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Archive for the tag “Sir John Whitmore”

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

 


Artist at work: Jim Clark wins Dutch GP

19618.tifJim’s whirlwind 1963 season continued unabated – even when he wasn’t driving a racing car.  The Belgian Grand Prix had been a relief;  it had been tough and dangerous;  it had been nothing less than the usual forces of Spa.  At last, though, he had scored another F1 Championship win with the Lotus 25 (his last, prior to that, had been at Watkins Glen, the previous October).  At Spa the car had again been excessively temperamental – difficult to set-up and fragile (with the persistent gearbox problems still no nearer to being remedied).  Still, though, he had won with enough margin to be able to back away in the closing stages and to crawl around in the torrential rain.

Then came a nice, two-week break.  Jim returned first to London, to Balfour Place, where there was plenty to celebrate with Sir John Whitmore and his new wife, Gunilla, and also with the boys over at Cheshunt.S2600019  There were expense accounts to present to the ever-scrupulous Andrew Ferguson and there was Indy prize money to reconcile.   There was also a new, convertible, Lotus Elan S2 to collect and try.   Painstakingly assembled at the factory, this Elan would be Jim’s transport through to October, 1963.

Jim had appointed Bill Campbell to manage Edington Mains but now it was time for Jim to return to the Borders to catch up on the events – farm-related and otherwise – of the past six weeks or so.  More and more, there were additional interviews to be scheduled with local TV, radio, newspaper and magazine journalists.  Ian Scott-Watson, who had already invested £40,000 of his own money in Jim’s career – and was paying his own way to several European events in 1963 – was still very much in charge of Jim’s racing administration.  Graham Gauld, a local motoring journalist whom Jim had respected from the early Border Reiver days, was also in position to start preliminary work on Jim’s autobiography.  And then there were the farm matters.  The lamb sales were looming.  Cast ewes were to be bought.  Silage was in the first cut. Most days, with an interview or Lotus-related meeting scheduled at some point, Jim wore a shirt, tie, sports jacket, flat cap and Wellington boots as he strode around the farm.  Sometimes, if he could relax, he’d leave out the tie.  In short, Jim switched off for a while, although the inevitable Autosport and Motoring News were never far from his desk.  He would have smiled that week at the picture in Autosport of the USAC race official pointing to the oil leaking from Parnelli Jones’ car during his last pit stop and he would have spent a little time, too, reading about the Rover-BRM turbine car that Graham Hill and Richie Ginther would be racing at Le Mans the following weekend.  And, of course, he would have devoured the details of the previous week’s Scottish Rally (won by his fellow-Border farmer, Andrew Cowan).   Andrew and Jim – who were 27 and 26 at that point – had much to celebrate in Duns in the free weekend that followed.08-26-2010_45

All too soon, though, it was over:  ahead lay a Dutch and French Grand Prix double, followed two weeks later by the British Grand Prix.  With Ian driving his own, yellow Elan demonstrator to Zandvoort and then Reims, Jim drove south to travel to Holland with Colin by private aircraft from Panshanger Aerodrome in Essex.8-24-2010 16-55-24_095

A year on from their official race debut, the cars weren’t ready for first practice at Zandvoort – which, from Jim’s perspective, was no bad thing:  as much time as was needed to fix the gearbox problems, Cedric Selzer and the lads could have it.  As it was, Team Lotus brought a mixed bag to Holland:  Trevor Taylor would use a six-speed Colotti gearbox and Jim a modified five-speed ZF. The cars were also fitted with revised versions of the aeroscreen tried at Spa – this time with a larger opening and a steeper flare ahead of the dash.  Jim quickly found that, with the new design, buffeting had all but disappeared;  white helmet peak now confined to his bag (or lent to Dan Gurney!), he could lie even lower in the car.  So Jim raced it.  The 25’s Ultimate Look was almost complete.S2600001

For this race, thinking about the potential for dust and sand, Jim fitted an orange lens to his Panorama goggles, taping the top half, as usual.   He stayed with the team in a small bed-and-breakfast in the little holiday town of Zandvoort and went trampolining with Bruce McLaren on the beach after practice.  The Dutch Grand Prix was being staged later than normal.  The weather was warmer.  The crowds were huge.

Jim tried the Colotti in practice, then switched to the ZF.  He was unsettled to find that it was now jumping out of second gear rather than top.

While waiting for his car to be adjusted during Saturday practice, Jim strolled out the back of the pits to watch the action.  Against a chill North Sea breeze, he wore his now-customary Pure jacket over his Dunlop blues and his regular string-backed driving gloves.  There he found his mate, Bruce McLaren, who was also in gearbox trouble with the Cooper-Climax (in this, a “comeback” race for John Cooper, who had been seriously injured in early April when he had crashed an experimental twin-engined Mini-Cooper on the Kingston by-pass).   The two were having a laugh, and comparing notes, when suddenly Bruce was grabbed by a policeman and dragged backwards towards the paddock.  Jim spun around in horror – only to see another policeman heading towards him with about the same step.  The issue at hand:  Bruce McLaren, without his Driver’s pass, was standing where only photographers could tread.  Jim was about to protest Bruce’s innocence when two big hands grabbed him by the Pure jacket and attempted to drag him too towards the shrubbery.  Jim’s Dunlop overalls were torn;  and a large crowd swarmed around, all shouting at the policemen to stop. S2600002 Jim had the correct pass! It was there, visible inside his jacket!  In time, there was little the police could do.  It took a reminder that Zandvoort was about to receive the GPDA’s “Best Organized” award, however (as voted by the members at Monaco), for Bruce to be released.

Although the story of Jim Clark’s Dutch GP weekend is thereafter a story of complete domination, of total command, there was, of course, another side to it: Jim felt that the revised Dunlop R6s brought to Zandvoort were an improvement but still he couldn’t persuade the 25 to handle well on both fast corners and slow:  although he headed every practice session and took the pole by 0.6 sec, he had to nurse understeer at Tarzan and – more importantly, at Hunze Rug, where the slow, downhill left-hander was followed by a long acceleration run through the sweepers.  Even so, he led the race from start to finish, lapping even Dan Gurney, who finished second for Brabham.  The sun shone, sand swirled – and still Jim drew quickly away from the pack.   His was a race of supreme concentration, for there was no-one around for him to race.  It was two hours, nine minutes of lone, artistic brilliance.S2600004

Justifying that GPDA Award, the Dutch organizers did a nice job with the post-race celebrations, ushering Jim and the 25 up between the crowds onto a trailer, where the new Championship points leader could be acknowledged by the fans opposite in the packed, signature grandstand.   Jim’s policeman friend from Friday reluctantly helped with the crowd control – but then had the last word when by preventing both Jim and Colin Chapman from entering a studio for post-race radio interviews. No-one dared ask why.

In another part of Europe, meanwhile, on this day in June, 1963 – on Hockenheim’s OstCurve, in Germany  – Heinz Schreiber was killed when his BMW slid into the trees.  In the aftermath, no-one even thought about the erection of guard-rails or of any sort of protective fencing.S2600003

Captions (from top): Jim glides the 25 up the ramp for victory celebrations.  Note Cedric Selzer by left-rear Dunlop;  top-floor flat, 8 Balfour Place – Sir John Whitmore’s London pad, as frequented by Jim Clark.  Rob Slotemaker, the Dutch trickster, once completed a perfect 360 within the confines of this narrow road, much to the amusement of  Sirs Whitmore and Clark; Edington Mains as I photographed it in 1967; Zandvoort in 1967, as I saw it from a Boeing 707; Jim’s Dutch GP win, with all its aesthetic perfection, was perfectly-captured on the cover of the 1963 edition of Automobile Year; Jim and that famous scuffle; the 25’s cockpit also set timeless artistic standards; in a world of his own – Clark at Zandvoort, 1963; below – Saturday night, and Jim returns to the track after dining in Zandvoort.  The boys needed some coffee! Images: LAT Photographic, Peter Windsor CollectionS2620007

From the gloss of Indy to the switchbacks of Mosport

Indianapolis was barely over when Jim Clark left for Mosport – for the next race on his crammed 1963 calendar2_in_Chrono_Order

The young rookie, Skip Barber, in his ex-Ian Walker Lotus 23, leads Jim Clark’s similar, Al Pease-owned, Lotus 23 around Mosport Park

There were times when going to Mosport so soon after Indy did not seem like such a good idea.  It was a rush from beginning to end – but then Jim Clark was used to rushing.  It was what he did in order to earn his profession as a racing driver.  Starting money, particularly in North America, was beginning to look very appealing – and Jim had always been open to the idea of driving different cars in different locations.  In March, 1962 – long before Dan Gurney initiated the Indy plans –  Jim had been delighted when Colin Chapman had asked him to race a Lotus Elite at Daytona; whilst there, he had had no hesitation in accepting an invitation from “Fireball” Roberts to try a stock car on the banked tri-oval.   By 1963, with Indy elevating him to a new level of consciousness in the American racing psyche, Jim was open to all sorts of offers.  The Player’s 200 was one such.  The promoters would pay him decent starting money – and he could squeeze the race in between Indy and Crystal Palace back in England on Whitmonday. It also looked as though Team Lotus would be able to run the Milwaukee and Trenton USAC races later in the year.  Then there were the big-money sports car races at Riverside and Laguna Seca at the end of the season.  It all added up to an interesting, diverse and very busy year.  Jet lag, of course, had yet to be invented!

In the meantime, there was no time either to savour his second place at Indy – or to be frustrated about it; and that was probably a good thing.  He needed to be on that plane to Toronto.  Parnelli Jones, by contrast, cancelled his upcoming appearance in the Player’s 200 with Frank Harrison’s Lotus 23B and flew instead to New York:  he would be a guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show.

Jim had Dan Gurney for company on the flight to Canada but the trip felt less solid than usual.  Jim was plunging into the unknown with a Comstock Lotus 23 – a deal put together via Lotus North America –  and Dan with Timmy Mayer’s Cooper Monaco;  his regular, and super-quick, Arciero Lotus 19 would instead by driven by Chuck Daigh.   Both arrived tired and drained in Bowmanville, Ontario.  There was just time for a couple of exploratory practice laps before the two-part race on Saturday.  Dan was instantly fast – good enough to be fourth – but Jim was dismayed.  The car wouldn’t run.  He couldn’t even put a lap together.

With Comstock’s support, Al Pease, an excellent “preparer” of cars who was originally going to race his own Lotus 23, quickly stepped in to offer Jim his seat.  Jim looked the car over – he knew 23s pretty well by then – and accepted straight away. He put in a lap that would enable him at least to qualify.  It would, I think, also be the first time that Jim drove a car sponsored by a company from outside the motor racing sphere:  Al had arranged backing from “Honest” Ed Mirvish, a Toronto-based discount store owner.  Jim was amused by the concept;  if he had time, he agreed that he would visit the shop before returning to the UK.f1257_s1057_it0465

This was a big event by Canadian – even North American – racing standards.  The driver line-up included Dan, of course, plus Jim Hall in the front-engined Chaparral, Lloyd Ruby, Daigh, a racer-mechanic who lived in Long Beach, Ca, Graham Hill (who had withdrawn from Indy and had flown to Canada from Monaco) in the rapid BRP Lotus 19, Jim’s friend, Sir John Whitmore, in the Frank Costin-re-bodied SMART (Stirling Moss Automobile Racing Team) Lotus Elan, and Roger Penske in Mecom’s Zerex Special (a car that Bruce McLaren would later use to kick-start his own team).  Even so, the media at the time made very little of Jim Clark’s appearance.  All the local talk was of drivers like Ruby, Gurney, Hall, Penske, Jerry Grant and Daigh – and of the reigning World Champion, Graham Hill.  Jim, “only” second at Indy two days before, and in a much less competitive 1.5 litre Lotus 23, earned but a footnote in the local newspapers.  After all the glitz and attention of Indy, Jim liked it that way.  The weather was gorgeous in Canada; he worked for two days at Mosport with his little team in the little-car section of the paddock.

I think this also highlights another side of Clark’s professionalism: Jim wasn’t concerned with always racing cars that made him look good in the public eye; he wasn’t afraid to finish second – or lower than second – if that’s the way things went:  his priority was always to give 100 per cent – and that meant driving with a team he could trust and in a car he liked.  Lotus never built the strongest cars in the world – but that was another subject.  Driving for Lotus – driving any Lotus – was about loyalty to Colin Chapman and about choosing a balance.  What Lotus gave away in reliability they usually made up for with speed.  Jim was prepared to accept that balance up to a certain level; and in Canada, in Al Pease’s Lotus 23, he found a level that at least represented par.  When Jim was out there, driving the unfamiliar black car in this relatively minor race (by F1 World Championship standards), he was nonetheless driving absolutely on the limit.  That was his code.TN_Mosport-1963-06-01-069

As it happened, Jim had a lot of fun in Canada.  He quickly began to race in company with a young American who had made his way with an Austin Healey Sprite and then a Turner, and was now having his first race outside the USA in a yellow, ex-Ian Walker, Lotus 23.  Skip Barber would go on to establish the biggest, and most successful, racing school in North America but on this Saturday, in late May, 1963, he was definitely a kid on a mission. “Mosport was a wonderful circuit,” he would say later.  “Blind brows, changes of camber and barriers close to the circuit – where there were barriers.   I trailored the 23 up from Connecticut, where I was based.  I was so new to it that I didn’t even realize that they used imperial gallons in Canada.  “I had bought one of the two Ian Walker 23s that raced in North American in 1962.  It was used-up but successful – yellow with a green stripe down the middle. The Player’s 200 was a big event in North America – and in Canada, particularly, where they had major races in the spring and then in the fall.  This eventually led to the Can-Am, of course.  There was good prize money and starting money.   And there was a big crowd at Mosport. The atmosphere was electric.

“Jim’s spec was identical to mine – a 23 powered by a 1500 Ford pushrod.  We had no chance against the twin-cams, let alone the big-bangers.  I’d only done two short races with the car before Mosport so this was definitely a step into the unknown.  I don’t remember meeting Jim during practice or before the first heat, but between races I asked Al if he could lend me, or sell to me, a new set of brake pads.  He replied that he would have to ask the driver (who happened to be standing right next to him!). Jim was extraordinarily gracious: he pretended to think about it for a second or two but clearly he was never going to say no. “This probably sounds a bit pretentious, but we had just had a tremendous, 100-mile race in which we had been separated by maybe three yards the whole time, with me in front.  WM_Mosport-1963-06-01-015He was very complimentary and very nice.  I remember him saying ‘I’ll see you in Europe’…but of course I didn’t even know where ‘Europe’ was.  Jim told a friend of mine later that he had thought about tapping me a few times during the race but my response was that he would have needed to have been a bit closer to have pulled that off.  In the second heat he passed me but then I re-passed him on the same lap.  We ran the same way almost until the end, when one of the RS61 Porsches blew up in front of me.  I went so far off the race track that I couldn’t find my way back.  I’m not kidding.  I was in the tunnel exit of the infield, buried in heavy grass.  After that, we just packed up and went home.  And Jim flew back to Europe.  It was as quick as that.  I never even thought about asking Jim to help me meet people, or even to introduce me to people in the paddock.  I never even considered it.”

Jim’s race was similar in essence to one he would enjoy a couple of years later at Lakeside, in February, 1965.  Like Barber, Australia’s Frank Matich would race that day wheel-to-wheel with Jim Clark – Jim in the works Lotus 32B-Climax, Frank in the powder blue Team Total Brabham-Climax.  Like Barber, Frank would forsake an international career for a racing life at home.  Both drivers earned Jim’s respect.

The 1963 Player’s 200 was won by Chuck Daigh;  Graham Hill retired with a blown engine.  Jim Hall was second, Dan third, Penske fourth.  Jim eventually finished eighth overall (and third in class). John Whitmore amazed the crowd (and Barber, who had never seen an inside wheel so far from the ground) before the differential seized on the SMART Elan.  John then drove with Jim back to Toronto and flew with him to London and thus on to the Mayfair flat.  The two of them were scheduled to race at Crystal Palace on Whitmonday, 24 hours later.

Captions, from top: Skip Barber in his ex-Ian Walker Lotus 23 leads Jim Clark in the Al Pease “Honest Ed’s” Lotus 23.  Jim is wearing his new Bell magnum, complete with white peak; Honest Ed’s discount store in Toronto (as it was in 1963);  the sponsor’s signwriting was relatively large by ’63 standards; Skip and Jim as they spent much of the Player’s 200 Photographs: Skip Barber Collection; Peter Windsor Collection_Mosport-1963-06-01

La Bananeraie

1963 Monaco Grand PrixJim Clark’s 1963 season (continued)

From Indy Qualifying, Jim flew to Nice from London, where he had been staying on Monday and Tuesday in the apartment of his friend, Sir John Whitmore.  They had first met in 1959, when they had shared Ian Scott-Watson’s Lotus Elite at Le Mans, and they had stayed in touch ever since.S2520004  Their bond, ironically, had been their shared despair after Alan Stacey’s death.  A farmer like John and Jim, Alan had been hugely helpful to Whitmore in the early years.  At Le Mans in ‘59, with Alan now on the verge of a full F1 career and driving at Le Mans a factory Lotus 17 with Keith Greene, the three of them had had a ball, with Alan very much playing the role of the mentor. Early in that Le Mans week, over dinner at the Team Lotus hotel in a little village away from the main town, John had read aloud a report in L’Equipe about one of the drivers having an artificial leg.  Jim, still very new to motor racing, was both appalled and disbelieving.  “Disgusting,” he said, making it unclear whether he was talking about the lies in the article or the concept itself.

Jim was up bright and early the following morning, in his usual way, and knocked on the door of the room being shared by John and Alan.

“Come on.  Wake up.  Rise and shine.  Time to get going.”  Then silence.  Jim had seen Alan’s prosthetic leg lying on the floor by the bed.  The next sound was of Jim’s feet, running as far away as possible.

A few days later, John and Alan were still laughing at Jim’s embarrassment…

Alan was killed at Spa the following year in a Team Lotus 18 – in the second Grand Prix of Jim’s career – when, it is said, he hit a bird at high speed.  (Some people close to Team Lotus are convinced that the steering column broke on Alan’s car and that the “bird” story was merely a cover.)  Jim was of course devastated – but thought instantly of John, who had been even closer to Alan.  Thus the mateship.600112_22

John’s small two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat was in Balfour Place, Mayfair – an ideal location for racing drivers on the move.  The Lotus factory at Cheshunt was half an hour away.  And London was great for Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Crystal Palace, Brands Hatch and of course the A1 – the road to Scotland.  After days – weeks – of non-stop travel, these two days in Mayfair for Jim offered a welcome break.  John’s wife, Ghinsella, caught up with Jim’s washing – including his blue Dunlop overalls – and Jim finalized the detail arrangements of his travel over the next few weeks.  He would return immediately to Indianapolis after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix;  then he would race at Mosport; then, two days later, he would race at Crystal Palace.  He’d return to Balfour Place at that point before leaving for Spa, for the Belgian GP.

Nice was bright and sunny when Jim and Colin arrived on Wednesday, May 22.  They drove out to Monaco by the coast road, stopping on the way to check in to their regular hotel in Eze sur Mere.  S2550010Little more than a railway station and a small café today, Eze in 1963 was somewhat more prosperous, boasting a couple of good restaurants, a garage and a small market.  The Team Lotus hotel, La Bananeraie, was perfect for the group’s needs, boasting a spacious, secure, three-car garage out the back in which the Lotus 25s could be housed.  Towing race cars to circuits on public roads was not only normal back then;  it was a part of the show.  Spectators would line the streets, awaiting their favourites – and sometimes, if the travel distances was short, the cars would be driven under their own power.  Nothing clears a crowd faster than a quick blast of Ferrari V12…20179.tif

Jim had brought with him to Europe his newly-painted Bell Magnum helmet and wore it for the first time at Monaco on Thursday, when he was fastest.  The overall look was completely different:  it was as if the slightly thicker Bell had been specifically designed for the gorgeous, slow-slung lines of the Lotus 25.  And Jim again wore a white peak!  It was as if the ’63 season was entering a new phase, and the Jim Clark era was now upon us.

Jim was unnerved for a second or two on Thursday when he spied a black cat running across the track by the pits.  He wasn’t about to label himself “superstitious” but, in that world, back then, he wasn’t going to go out of his way to walk under ladders or spill salt on the table.  He was delighted, then, to see the car suddenly freeze and scamper back the way it had came.  Nor was he reluctant to tell a few of his friends about it, either!

Practice over – and the temporary pole secured – Jim then joined his fellow drivers in a GPDA meeting at the Hotel Metropole.  These gatherings had been a regular fixtures at F1 races ever since the drivers had first got together in a formal way at Monaco, in 1960.  As a group, they were now respected by the team owners and by the circuit organizers – something that couldn’t be said about the drivers’ group of the 1950s, the UPPI (Union of Professional Pilotes International).  Jo Bonner presided over the GPDA meetings;  Autocar’s Sports Editor, Peter Garnier, recorded the minutes for posterity.  As well as discussing important safety and organizational issues, the drivers also took time to talk to one another.  In Jim’s case, he was keen to learn about Dan Gurney’s first drive in the new Brabham (Dan had been eighth quickest on a troublesome day) and to discuss the growing shortage of Coventry Climax Mk 111 engines.  Just as Dan had been obliged to miss Silverstone, now Jack Brabham himself was flying straight back to England to pick up a replacement for the engine that had failed that morning.  There was also general chit-chat about the new, sticker Dunlop R6s, now re-designed around the 1962-spec 28 deg cord angle.  In theory, this greatly improved the tyre’s breakaway without detracting from its better adhesion.  A bit like Pirelli reverting to Kevlar casing in 2013!

Problem was, the new Dunlops were also in short supply.  The bulk of them would only reach Monaco, by truck, late on Thursday night.

Matters of Moment in that GPDA meeting:  the prize for the best-run Grand Prix would go to Zandvoort.  The Taffy von Trips trophy for the best private entrant would go to Count Carel de Beaufort; and Graham Hill would receive a Roy Nockolds painting for winning the 1962 World Championship.

F1 practice was also held on Friday back then – but at the absurdly early hour of 7:30am, by which time two Formula Junior sessions had also been staged.  The idea was to have everything over by 9:00am, thus allowing the town to go about its usual business.  The track was cold but Jim was faster still.  Then, with the day still ahead, it was all over.  Jim  joined other drivers on Carribee, the yacht hired by Ken Gregory (Stirling Moss’s manager) and the former driver, Mike McKee.  S2560001After a few hours in the sun, enjoying life with his mates Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and Lorenzo Bandini,  it was back to Eze for a look at the cars and an early dinner at La Bananeraie.S2550013  It turned out that Cedric Selzer and the boys had had a relatively easy day with the 25s – particularly as a nice blonde seemed to have joined the team as wheel-polisher and go-fer.  Jack Brabham, meanwhile, had flown his own single-engined Cessna 180 back to England to pick up a replacement Climax engine.  He planned to be back in Monaco by late afternoon but was held up by bad weather in France.  He didn’t make it until about 5:00pm on Saturday – by which time the Climax in Dan’s car had also burned a piston.

Jim was again quick on Saturday afternoon, when the session was run from 2:00pm – 3:15pm.  Perenniel gearbox worries aside, the 25 was running perfectly – so much so that Jim was happy to run full tanks for most of the afternoon while he pushed the R6s to the limit.  (With more grip on line, he was only a second slower than his Thursday, empty-tank, pole time.)  Jim also completed a few laps in the spare car (fitted with the old carburettored Climax engine), lapping as quickly as the Ferraris and fourth-fastest overall.  The Brabham engine issues remined dire but everyone was deeply moved when Jack stood aside to let Dan have the only spare Climax for the race on Sunday.  Drawn to Jack because of his decision to run a Lotus 24 for the first half of the previous season (while he was working on his own car) – and also because of the Indy ties with Dan – Colin Chapman then offered the spare Team Lotus 25 for Jack to race on Sunday.  The 1959-60 World Champion readily agreed, even though he would be unable to put in a single lap with it before the flag dropped.

Serious work over for the day  – Jim was on the pole from Graham Hill, John Surtees, Innes Ireland and Dan Gurney – everyone settled back to watch the Formula Junior race. An electrical problem had ruined his day when he was leading the FJ race by a mile in 1960, so he was not really surprised when Peter Arundell, who had won his heat in the Team Lotus 27, retired from the final early with a blown engine.  Richard Attwood went on to win in the MRP Lola from an excellent Frank Gardner (Brabham).S2550014

Sunday, May 26, 1963 was a gorgeous day – much like May 26, 2013.   There were no support races;  instead, great F1 drivers from the past were paraded in open sports cars.  Prince Rainier drove a few laps of the circuit in his Porsche Super 90.  The drivers, staring at 100 laps of Monaco, gathered in the pits beneath the trees.

Louis Chiron, Clerk of the Course, presided over a shambolic drivers’ briefing on the grid.  Photographers pushed and shoved;  some drivers listened, others joked with friends.  “Remember it is a sport,” said Chiron.  “Good racing, good driving, good amusement and God bless you.”  As Bruce McLaren later, “We knew how hot it was going to be and we knew that it wasn’t exactly going to be very amusing…”

Jim was instantly in trouble.  In total contrast to his full-tanks run on Saturday, his engine coughed badly under acceleration.  He couldn’t believe it.  Perhaps it was a plug or something.  Perhaps it would clear itself over the opening lap.

It did not.  The mis-fire persisted.  Graham had unsurprisingly out-dragged him into Ste Devote and down out of Casino Square, and into Mirabeau and the Station Hairpin, he was all over the BRM.  Out on the seafront, however, and on the fast run through Tabac and towards the Gasworks Hairpin, the BRM pulled away as it was a 2-litre car.

Jim couldn’t understand what was happening.  And so he just drove with the problem, trying to apply the power in different throttle loads – and trying, of course, to find ways of braking so late that he could sustain an attack.

It’s interesting to note, I think, that very, very few reports of the day mention Clark’s problems in this early phase of the race.  Observers and spectators were enthralled, instead, by Jim’s attempts to outbrake Graham and his BRM team-mate, Ritchie Ginther, into the Gasworks Hairpin – and by the BRM drivers always regaining the initiative under acceleration.  It never occurred to reporters that Clark was adjusting his driving in order to compensate for a problem.  They saw Jim hit the cement dust bags protecting a fire hydrant with the left rear wheel on about lap 15 and they put it down to “Clark under pressure”.   They saw Jim throwing the 25 around with armfulls of opposite lock and they just assumed he was having fun…

It was when the engine problem began to go away that Jim worked out for himself what had been happening:  “The trouble stemmed from the two little pipes which stuck up behind my head and above the engine.  These were fuel tank breathers and at the start, with full tanks, they tended to blow excess fuel out of the top whenever I accelerated hard.  This would blow fuel straight back down the injector pipes and thus richen the mixture.  The engine would bang and splutter.  It was murder.  Whenever I was out on my own with no-one around I could scramble through the corners and have the car running properly before anyone noticed but when, in the early phase of the race, I was fighting both Graham and Ritchie, I kept losing places.  I’d pass Ritchie into a corner and then there would be this bubble, bubble, snort, bang and while I was trying to clear the system Richie would pass me again.  Eventually, though, I managed to get with it, pass Ritchie and pull away.  Of course, as the race progressed, less and less fuel came up the breathers and the trouble gradually disappeared.”

Jim was leading easily – just as he had led the FJ race in 1960 and then again the Grand Prix in 1962 – when it all went suddenly, finally, wrong.  Wary of the gear selection trouble that had coloured the early-season races, he was now changing gear nice and precisely, easing the lever into the next slot without any strain.  Suddenly, into Tabac, changing from fourth to third, the gearbox jammed.  He still had drive – in fourth gear – but the gear lever was in “neutral”.  He tried the lever again – and suddenly the car was in second, spinning itself to a standstill in the middle of the Gasworks Hairpin. Declutching did nothing.  The car was locked in second.  Jim’s first reaction was to jump from the 25 and thus to warn a fast-approaching Graham Hill, who at that point was ten seconds behind.  Then, drained, he walked quickly back to the pits.

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Thus ended Jim’s first Championship Grand Prix of 1963.  The gearbox problems would continue (both Trevor Taylor and Jack had transmission problems in the race) but Cedric Selzer was not slow in coming up with solution to the fuel mixture issue:  he fitted a motorcycle tap to the cockpit for Spa and gave Jim an instruction he would never forget:  “It’s like a factory.  It opens up and it closes down!”

They had an early night at La Bananeraie:  on Monday, May 27, Colin, Jim and Dan flew from Nice to London on the 6:00am BOAC Comet. From there, via New York and Chicago, they would fly again to Indianapolis.  The 500 would take place on Thursday, May 30.

Captions, from top:  Lap one, Monaco, 1963.  Graham Hill leads for BRM, with Jim lying second in the mis-firing Lotus 25-Climax.  Then come Ritchie Ginther (BRM) and John Surtees (Ferrari);  Jim Clark and Sir John Whitmore compare notes at Le Mans in 1959 while Ian Scott-Watson’s Lotus Elite is given unscheduled attention.  Ian can be seen to the right of Sir John’s legs – and that’s Jabby Crombac with arms folded; Jim shares a laugh with the very excellent Alan Stacey;  La Bananeraie as it is today, now run by the grandson of the of the original owners.  It’s overgrown but Bohemian:  the bulk of the hotel is now an artist’s studio but the bar is still pretty much as it was; F1 cars often split the everyday traffic en route to the track.  This is (I think) Bernard Collomb’s Lotus 24; Louis T Stanley’s shot of Jim aboard the good ship Carribbee after early practice on Friday.  Note the Dunlop race trousers!; the garages around the back of La Bananarie; the bar/restaurant where Team Lotus refreshed in May, 1963; Cedric Selzer (right) and Colin Chapman (checked shirt) shepherd Jim back to the Lotus pit after his retirement. Photos: Sir John Whitmore, Louis T Stanley, LAT Photographic, Peter Windsor CollectionWEB-Monaco1963-PDL

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