no, he couldn’t find anything approaching a sweet spot with the car – and this was with exactly the chassis (R5) in which he’d been so quick at Aintree (on R5s).  He was only fifth that Thursday, focusing as he was on trying to make the car work just through Stowe and Club.   If he could find a balance there, he reasoned, then he could probably make up for deficiencies over the rest of the lap.

The mechanics – Jim Endruweit, Cedric Selzer Dick Scammell, Derek Wilde and the boys – worked through to six o’clock on Friday morning, rebuilding Jim’s car with yet another set-up change.   Perhaps, in addition, the rebuild might uncover a more fundamental chassis fault…

To no avail.  Saturday was cold and wet;  as all-weather as the new Dunlops undoubtedly were, little could be learned about a dry-weather balance.  The grid therefore being defined by Thursday’s times, Jim tried team-mate Trevor Taylor’s car for a few laps.  A spin at Copse capped an unremarkable day.  Innes Ireland, what’s more, would start from the pole in the BRP Lotus 24-BRM – a chassis that Jim had always liked.  Graham Hill was second in his trusty 1961/62 BRM, Bruce McLaren third in the new works Cooper and Jack Brabham fourth in his BT3, his engine down on power after a rushed rebuild.  Poor Dan Gurney had flown over with Jim from Indy but for him there would be no F1 debut with Brabham:  there was a dire shortage of Climax engines in this build up to the season proper, highlighted by Jack’s frequent runs up and down to Coventry.  Jack was more than ready to let Dan race the one and only BT3 at Silverstone but a short test at Goodwood confirmed that Dan was much too tall for Jack’s cockpit.  He would have to wait until Monaco to drive his tailor-made car.

This race was also notable for the appearance of the new 1963 Ferraris driven by John Surtees and Willy Mairesse.  Powered by regular V6 engines (with V8s rumoured to be on the way), the new cars showed glimpses of promise amidst predictable teething troubles.  This would be Surtees’ first F1 race for the Scuderia (and his first F1 race of the season;  the beautiful Lola GT, a forerunner of the 1964 Ford GT and a car with which Surtees had been closely involved form the outset, also had its maiden appearance this Silverstone weekend.  In a portent of the drama that was to explode three years later, Big John practiced the Lola on Thursday but was then forbidden by Ferrari from racing it on Saturday, even though the Sports Car Race was the last event of the day.  John appointed Tony Maggs in his place;  the South African started from the back of the grid and finished an excellent ninth.)

After Thursday’s all-nighter, and given the slight repairs that needed to be made to Trevor’s car after Jim’s spin, Colin decreed late on Friday afternoon that the boys should not overdo it.  “Just put everything back to standard on both cars.  Try to finish by nine. Get an early night.”

This they attempted.  After packing the 25s back into the transporter and driving it to their regular garage on the outskirts of Towcester, they race-prepared the cars to standard spec before repairing to their hotel, the Brave Old Oak, in time for a half-past-nine drink at the bar.   A “quick drink” then evolved into an all-nighter of a different kind – the liquid kind.  Come Saturday morning, as the bleary-eyed Team Lotus crew hustled their transporter through the early-race traffic, all the talk was of the blonde girl who worked behind the bar…Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden attended the 1963 International Trophy;  and the weather doffed its cap. A warm spring sun quickly replaced early cloud.  One hundred thousand spectators poured through Silverstone’s gates, filling the grandstands and the grass banks right around the circuit.  The British Grand Prix may have been but a couple of months in the future – here, at Silverstone – but the fans could not get enough.  A clear example of how less is definitely not more – providing the product is right. In the Team Lotus transporter, between laughs, Jim Clark reflected on the good news:  today they would forget the R6s.  They’d race R5s.  Dunlop wouldn’t like it but there you go.  A race is a race.A masterpiece of a race.  Jim started on the second row but was quickly up to second place, trailing his friend Bruce McLaren for a couple of laps before slicing past and pulling away.   Suddenly he had a Lotus 25 around him.  Suddenly he had balance and feel when on Thursday he been obliged to drive mainly on reflex, dumbing the understeer with induced flick oversteer.  Now he was four-wheel-drifting the 25 through Copse, Becketts, Stowe and Club.  Now he was using every inch of road through Woodcote and again past the pits, making the art of ten-tenths driving look sublimely simple.

18609.tifHe won it – and he won it with ease.  It was a Clark Classic on the old R5s in Lotus 25/R5.  Bruce finished second and Trevor drove well to make it a Team Lotus one-three.  Innes, quick all weekend, finished fourth – but not before recovering from a big spin at Woodcote, the thick tyre smoke of which effectively ushered-in a new era – the era of the soft-compound Dunlop R6.  Never before had rubber been so burnable – or so sticky.   Innes revolved the 24 at high speed – probably on oil dropped by the Surtees Ferrari, which eventually retired – but kept the car on the Ireland.  A few years before, the odds of that happening would have been too small even to contemplate.   Now, if we can combine those new grip levels with more compliant sidewalls, thought Jim and Colin, then we’ll definitely have a race tyre

It was a fun day, too.  Sir John Whitmore was again magnificent in the Cooper S;  Mike Beckwith won his class with the Normand Lotus 23B;  Jack Sears scored the first of his many wins with the big Ford Galaxie – a car that Jim had driven over at Indy, when he was filling in some time one quiet day at the Speedway; Jim in Galaxy '62Graham Hill won the GT race in John Coombs’ lightweight E-Type; and Denny Hulme again won the Formula Junior race in the factory Brabham, just beating David Hobbs and Paul Hawkins.  Earlier that week, Jack himself had driven the FJ car, helping Denny with set-up and with a few circuit pointers.  Then there was the business with the Miles Messenger.  Racing over, Jim and Dan piled into the cramped four-seat cockpit; bags were stuffed into the small luggage compartment (no room for the trophy!); Colin fired up the DeHaviland Gipsy engine, opened the throttle…and nothing happened.  The old four-seater remained bogged in the Stowe mud, its wheels intransigent.   Out jumped an amused Silverstone winner and his buddy, Dan  – and off, in a lighter Miles, set Colin.  Even as the little aeroplane was gathering speed, Jim and Dan were scambling aboard.

Four connections and 4,000 miles later, the two Team Lotus friends were at Indy, ready to test on a warm Monday morning.

Captions from top:  Dan Gurney, in new Hinchmans, Colin Chapman and Jim Clark, still in Dunlop blues, talk wheels and tyres early in the Indy month of May;  Jim fingertips 25/R5 out of Becketts en route to victory; late in ’62 Jim had fun at the Speedway with a road-going Mercury Monterey.  Images: LAT Photographic, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more on Hinchman overalls: http://hinchmanracewear.com

Clark second in Lombank Trophy

1963 Lombank Trophy.Jim Clark’s first race meeting of 1963 did not go particularly well.  After several hectic weeks in the US (at Ford’s proving ground in Arizona and then at Indy, where he lapped at just over 150mph) and, before that, at Snetterton, testing the gorgeous Lotus 29 Indy prototype car, 1963 Team Lotus Factory.Jim drove back along the A11 to the Norfolk circuit  for the Fourth Lombank Trophy F1 race.  Probably at some point, I  suspect, the new Honorary President of the Scottish Racing Drivers’ Club would have been smiling at the thought of the Club Lotus dinner he’d attended a few weeks before at the Taggs Island Casino, near Hampton Court. He, Jabby Crombac and Mike Beckwith had driven one of the new Elans onto the stage and the evening had ended with Colin Chapman being spruced up in a pair of blue nylon knickers… As would become the norm for races at Snett, Jim would be staying with Jack Sears in Jack’s farmhouse near the circuit – and he would refrain, of course, from making any long-distance calls to the US.  (On Saturday, March 30, 1963, it became possible for the first time to make direct calls between the UK and the US.)

This would be the second Snetterton race meeting promoted by the circuit’s new owners – Motor Circuit Developments (the first was a club meeting held on March 17) – and therefore by John Webb, whose airline, Webbair, had become a regular part of motor racing logistics since the late 1950s.  As a journalist, manager and, as I say, race promoter, Webb would in the 1960s and 1970s become one of the most influential figures in British motor sport.  With support from Grovewood Securities, the Grovewood Awards, to name but one of Webb’s creative ideas, would eventually pave the way for today’s Autosport Awards.

The Lombank Trophy was the first F1 race of the year – a non-championship race, to be sure, but a significant one nonetheless.   Lombank was one of several London-based financial “institutions” (as investment banks were known then!) to see the benefits of motor racing sponsorship, although by a certain irony this Snetterton race would be the first since one of Lombank’s major competitors – UDT Laystall – announced their withdrawal from F1.

Today we go into internet-fed panic mode whenever teams or sponsors pull out of the sport, or change hands, but 50 years ago the usual ruptures of the winter were accepted with good grace in the belief that something – or someone – better would come along.  One thing was clear, however:  Stirling Moss’s retirement now seemed permanent (following a test at Goodwood in early May, Stirling would make the decision final) and he was busy now re-inventing himself as a team owner/team manager/Ogle Associate Director; and gone, too, were the factory Porsche and Lola F1 teams.  Although General Motors also announced a unilateral withdrawal from motor sport in early March, 1963, one of the private entrants at Snetterton (Jim Hall) no doubt read this notice with a smile.   (Even as Jim drove his BRP Lotus 24-Climax with not a little natural speed, the idea of a secret GM-supported Chaparral was formulating in his fertile mind.  Jim had raced his be-finned and be-spoilered front-engined Chaparral at Sebring the weekend before;  and many, he knew, were the ideas he could take to GM. Looking back now, and remembering for how long Jim was a fixture at F1 races, it is staggering that no-one in F1 took serious note of the winged Chaparrals of 1966-67.  Even Jim Clark’s attempt to mount a rear spoiler on his Lotus 49 at Levin, in 1968, was immediately quashed by Colin Chapman.)

Porsche’s loss was Jack Brabham’s gain:  Dan Gurney signed over the winter to drive a second factory Brabham in 1963, and John Surtees stepped from Lola to Ferrari.  (I can’t help reflecting here that Jack Brabham “lent” Big John his personal Lotus 24 to race in the end-of-season, 1962, Mexican GP, for Bowmaker Lola were by then concentrating on the upcoming Australasian Series and entered only one Lola in Mexico for Roy Salvadori.  John promptly qualified the 24 on the second row, only fractionally slower than Trevor’s Lotus 25.  Brilliant. Surtees drove most of the New Zealand-Australia series for Bowmaker Lola but his place at Sandown Park, Melbourne, interestingly enough, was taken by Masten Gregory.  Tony Maggs finished third at Sandown in the last appearance of a Bowmaker Lola entry.)  ATS, led by former Ferrari engineer, Carlo Chiti, would also be entering F1 in 1963 with drivers Phil Hill, Giancarlo Baghetti and (for testing) Jack Fairman;  and this would also be the first race for Coventry Climax since being bought by Jaguar Cars Ltd.

The Lombank Trophy race (won in 1962 by Jim Clark) was held on Saturday, March 30, at 3:00pm, with practice taking place on Friday.  Public address commentary was in the care of the excellent Anthony Marsh, the recently-appointed Publicity Officer for Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Snetterton and the lynchpin, of course, of the Springfield Charity that still exists today.

Jim and Team Lotus had only recently lost the 1962 World Championship to Graham Hill and BRM.  No-one doubted that the monocoque Lotus 25 had been the quicker car in 1962 – but, since August, BRM’s Tony Rudd had been hard at work on his version of the Lotus “bathtub”.  Quickly, though, work at Bourne fell behind schedule.  The demands of the ’62 season in part accounted for the delay but in addition England was plagued by a ‘flu epidemic over the arctic-spec winter:  factory staff were thin on the ground and there was little or no back-up to replace them.  On top of that, BRM also began work on the radical Rover-BRM turbine programme for Le Mans.  As a result, BRM began the year with lighter versions of their reliable and very driveable P578 space-frame cars, albeit with slightly more powerful V8 engines.  They brought two to Snetterton, for Graham and for Richie Ginther, both of whom had been racing in the Sebring 12 Hours the weekend before.  Hill finished third there, sharing a Ferrari 330LM with Pedro Rodriguez, and Ginther sixth (Ferrari GTO, shared with Innes Ireland).   (These were the days of Boeing 707 intercontinental air travel, although turbo-props, such as the Lockheed Electra and Vickers Viscount, were still very much in use.)

Team Lotus entered two Lotus 25-Climaxes for Jim and his regular team-mate, Trevor Taylor but a shortage of engines (ie, one Climax V8 only!) rendered Trevor a non-starter.  Jim’s race engine, indeed, was way down on power.  Climax had planned to bring the new, 200bhp fuel-injected V8s to Snetterton for use by Lotus and Cooper but, like BRM, ran out of time.  Speaking of the Cooper Car Company of Surbiton, Surrey, Bruce McLaren flew from Sydney to the US after winning his fourth Australasian series race at Sandown Park, Melbourne with his Intercontinental Cooper-Climax – (this is a sad story, but I’ll tell it less we forget:  Bruce sold that car to Lex Davison, who raced it successfully in 1963-64 and who in turn then used it to enable the young and talented Rocky Tresise to make his career breakthrough in 1965.  Tresise died in a start-line accident at Longford with the Cooper, as did the talented Australian photographer, Robin d’Abrera;  it was Robin’s pin-sharp images that captured Bruce’s Sandown win in the Cooper for Autosport back in March, 1963) – and at Sebring raced the Briggs Cunningham Jaguar E-Type.  He finishing eighth there, partnered with Walt Hansgen.   Cooper entered only Bruce at Snetterton – again in a 1962 T60 car.   The interesting Cooper entry from Morris Nunn failed to appear;  and Jo Siffert pulled out after hitting a bank on the very wet practice day in his Filipinetti Lotus 24.

Jim, in  battle-scarred, dark blue, peakless Everoak helmet, 1965 Formula One World Championship.
was easily fastest on Saturday, lapping in 1min 44.4 in the torrential rain despite trouble starting the car (due to a lack of warm-up spark plugs).  Eventually the 25 was tow-started  into life. With Graham Hill’s BRM suffering from chronic fuel injection problems, Richie Ginther was next quickest (1min 46.8sec), followed by Bruce (1min 48.8sec), Innes Ireland in the BRP Lotus 24 and Innes’s team-mate, Jim Hall.

On Saturday the weather continued.  Snetterton became a quagmire of mud, rain, wind and spinning wheels.  There were no branded jackets back then, there was no North Face, no Timberland.  Instead, long raincoats, cloth caps and Wellington boots ruled the day. Les Leston’s racing umbrellas – each segment representing a marshal’s flag – were also at a premium.

Richie led from the line, using the superior torque of the BRM engine to full advantage, with Bruce second and Jim an initial third.  Jim quickly took second place at the hairpin – the left-hander at the end of the long back straight that runs parallel to the A11 – and passed Richie at the same place a few laps later.  Significantly, though, Richie was able to out-accelerate the Lotus.  All were running on the new Dunlop R6 but the traction advantage was with the BRMs.  Graham Hill had meanwhile flown through from the back of the grid.  He quickly passed Bruce and, now on a spray-free road, quickly caught Jim and Richie.  Jim took the lead and began to pull away – but then ran wide onto the grass while lapping a back-marker;  Richie again ran at the front.

There was no stopping Graham Hill.  Driving superbly in the rain, he passed both Richie and then Jim to win decisively.   Unhappy with his engine, and finding the 25 surprisingly skittish in the wet, Jim backed away and settled for second place.   Innes Ireland eventually finished third, although not without incident.  During his battle with Bruce, the pair of them had lapped Innes’ team-mate, Jim Hall.  Innes slipped past without problem but then, with hand signals to Hall, made it clear that he wanted his team-mate to hold up Bruce for a corner or three.  You can imagine if Fernando Alonso today suggested to Felipe Massa (running a lap behind) that he hold up Seb Vettel for 20 seconds or so.  As it was, Bruce afterwards dismissed the episode as “a legitimate team tactic”.  Such was Gentlemen Bruce.

The Lombank meeting boasted a superb support-race programme.  The World Champion was also victorious in the 25-lap sports car race with John Coombs’ lightweight Jaguar E-Type (ahead of the Cooper Monaco of Roy Salvadori, now retired from F1); Roy made up for that by winning the Jaguar 3.8 battle in the 25-lap Touring Car race, gaining revenge on Graham Hill (who fought his way back from sixth place).  Mike Salmon, also in a 3.8, finished third.  Both Normand Racing Lotus 23s (driven by Mike Beckwith and Tony Hegbourne) had looked quick in the sports car event but eventually, in the wet, had to cede position to Alan Foster’s amazing MG Midget.  It should be noted that Frank Gardner also raced the new Brabham BT8 sports car at Snetterton, winning the 1151cc-2000cc class.

I mention the Normand Lotus 23s because Jim signed over the winter to race for Normand whenever his schedule allowed.  Just such an opening would appear at the BARC’s Oulton Park Spring Meeting on Saturday, April 6.

Full report next week.

Pictures: LAT Photographic and writer’s archiveS2390001

It’s 1963 and the season’s under way…


Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the countdown widget on the right, entitled “Fifty Years Ago”, is actually keyed to an upcoming race that happened in 1963 – in this case the Lombank Trophy race at Snetterton on March 30.

The reason for this is twofold:  one, it’s 50 years since that amazing year when Jim Clark won 70 per cent of the F1 championship rounds to secure his first World Championship.  Along the way, he also finished second in the Indy 500, won numerous non-championship F1, sports, GT and touring car events and, together with Colin Chapman’s low-line, monocoque Lotus 25, changed the face of motor racing in general.

The second reason is because 1963 and 2013 share the same days – ie, February 15 was a Friday in both years.  Because of that, and because I’ve always been fascinated by how a driver like Clark managed to cram so much racing into such a tight schedule, I’m going to try to take us through Clark’s 1963 season as 2013 unfolds.  Thus the reference to Snetterton on March 30: it was Clark’s first race of the season.  We can think of it as we think of it now – as a Saturday in (hopefully!) the early British spring.

Let me begin, then, by bringing you up to speed:  the 1962 season ended with a classic showdown in East London, South Africa.  Jim and Graham Hill went into the December 29 finale knowing that only one could win – and the title went to Hill.  Jim was leading when a bolt worked loose.  The engine slowly lost its oil.  Jim, Colin and Hazel Chapman and the Team Lotus mechanics could only sit and watch from the pits as Graham cruised to victory.

There was little time, though, for post-mortems – not that they happened much in 1962.  For most drivers, a mechanical retirement was more likely than a reliable finish;  and, after a while, as Dan Gurney once said, you got used to the disappointments.  “It was just one of those things that happen in motor racing and it couldn’t be helped,” said Jim at the time.  “Graham had become World Champion deservedly.”

Jim returned immediately to the UK while many of his peers travelled on to New Zealand and Australia for the international series.  (Graham, as newly-crowned World Champion, was obliged to spend 12 hours in quarantine in Karachi due to a flight delay – he had no yellow fever inoculation – and then contracted tonsillitis in New Zealand.  He returned to England for an operation, leaving his Ferguson in the hands of Innes Ireland, and then flew back to Australia for the Feb 10 AGP at Warwick Farm.)  I’m not exactly clear why Jim didn’t compete in the Antipodies that January/February.  Team Lotus had given him a one-off drive in a Lotus 21 at Sandown Park, Victoria, in March, 1962, but didn’t enter the 1963 series in either New Zealand or Australia.  I suspect this was because Colin Chapman had decided to put a massive effort into the new Indianapolis 500 programme and had scheduled early-year tests for the new Lotus 29 in both in the UK and the USA.   The Ford-powered Indy car ran first at Snetterton in February, where it was set up with normal, symmetric suspension.  “To my mind, the engine we had in for that first test didn’t go too well, because the timing was a little out,” Jim told Alan Brinton.  “But though we were a trifle disappointed with the power, the car was certainly quicker on the straights than anything I’d driven before.  Even in this state the prototype comfortably broke my existing 2.5 litre lap record by a couple of seconds.”

Almost immediately afterwards, Jim flew to Ford’s high-speed proving ground in Kingman, Arizona, a circuit Jim described as “a beautiful track, about five miles around, with two banked curves each of about 1.25 miles.”  Dan Gurney, who had instigated the Lotus Indy programme, and who was to race a second Lotus 29 at Indy, was also present at the Kingman tests.  “We lapped at about 165 mph without using much of the banking,” recalled Jim.  “It was quite a change after the F1 Lotus and made for exciting driving.”

Those runs complete, Jim then returned to the UK – to Edington Mains, his farm on the Scottish Borders. 08-26-2010_53 He would move to a London base in 1964 but in 1963 his home was still in Scotland – and frequent were his road trips to and from the Lotus factory in Cheshunt.  The Lotus Elan had yet to be released so, for now, Jim was driving a prototype Lotus-Cortina.  “A number of development Lotus-Cortinas were built but when the model was announced in January, 1963, there was just the one vehicle built to the proper specification,” he wrote in Jim Clark at the Wheel.  “As it turned out, the Lotus-Cortinas were not raced until late in the season – but they proved to be worth waiting for.   I had already tried the Harry Mundy-inspired twin-cam engine in an Anglia in 1962 and I first drove a Cortina with a 140bhp version of the same engine in October, 1962.   It really surprised me and gave me just about as much of a thrill as the F1 car.  On the way to Snetterton for trials I thought the acceleration was out of this world for a family saloon but on the circuit for the first time I found the handling a bit odd.  That afternoon we had a good chuckle at Colin.  He decided to take the car round just after a short rain shower.  He left the pits and then suddenly there was silence.  We climbed into our cars and tore around the circuit to find Colin standing there, peering under the bonnet of the Cortina, muttering something about the engine cutting out.  I happened to notice some criss-cross tyre marks on the road behind him, so I sidled up to him, suggesting that perhaps an ignition lead had probably come loose when he had spun the car.  He turned bright red and admitted that he hadn’t been sure which had happened first!”

We’ll report next from the 50-lap, 133-mile non-championship F1 Lombank Trophy at Snetterton, where the entry includes two works BRMs for Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, a single Team Lotus entry for Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren in the works Cooper and two BRP Lotus 24s for Innes Ireland and Jim Hall (of future Chaparral fame).    I see also that Morris Nunn is entered in a Cooper;  it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.  Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori head the Saloon Car field with their 3.8 Jaguars (although Sir John Whitmore should be spectacular in the works Mini-Cooper) and the new World Champion will be out again in the 25-lap Sports Car race, this time in the John Coombs Jaguar E-Type.  Can’t wait.

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