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Archive for the tag “Indy 500”

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.

THF110896_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110898_JimClark-ChuckRogee-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110899_JimClark-DanGurney-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110900_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110902_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963

“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.

Jim Clark – Rookie of the Year

As we continue Jim Clark’s 1963 season as it happened, race by race, we find Jim back at Indy – this time for the 500 proper.  Monaco, on May 26, already seems an age away…S2580001

They made it back to Heathrow, Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman – and then onwards to New York, Chicago and Indianapolis.  The frustrations of Monaco, by the time they checked-in to the Speedway Motel, already seemed an age away.  Now Jim was in another world – a world he wasn’t sure was him but which he saw as part of his professional life.  Interview after interview, autograph after autograph.  At the Team Lotus garage in Gasoline Alley the talk, as the race approached, was of pit stops, tyre wear and fuel consumption.  Lotus were set on a one-stop race.  The quick Offys, they knew, would probably have to stop three times.

In practice, Jim Endruweit and the boys had been changing three tyres (not the inside-front) and adding 40 gallons of fuel in about 20 seconds; now the Ford Motor Company decided to provide two additional wheel-changing “experts” for race day.  This unsettled the boys.  Mistakes began to creep in.

At this point I can do no better than to hand over to Jim himself and the lucid interview he gave to Alan Brinton shortly after the race:

“The race came upon me rather as a surprise.  All of a sudden we were there with the thousands of spectators in the grandstands and all the promotion that goes on to make up this amazing event.  We all paraded round for one lap behind the Pace Car, which was driven at a very slow speed.  I couldn’t get the Lotus to run properly in bottom gear, so if we had used only third and fourth, like the regulars, we could have well been in real trouble right at the start.

“Jim Hurtubise, whose Novi was ahead of me on the front row, got stuck in gear as we crossed the start line, and I suddenly found myself right up his exhaust.  I backed off and slammed on the brakes.  There was a mad rush all around me.  Hurtubise got his gear sorted, disappeared into the distance, and I found myself right in the thick of the pack.

“Our cars are a lot lower than the Offys, and this meant that it was extremely difficult to see what was really going on.  There was also a great deal of smoke and dust (as well as a heck of a lot of noise!) and all this made for confusion.

“Anyway, all hell was let loose at the start, with 33 cars rushing round in a tight bunch.  After a couple of laps trying to keep out of everyone’s way I found myself sitting right behind Dan Gurney, who had made a good start in our other car.  This was something of a help, because, since his car was as low as mine, I could at least see what was going on ahead, and could keep an eye on the leaders.

“At this stage there were about a dozen of us going round together in the leading group.  This was a good position to be in, because we reckoned on picking up some useful time in the pit stops.  I found that I could run with the Offys on the straights and, being so much smaller and lower, I was getting a great tow.  Getting through the corners was an entirely different matter:  the Offys have one groove for the turns and there is no chance of beating them during the actual corner, even though our cars could have gone quicker through the turns.  So the general programme was to rushing up the straights and then go relatively quietly – for us, that is – through the corners.S2580003

“Throughout the race I was given signals about Parnelli Jones and his Watson-Offy because there is no doubt that he is far quicker than any other driver in these big Indy specials.  At one point it was obvious that he was getting away from me, so I pressed on for a bit to make up time.  I got past Dan after about 100 miles, and when Parnelli made his first stop after 62 laps we moved into first and second places.

“Parnelli’s stop was very quick and so he began to catch us again.  I held the lead until I came in after 95 laps to change three wheels and take on fuel.  We found we still had eight gallons left, so we could have started with less, as it turned out.  My stop took 33 seconds, however – and it felt even longer.  By the time I was back I had dropped to third.

“One of the extra chaps brought in by Ford was a huge, burly fellow with a long background with the Offys.  This chap forgot that I had a four-speed gearbox and tried to push me away from the pits as if I was in second.  As I shot forwards I could see him rolling over in my mirrors – he had gone flat on his face when I let in the clutch.  For a moment I thought I’d run over him!

“Parnelli extended his lead to about 40 seconds as he began to run on lighter tanks again and I worked my way back to second.  Unfortunately, the yellow light came on just as Parnelli was due in and he made his second pit stop without losing the lead.  We worked out later that he had gained something like 20 seconds on the road during that yellow light period!

“For his third and final stop Parnelli did the same thing – came in during a yellow period, when the rules say that no car must alter its position.  Now I realized that we had really gained nothing from our one-stop strategy.  It was plain that I was going to have to try to race Parnelli for victory.  The car was running beautifully and I got right up to him, catching him at about a second a lap.

“Then I noticed that his car was smoking.  My immediate thought was that he wasn’t going to last….but he just kept going, throwing out oil and smoke and leaving a trail around the track that made things incredibly slippery.  I had a big sideways moment and only just managed to collect the car.  On the next lap, Eddie Sachs spun right in front of me, also on the oil.  I managed to avoid him but it was close.

“I decided it would be more prudent to settle for second place.  From what I could work out, Parnelli’s car threw out a lot of oil for a short period and then pretty well stopped once the oil level had reached a certain point.

“Anyway, it was a disappointing finish to the race.  We might also have done better if we’d had a bit more local knowledge.  For example, when I was leading during a yellow light period, I had to put in nearly a whole lap before I got the green – even though the rule is that the leader should get the green first.  There’s also a question of whether you can improve your position under yellows in relation to the car in front of you or the car which is actually one ahead of you in the race as a whole.  “We didn’t protest – and I’m glad we didn’t.  I would have liked to have won but I wouldn’t have felt happy to have done so by getting Parnelli black-flagged.  Having said that, I don’t think Parnelli would even have been on the same lap as me at the end if there hadn’t been any yellows.   There were a lot of rows after the race.  Eddie Sachs came to blows with Parnelli but Colin and I were satisfied that we had at least shown that the Offys can be beaten by a European design.  As for Parnelli – and remembering that he, too, had to drive on his own oil – I think he did a damn fine job.”S2580002

I would add that Jim’s performance must also be seen in the context of the power differentials.  His modified Ford Fairlane engine developed about 350bhp.  The Offys and Novis produced about 400bhp – as seen by their one-lap pace in qualifying.  The post-race fisticuffs to which Jim refers actually occurred on the following morning, when Eddie “The Clown Prince” Sachs accused Parnelli of causing his spin.  Rufus Parnelli responded by whacking Sachs in the mouth.  In protest, neither Sachs nor Roger McCluskey attended the prizegiving.

David Phipps, who worked closely with Team Lotus at Indy in 1963, calculated later that the yellows were on for a total of about 50 minutes in the race and that in one yellow-light period Jones gained 27 seconds on Jimmy (not 20 sec).  Colin Chapman additionally reckoned that Jim lost about a minute in all the yellow light periods combined.   That’s unheard-of by today’s standards;  back then, though, with Team Lotus pioneering a new era, Jim and Colin were very wary of expecting too much too soon – politically speaking, at any rate.

Jim’s second-place prize money amounted to $56,238.00, or just over £20,000 at 1963’s rate of exchange.

Flying straight to Toronto, Jim left Indy immediately after that prize-giving, for he was scheduled – amazingly – to drive a poorly-prepared Lotus 23 at Mosport on Saturday, June 1.  From a Lotus 29-Ford to a Lotus 23 in two, hectic days.  Such was now the life of the sheep farmer from Duns, Scotland. In his Leston track bag, in company with his new Bell Magnum, smeared with oil, lay his Pure jacket and his Dunlop blues, neatly ironed and ready to go.

Captions, from top: Jim, in the middle of the second row, with his engine coughing a little, is concerned by the slow speed of the Studebaker Pace Car.  A few minutes later he would be boxed-in behind Jim Hurtubise’s slow-starting “Hotel Tropicana Special”;  flashback to late 1962, when it all began:  Jim peels his Indy Rookie stripes from the F1 Lotus 25-Climax; a traditional Scots welcome for Indy’s runner-up Photographs: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Peter Windsor CollectionUSA-Canada 2006 149

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

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