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Archive for the tag “Indy 500”

Jim Clark and the 1964 Month of May

From the Silverstone International Trophy, Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman flew straight to Indianapolis for testing of the new quad-cam Ford-engined Lotus 43s. In the photo album below we follow Jim’s progress through the month of May – back to Europe for the Monaco GP on May 10; to the US again for Indy qualifying on May 16; to Mallory Park and then Crystal Palace for May Bank Holiday racing; to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP on May 24; and then back to Indy for the 500 on May 30 (Memorial Day – a Thursday in 1964).   That’s three big races in one month – with F2 and sports car meetings and lots of testing in addition.  Images: LAT Photographic and The Henry Ford

 

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Upon arrival at Indy on the Monday after Silverstone, Jim was annoyed to find that his car wasn’t ready. He thus sat out the first day of testing, listening-in to Dan Gurney’s reports. In the foreground, Colin Chapman applies some tank tape to the 43’s bodywork joins. Note that Dan here is running Jim’s aeroscreen

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Still in casual trousers but now wearing the top half of his Dunlop overalls, Jim chats to Jack Brabham during that first day of Indy testing. Jack has just won the International Trophy at Silverstone and is running his own Offy-powered car at the Speedway. Note the asymmetric suspension and the fuel tank on the left side only

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Much of the discussion at the test is whether Lotus should run Firestones or Dunlops. The British tyres are quicker but show early signs of chunking. Dunlop’s Dick Jeffries confirms that new batches will be made for the race and so Lotus, after much deliberation – and after asking the Firestone personnel to make a special trip to Indy for meetings! – decide to race Dunlops

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It’s now the Tuesday of the Indy tests and Jim watches as Dan lowers himself into the blue-and-white Lotus 43-Ford, windscreen now converted to “Dan-spec”. Colin, clipboard in hand, stands left and on the right, holding a pyrometer, is Dunlop’s Vic Barlow

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Jim finally gets to run and is immediately up to speed, matching Parnelli Jones’ 155 mph laps with apparent ease. He’s also wearing a new Bell helmet with the peak painted in dark blue rather than the regular Border Reivers white. He would race with this peak at Mallory, Crystal and Zandvoort (but not at Monaco, where he raced peakless) before reverting to a white peak for the Indy 500 on May 30

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Aside from Dan and the roadsters of AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones, major opposition at Indy would also come from the very talented Bobby Marshman. Driving one of the 1963 Lotus 29s updated with the four-cam Ford, Marshman, with Chapman’s blessing, did much of the four-cam testing and proved to be very quick at Indy throughout the month of May

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Following the indecent speed of the Lotus-Fords in 1963, something of a war was waged at Indy in ’64 – front-engined versus rear, Firestone versus Dunlop, Offys versus Fords. This note sums up the home support for Parnelli and his Firestone-tyred, front-engined roadster

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Although sponsored by Pure fuel and oils in 1963, Lotus switched to the American version of Esso in 1964. Here Colin Chapman stands by the Enco (as it was known) refuelling rig in Gasoline Alley

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Colin Riley (left) chats to a Ford mechanic prior to an engine change. Note the little-used dart board in the Team Lotus garage…

 

1964 Monaco Grand Prix

Jim and Dan missed Friday practice at Monaco but in the case of the World Champion it made little difference. He qualified on the pole and was leading easily when his Monaco nemesis again intervened. First, the right rear roll-bar mounting broke on the Lotus 25. Jim called in quickly to have the complete bar removed – and still could have won but for an engine failure later in the race. His adaptation to the 25’s handling problem was remarkable

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A lovely LAT shot of Jim lifting a wheel at the exit from Casino Square during practice

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The right roll-bar mounting broke early in the Monaco GP, when Jim was pulling away from the pack with ease. Many observers believe the failure was caused on the first lap, when Jim brushed the straw bales at the fast exit of the chicane. I doubt this for two reasons: one, it was the right-hand-side that broke and, two, Jim states in the updated version of his autobiography that it was later proved back at the factory that the failure would have occurred regardless of whether he’d skimmed a wall or not. The design was subsequently modified

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Jim, Colin and Dan flew straight back to the States after Monaco – another 4:30am wake-up call on the Monday after the race! – for Indy qualifying. Jim took the pole with a record four-lap average of 156.406 mph, then flew straight back to England to race the Ian Walker Lotus 30 at Mallory Park. A police escort helped him up the M1 motorway in the Bank Holiday traffic; he duly won the race (the only win for the 30); and then he drove back to Balfour Place with Sally in his white Radbourne Elan

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Jim had won two-out-of-two so far with the F2 Ron Harris Lotus 32-Cosworth but at Crystal Palace on May 18 he ran into engine problems. The glory on this occasion went to the young Austrian, Jochen Rindt, although both David Hobbs (MRP Merlyn) and Graham Hill (John Coombs Cooper) were also very quick. Here Jim glides the 32 through the shadow and light of London’s own circuit

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Jim made up for that disappointment by again having a ball with the Ford Lotus Cortina. He won his class at Crystal and is shown here in characteristic, early-1964 understeer pose

Formula One World Championship

Jim drove his first Grand Prix at Zandvoort in 1960 – and was quick from the start. He raced the shark-nosed Ferraris hard there in 1961; he should have won there in 1962, when he debuted the new Lotus 25; and he won easily in Holland in 1963. In 1964 the pattern continued: Jim won the race at a canter. Note the tan Jim Clark driving gloves, that dark blue peak and the masking tape to protect him from flying stones

1964 Dutch Grand Prix.

Dick Scammell checks the rear of Jim’s Lotus 25 on the Zandvoort grid while Colin gets the low-down. Behind, Bruce McLaren settles into the works Cooper while John Surtees, with Maruo Forghieri to his left, adjusts his helmet

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Detail of the masking tape used by Jim at Zandvoort in 1964. He would use similar taping at Indy six days later

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A study in concentration – on this occasion taken by Gary Bramstein, a US serviceman who in 1964 attended several European F1 races and is a massive Jim Clark fan

 

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Special interior of the Radbourne Elan Jim used in 1964. Note additional switches on centre console and plush steering wheel boss

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Jim had already made three separate trips to Indy before he finally returned for the race proper on Thursday, May 30, 1964. Exhausted by then thanks to the constant attention, the waiting around and the endless travel, Jim, like everyone, nonetheless became a part of it all when the marching bands struck up their tunes

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With the gentlemen having started their engines, Jim, now with white peak, sets off for the pace laps. Eventual winner, AJ Foyt, is on the left and Bobby Marshman, who qualified second is behind. It was a capacity crowd

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Dave MacDonald, the very talented American whom Jim knew well from the sports car series in the previous winter, qualified 14th in Mickey Thompson’s unwieldy, wide Ford rear-engined car, the Allstate Special.  Its bodywork was much-altered by race day, featuring trim tabs and scoops front to rear.  A glass-fibre-encased 45 gal fuel tank, containing nitro and other exotics, sat on the left of the driver

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Indy veteran, Eddie Sachs, drove this Ford rear-engined Hallibrand special sponsored by Red Ball, the company that would ride to victory with Graham Hill in 1966

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After gaining places right at the start, the brilliant Dave MacDonald was killed at Turn 4 on the lap when he spun into the angled extension of the inner pit retaining wall. The car exploded into flames and bounced into the path of oncoming cars

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Eddie Sachs, who first raced at The Speedway in 1953, died when he tried to squeeze between MacDonald’s burning car and the outer wall. He hit the Allstate Special broadside. Both Johnny Rutherford and Jack Brabham drove through the inferno – and both had the perspicacity to accelerate onwards, using the slipstream of their cars to extinguish the flames

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The crowd’s reaction says it all as the flames and smoke tell a terrible story

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After a 90 minute delay, during which time he just sat by his car, back against a front wheel, Jim Clark again took the lead of the Indy 500. He was soon under tremendous pressure from Marshman, however – as seen here. It was Bobby’s consistently low line that settled the issue: he grounded-out the engine, causing an oil leak

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As at Monaco, Jim then looked set for victory…only to run into trouble of a different kind: those Dunlops began to vibrate and then to chunk – and the rear suspension broke as a result. After a nasty moment on the home straight, Jim slid the 34 to a halt on the Turn 1 infield

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A traumatic day ends with a walk back to Gasoline Alley. Jim peels off his gloves while doing his best to accommodate well-wishers

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Jim’s 34 after its rear suspension failure. Note chunking on the left-rear tread. Thus ended Jim’s Month of May (50 years ago). It was violent and in many ways it was disappointing. There was no time to stop or to think, however, for he was a professional racing driver. The next race beckoned: the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa on the ultra-fast circuit that he’d disliked since 1958

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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The ups of Sauber, the brilliance of Mike Conway…

…and the tough past few races for Sahara Force India

On this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge I managed to catch up with the loquacious Tom McCullough of Doncaster, otherwise known as the Head of Track Engineering for the Sauber F1 Team. Tom joined Sauber late last year after several years on the pit wall with Williams and quickly made his mark.  He knew Nico Hulkenberg from his Willliams days, of course, but the rest of the challenge was all new:  new country, new people, new methodologies.  As I hope you will hear in the interview, Tom is one of those engineers who adapts quickly and loves his craft. It’s no surprise, indeed, that he has helped to convert Sauber’s mundane start to the season into one of the big talking-points of the past few weeks. The only question I didn’t ask, to be sure, is why Williams let him go in the first place – but I guess that’s another subject for another day. I also quiz Sahara Force India’s Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, about his team’s corresponding fall from pace. It’s linked to the mid-season change in Pirelli tyre constructions – but Otmar talks, too, about how F1 needs to retain it’s “unique” quality. “It’s done a good job of this in the past,” he says, “but now is the time to develop that further. F1 faces competition from a lot of other sports and entertainments. If we are going to continue to develop sponsorships for teams up and down the grid, we need to ensure that F1 sustains that ‘unique’ feel.”

I was also able to talk on-line with the brilliantly-talented Englishman, Mike Conway. Back in 2006, Mike seemed destined for F1 stardom. He dominated F3 not only during the season but also with wins at Pau and Macau. Think opponents like Romain Grosjean (and Lewis Hamilton in Formula Renault) and you have an idea of the standards about which we’re talking. His GP2 seasons dragged a little…and suddenly the momentum was lost. Mike turned his attention to IndyCar – and in 2010 he was very lucky to escape with recoverable injuries from a huge accident at Indianapolis. Mike, though, is a fighter who loves his craft just as much as Tom McC above. Despite shaking the US racing fraternity by announcing at the end of 2012 that he was no longer prepared to race on ovals, Mike this year has finally achieved the sort of results worthy of his skills. He scored a win and a third in the two Detroit IndyCar races and he’s just won the last two LMP2 races at Interlagos and Austin in an Oreca-Nissan run by Alan Docking. (Oreca is owned by Hughes de Chaunac, who used to run Martini in the days of Rene Arnoux.) Mike’s versatile, he’s quick, he’s now a globally-successful racing driver who is paid to do something he enjoys –  and he’s just bought an old, 1960s VW Beetle, complete with white sidewall tyres and roofrack.  Need I say more.

Episode 32 of The Racer’s Edge.  Enjoy.

Our lifeblood

With all the travelling at present it’s taken a while to put together some of my memories from Goodwood, 2013.  In short, it was a magnificent event.  I don’t think we’re ever going to see as many Jim Clark cars  together again in one place.  To me, none of this represents “the past”.  Instead, it is our lifeblood;  it is what motor racing was, and still is, all aboutIMG_0666IMG_0808IMG_0671IMG_0675IMG_0673IMG_0734IMG_0751IMG_0763IMG_0788IMG_0748IMG_0856

Captions, from top: One of the most significant racing cars of all time: Jim Clark’s 1965 Indy-winning Lotus 38-Ford.  Trucked over to the Ford Museum straight after the race, it has only recently been again fired-up and restored; wearing a new set of Hinchman overalls (complete with Enco badge), and of course Jim Clark driving gloves, Dario Franchitti took the 38 for a few laps of Goodwood; the Lotus 56 Turbine Indy car of 1968 – futuristic then, as now.  Jim tested the 56 after the Tasman Series and was looking forward to racing it in May; cockpit of Jim Clark’s 1966 US GP-winning Lotus 43-BRM. The car’s new owner, Andy Middlehurst, was aware that Jock Russell (who bought the car from Team Lotus in 1967) quickly discarded the original, red, upholstery and replaced it with a tartan job (!) but was delighted to find that the  the seat and interior that Jim had used at the Glen in ’66 were still in perfect condition in Jock’s barn.  They are in the car now;  the Lotus 43-BRM in its glory.  The amazingly complex 3-litre H16 engine started virtually first turn and ran perfectly at Goodwood;  a beautiful restoration job, too, on a 1.5 litre flat-12, 1965 Ferrari.  It would have been great to have seen this car in blue-and-white NART colours but someone at Ferrari (Maranello) demanded that it be painted red before heritage papers could be issued. Shame; grid-side view of Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss in the Border Reivers Aston DBR31/300 with which Jim Clark and Roy Salvadori finished third at Le Mans in 1960;  Jim’s girl-friend at the time, Sally Stokes (now Swart), holds the Heuer stopwatch that Jim gave her in early 1964.  Jim had been presented with this watch at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show and Sally used it on the Team Lotus pit stand throughout ’64-’65.  It still works perfectly; three road cars much-used by Jim Clark:  the 1961-’62 Hobbs-automatic-transmission Lotus Elite; his 1967 left-hand-drive Lotus Elan S3; and Ian Scott-Watson’s 1965 Elan S3, build by Jock McBain’s boys and used by Jim up in Scotland throughout that summer of ’65; it was brilliant to see again a 1963 Australian-made Lynx Formula Junior (left). To my eye, this is still one of the most beautiful little racing cars ever built; and it’s always a special treat to see real drivers in real cars.  Here’s Sir John Whitmore in a factory Lotus Cortina. Images: Peter Windsor Collection

 


“Where’s Clark…?”

THF110901_JimClark-DanGurney-Trenton200_09-22-1963Incredibly, amazingly, Jim Clark and Dan Gurney arrived at the venerable Trenton State Fairgrounds in New Jersey ready to qualify and to race.  They had slept for but a couple of hours at the nearby team motel;  Oulton Park already seemed an age away.  Both would drive their Indy and Milwaukee Lotus 29-Fords, although on this occasion the exhausts had been angled skywards in physical testimony to the sheer speed of the two rear-engined cars.  At both of the preceding races, the drivers of the higher, front-engined roadsters had complained about the fumes caused by the lower exhaust flows from the two little Lotus.  As it was by now clear that the older cars would inevitably be trailing the 29s, Colin Chapman (and designer Len Terry) agreed to re-angle the exhausts upwards.  The ungainly mod (which also, as it turned out, provided a performance boost!) would thereafter be a reminder of all that was achieved by Team Lotus in America in 1963.

For coverage of the Trenton 200 I can do no better than to hand over to that excellent American writer, John Hearst Jnr, and to (the sadly now defunct) Sports Car Digest:

“The two-lap qualifications proved to be almost as exciting as the race itself,” wrote Hearst. “Knowing voices said that AJ Foyt’s one-lap record of 106.635 mph could not be beaten, for conditions weren’t ‘right’.  Clouds polka-dotted the sky and outnumbered the sun.  The day was cold and brisk, and the long grass in the infield was beaten flat by a gusty wind.  The wind.  That would be the problem.

“And it was…for some.  Indy roasters and ‘spring cars’ made two laps apiece.  Each driver fought to stay in the blacker part of the grey asphalt ribbon: ‘the groove’.  Some were quick and skillfull while others worked with arms flailing and right foot stabbing in a furious exhibition of over/under oversteer.  A couple reached the point of no return as their mounts went into gut-wrenching, rubber-burning slides.

“Dan Gurney’ (whose engine now had the 48mm longitudinal Weber carburettors) “took his turn.  Dressed in plain overalls, with black helmet and leather face mask, first thoughts were, ‘He must have come to the wrong place!’ The little blue-and-white car sang its way around once, and then again.  Accelerating earlier, and backing-off earlier, Dan made it all look so easy as he averaged 109.024 mph.  AJ Foyt, 28 years old and twice USAC Champion, could manage no more than a shrug as his record fell.

“Minutes later, Jim Clark took his turn with a flourish, provided by promoter Sam Nunis.  A local bagpipe band huffed and wheezed at ‘Scotland, the Brave’ as Clark, in his green-and-yellow car, was pushed out before the cheering fans on the grandstand straight.  All work stopped.  Wrenches were laid aside and heads came out from beneath raised hoods.  Everyone knew what was going to happen.

“The crowd became silent.  The only sounds were the skirling pipes and the wind.  Then came the hum of the starter motor, followed by the high-pitched wail of the unmuffled, pushrod Ford V8.  The young Scot was given a shove to engage first, and he was away.

“The air held one sound:  a note that worked itself higher and higher up the scale.  The car seemed to float around the track others had made appear so bumpy.  Green flag, white flag and then the checker.  It was over, and everyone knew – but by how much?

“Clark had just lowered Gurney’s newly-set record by 0.332 mph when he turned the mile over in 33.02 seconds, and was over 3 mph faster than Foyt’s old record.

“A weak smile was all that was offered in return as one roadster owner turned to his driver and cracked, ‘How do you spell ‘For Sale’?’

“Finally, the 26 starters were assembled, started and pushed away on the first of four warm-up laps.  On the pole was Clark and next to him was Gurney.  Both stifled yawns, for both had spent the night flying the Atlantic.  Both had won races at Oulton Park the previous day and Gurney the previous weekend had won at Bridgehampton, where he had been the first to drive an American car, the Shelby Cobra, to victory in a World Manufacturers’ Championship race.

“The green flag was waved furiously and a roar shook the earth as 26 cars accelerated as one.  Yet the sound of the Lotus-Fords was unmistakable, for they were two trumpets in an orchestra of tubas.  Appearing comparatively relaxed, Clark and Gurney, nose to tail, pulled away from the 24 others.  At first only a second, then two, then five, soon to be seven, ten, twelve, and more.

“Meanwhile others were having their problems.  On lap six, Rodger Ward saw his USAC Championship hopes fizzle when a fuel line burst, covering him with the volatile stuff.  Next to quit was Jim Hurtubise, whose fuel-laden car was bottoming through the turns.  When the seat pan started to wear away, Jim started getting a little warm.  Then his gas tank ruptured and Jim wisely gave up.  Speechmaker Eddie Sachs retired, to be joined five laps later by Indy winner Parnelli Jones, whose magneto went sour.

“By now, Clark led Gurney and 12 seconds, who in turn led Foyt by 10 seconds.  Clark had lapped every car in the field except Foyt.  That was lap 49.  On lap 50 everyone looked at everyone else and finally someone said it:  ‘Where’s Clark?’

“The young Scot had pulled into the pits.  A glance at his oil pressure gauge brought him in, and an ever-growing puddle of black under his car kept him in.  Through for the day, the primrose-yellow-overalled driver” (the Hinchmans!) “climbed atop a nearby truck and joined Rodger Ward as a spectator.  Englishman Colin Chapman, builder of the Lotus-Fords, stood by as the crew removed the engine cover, revealing a ruptured four-inch hose, used to join the chassis oil tube to the cast-aluminium ‘Fairlane’ engine.  Unceremoniously, the car was shoved into its van.

“Gurney calmly kept his mount in first place.  Foyt, however, closed the gap to seven seconds as three Offy types put Dan in a neat little box for some five laps. When they became committed to a line in a turn, he changed his, and eventually picked them off, one at a time.  The Lotus held the upper hand.

“Mounting elation suddenly turned to depression for on lap 147 Gurney was followed down the main straight by a large cloud of white smoke.  Dan backed off and cars he had just lapped, some for the fifth and sixth time, came streaming by him.  Silently, with engine cut, he pulled into pit lane as Foyt, with a quick glance to the left, accepted the lead.  Gurney’s acute disappointment was mirrored in the faces of his crew.  And for many of the fans, the race was over, for they had come to ‘…See the Fabulous Lotus-Fords!  See Jim Clark! See Dan Gurney!’

“An oil seal on an accessory drive on the front of the block had let go, causing Dan’s retirement.  This was the reason given by one Ford representative (of almost 50 present) after almost an hour of searching by Chapman and crew.

“Foyt led for the remaining 53 laps.  He not only won the race but the USAC Championship for the third time in his career.  Over a lap behind, and finishing second and third, were Bud Tinglestad and Troy Ruttman, who brought the remaining crowd to their fee with some hearty dicing.  It was a good race and an exciting race but for many it was over back on lap 147.

“Only ten cars finished.  Foyt’s share of the $42,210 purse was nearly $12,000, which might just b e enough for a down-payment on a Lotus-Ford.  Chapman said (and a Ford PR man verified it) that he will build cars for private owners after he fulfils his primary commitment to Ford.   He refused, at present to state a price.  And, according to a Dunlop tyre man who was present, the R6s the cars were shod with showed very little wear at Trenton and ‘…may be the answer to a no-change Indy’.

“When a Ford man was asked if these cars would run again next year at Indy, the answer was ‘No!’. When asked why, he answered, ‘…’cause we’re going to build new ones.’  The 1963 cars will be used for display and research and development.

“The capper of the day came when one railbird remarked that he didn’t think the Lotus-Ford were really that amazing after all.  ‘Hell,’ he explained, ‘a guy in track shoes can beat a guy in combat boots any day of the week.”

Thanks again to Sports Car Digest for John’s reporting in the way of the classic, 1960s US sportswriter.

Additional notes:  Dan would have at least been cheered by Troy Ruttman’s third place because he still rates Troy as one of the great, hidden-away American talents.  (Ruttman won the 1952 Indy 500 at the age of 22 and showed his versatility with a strong Maserati 250F drive in the 1958 French GP at Reims.)  With Jim’s hectic schedule precluding any sort of consistent commitment to a 1963-64 US test programme, young Bobby Marshman was duly hired by Team Lotus (financed by Lindsey Hopkins) to carry out development work on the new double overhead-cam engines. There was also talk after Trenton that the two Lotus failures had been indirectly caused by incidents during the shipping of parts.  This was later rescinded when it was discovered that on Dan’s car a piston had fractured and thus damaged the oil line – but this does give a flavour of the sort of differences that quickly grew between Ford and Lotus (and between the Americans and the British).  Hearst’s report, indeed, is remarkable for its objectivity. In most contemporary American publications, and particularly over at Car and Driver, the emphasis was very much on the Ford-Lotus cars, with Lotus, in the main, considered to be lucky, and slightly unworthy, partners.  Sports Car Digest, by contrast, was a brilliant mix of Americana and Bernard Cahier. Need I say more.

So ended Jim’s 1963 American oval racing season.  A win and a second.  He would return to Trenton – and Indy, of course – in 1964.

“It had been hard work and a great deal of travelling for just three races,” he would write later in Jim Clark at the Wheel, “but it was worth it in the results we gained and the impact we made.  I now have an ambition to drive the Lotus 29 on a road circuit but I suppose that dream will have to wait.”

Jim would, of course, drive the 1965 Lotus 38 Indy car up the Ste Ursanne hill-climb, as we have described elsewhere on these pages, but in 1963, after the US and Mexican GPs, there were American sports car races still to pursue.  From New Jersey, meanwhile, the new World Champion took a 707 back to England for a different kind of race:  the Snetterton Three Hours with the Normand Racing Lotus 23B.

Personal trainer?  Gym?  Nutritionist?  “Racing keeps me fit,” said Jim.  “Racing and getting to races.  There’s no time for anything else.”22259.tif

Captions (from top):  looking slightly less elegant thanks to its angled exhausts, the Lotus 29-Fords nonetheless set the pace at Trenton.  Jim, wearing his regular, peakless Bell Magnum but on this occasion (as per the USAC regularions) a shoulder harness, was leading easily before an oil leak forced his retirement; Dan then took over in the blue-and-white car – but retired with a broken piston.  Note that they are running the same Dunlop-Halibrand wheel combination as Milwaukee; Dan Gurney, on board a 707, gives some idea of what it was like in 1963, when trans-Atlantic crossings were for drivers like Dan and Jim Clark as frequent as trips to the local market.  Economy class was a little more spacious back then; the seat backs included a serious reading light; and everyone dressed for the occasion, regardless of the route or the timings Photographs: Ford Motor Company and LAT Photographic

It was initially difficult to find images from the 1963 Trenton 200.  I wrote to most of the leading US journalists for leads;  I contacted local, New Jersey, newspapers and agencies.  No luck.  Then, the day after the above report was published, I received this bundle (below) from the Ford Motor Company.  To say I’m delighted is massively to under-state.  Finally, we can gain a picture of what it was like back then on the track that is no longer.  Look at the old grandstand; look at Jim Endruweit and the Lotus mechanics, all neat in green.  Look at the sandy infield;  look at the Fairground in the background.  Look at the 29s out there in the groove.  That’s the rear-engined Kurtis-Offy of the  Canadian, Ed Kostenuk, that Jim is lapping.  That looks like the nose of Parnelli’s Watson on the right as Jim’s 29 is pushed backwards down the pit lane – and that’s Roger McCluskey’s Vita Fresh Orange Juice Special behind Jim’s car at bottom.  Again, many thanks to FoMoCo.

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“Very good! What can I say?”

While trolling through the YouTube library today I came across this recently-uploaded gem.  Thanks, straight way, to Patrick Pagnier for its discovery.  It’s a little cameo interview conducted for Swiss TV by Jo Bonnier on August 22, 1965.  Jo Siffert, fresh from his spectacular F1 win at Enna the previous Sunday, sits on Bonnier’s left while Jim Clark lies back in a replica of his Indy 500-winning Lotus 38-Ford prior to a “demonstration run” up the formidable Ste Ursanne-Les Rangiers hill-climb, south-west of Basle.  Jim never took these sorts of events half-heartedly, of course.  His early days in Scotland were filled with autotests and hill-climbs, and he climbed an F1 Lotus 21 (a difficult Filipinetti car) at Ollon-Villars in 1962 before returning to Switzerland again with the Indy car in ’65.  It seems amazing today that Jim would go along with the concept of threading the big four-cam, 500bhp Lotus Indy car up between the unprotected pine trees over three miles of semi-wet road, through very fast sweepers and unguarded hairpins, but such was the character of the man.  As he says in the interview, it was “different”.   For this event, Lotus converted the 38 back to symmetric suspension and fitted a five-speed ZF gearbox, so in this sense, too, there was more than a hint of seriousness about the performance.

Despite having no chance of outright victory, Jim was determined to put on a show for the vast crowds.  He completed six practice runs with the 38 on a dry-ish Saturday, the best of which was only four seconds slower than the much more suitable Rob Walker Brabham BT7-BRM of Jo Siffert, but his heart would have sunk on Sunday, when rain shrouded the mountains.  Still on its dry, Indy-spec Firestones, the 38 was virtually undriveable.  Even so, Clark gave it his all and finished the day – and the event as a whole – with a climb in 2min 36.9sec (or about 10sec slower than Siffert).  Words like “Wheelspin” and “opposite lock” don’t even begin to do justice to his performance.    Jim looks typically shy in this video and he shows his humility when Bonnier asks him about Siffert’s recent win at Enna.   “Very good!  What can I say?” replies Jim – although a driver of today’s times might then also have added “but then you have to remember that they dropped the flag early, I was caught in neutral, I drove up through the field, caught Seppi (Siffert) and only lost out because his BRM engine had more top end power than the Climax – particularly on lighter tanks.”  He said none of that, though.  Instead, as you can see, he just laughs.  (Mind you, Siffert also beat Jim in the 1964 Mediterranean GP at Enna, so Jim had an excuse to be non-plussed!)  Jo Bonnier, incidentally, also drove a Rob Walker Brabham (Climax) up the Ste Ursanne hill.  He finished fourth.

Enjoy then, this little chat.  Note the “Jim Clark” name across the 38’s number roundel in the first few seconds of the video and the boys in the background working on a lightweight Lotus Elan.

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