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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Milwaukee Magic

63-8-18 J Clark With Fast Time Trophy& Mike Billing USAC Official _268With that excellent Milwaukee July test behind him (see “Jim Clark, Delicately Poised”), Jim flew with Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman to Chicago on Wednesday, August 14, 1963, for the 200-mile Tony Bettenhausen National Championship Classic – Jim’s second oval race in America. The Milwaukee Mile was already a part of American racing folklore and this race, the biggest of the year on that track, was named after the superquick Indy driver who had died in a testing accident at Indy (caused by a suspension failure) in 1961. S2650001 By now, the Lotus 29-Fords had become the major talking-point in American racing circles.  Jim hadn’t won Indy; and many, amazingly, remained front-engined proponents, AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones firmly amongst them.  On the other hand, the might of the Ford Motor Company was now pouring money into its race programmes, and it was no secret that several customer teams would be chosen for 1964.  The American view at the time was that Ford were allowing Lotus – “those British guys” – to build a car around the brilliantly-developed 4.2 litre V8 pushrod engine.  Key American journalists even referred to Jim’s car as a “Ford-Lotus”.  For his part, Jim was happy to go along with it all.  Although he could live without the attention and the fanfare, he was impressed not only by the challenges of racing in America but also by the prize-money.  He expected nothing on a plate – but he liked the idea of being rewarded for a job well done.  This was in stark contrast to Europe’s start-money system, which engendered reasonable retainers for the drivers but relatively small prize funds.

The 29s for this race were housed nearby at Bill Trainor’s Zecol “Lubaid” (as in “lubrication aid”) garage favoured by NASCAR teams.  Zecol4aBoth cars raced with the softer-compound Dunlops (as distinct from Firestones or Goodyears) but ran with different carburettor layouts:  Jim used the only set of 48mm Webers (mounted longitudinally) available, Dan the older 58mm Webers (mounted laterally).  Bottom line:  Jim dominated practice, qualifying and the race but Dan could only finish third, hampered hugely by fuel-feed problems caused by surge on the lightly-banked turns.  AJ Foyt finished second in his venerable roadster, with Jim resisting the temptation to lap the American star in the closing stages. “I had a field day,” Jim would recall in his autobiography.  “I found I could run tight, round the inside of the circuit, and I used this to get inside the big Indy cars and beat them along the straights to the next corner.  In this way I lapped everyone except AJ Foyt in second place with his Meyer-Drake special.  Towards the end of the race I came up behind him but decided not to lap him because that would have been rubbing it in too hard.  Already the Indianapolis designers were off to build new cars for 1964 due to our efforts!”

All this is relatively well-known.  Much more difficult to find are photos from that Milwaukee race.  I wrote, therefore, to David Hobbs, the very quick and successful British driver who today lives with his family in Milwaukee.  David recommended that I contact his dear friend, Russ Lake.  Although not a professional in the sense of relying solely on motor sport for his livelihood, Russ is by any standards a “true pro”.  He has eaten, slept and captured American motor sports on film for going on 50 years.  And, yes, he had some pictures from Milwaukee, 1963.

You can see them here – Jim accepting his pole award, or in the car, side-by-side with Dan.  Jim in the pit lane.  Jim mid-corner, head leaning to the left, arms nearly straight. Study them closely.  Remember that the Clark you see here is the driver who has just won the Belgian, Dutch, French and British Grands Prix, has finished a fighting second at the Nurburgring, and who has flown to the States almost directly from his win in Sweden.  Look at his Westover driving shoes – slightly tatty and worn from driving the Lotus 25s, the Galaxy, the Lotus 23Bs and the Indy Lotus 29s.  He wore his Hinchman overalls in Milwaukee – minus Firestone logos – and raced with his now-customary peakless Bell (unlike Indy, where he wore the white peak).  Note, too, the “Pure Firebird Gasoline” stickers on the sides of the cars (instead of the Pure roundels), the gauze filters over the carburettor inlets, the pad taped to Jim’s headrest to support his neck and the Dunlop wheels on the front (and Halibrands on the rear).  All these details were different from the Indy spec; and – again – a big thanks to Russ Lake for enabling us to see them – in my case certainly for the first time.  1963-8-18 Jim Clark & USAC Official Ray Pohn_6481963-8-18 Action Milw_6491963-8-18 Pace Lap Clark on Pole_269Jim Clark & Dan Gurney_382

Jim’s winnings totalled $44,225, boosted massively by the lap prizes on offer from such companies as Augie Pabst Motors, Flambeau Motor Repairs, Hoosier Beer Cats, Datsun, Golden Slipper Lounge, Dunkels White Oakes Inn, Zecol Inc, Banner Welder Inc, Baumgartner Imported Cars and Ben Shumow Used Truck Sales.  In addition, Jim received winner’s bonuses from Autolite, Champion, Monroe and Willard Battery.

Jim loved his motor racing – loved driving and also loved learning about it in all its forms.  When AJ Foyt and Rodger Ward invited him to the Springfield sprint car meeting on the Saturday afternoon of Milwaukee, therefore, he instantly accepted.  Dan and Colin also came along.  Remembers Jim: “AJ, whom I knew quite well by then, shouted, ‘Hi Jimbo!  How’s about bringing the Lotus out for this type of race?’  The race was hair-raising and looked dangerous as the drivers power-slid their cars round in great style.  When I was asked if I wanted to have a go, I, for once, declined, but this racing was really a spectacle.”

Below, I’m delighted to be able to embed some video footage of that 1963 Springfield race, complete with glimpses of Jim, Dan and Colin having fun in the paddock area.  You’ll see them at the start and then there’s another shot of Jim near the end, stop watches in hand, absorbed by the proceedings.  He was close to AJ Foyt and to Rodger Ward, and so he would have enjoyed this race immensely.  Note his official pass, dutifully worn, and his Lotus green polo shirt.  (Only the first half of the video is from Springfield but I recommend you watch it in its entirety.) Watch, too, for the brilliant Bobby Marshman.  He’s at the start of the video, showing Jim and Dan around his sprinter, and he’s out there, leading the race, when his engine fails.  He impressed Jim and Colin, of course, and the following year he would race Jim’s 1963 Lotus 29 at Indy (repainted red-and-white, sponsored again by Pure and entered by Lindsay Hopkins).  Bobby led Jim in the 500 before running a little too low on the banking and damaging the sump plug.  Chapman thereafter resolved to include Marshman in upcoming Team Lotus US race programmes and perhaps even to give him an opportunity in Europe.  Very sadly, though, Bobby was killed in a Firestone testing accident at Phoenix late in 1964.

Postscript: Immediately after Milwaukee Jim flew to Newark to test the 29 on the Trenton 1.5-mile oval in the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.  Trenton was more banked than Milwaukee and very quickly, on an empty circuit, with only the Team Lotus boys on hand, the 29 ran into handling problems.  Jim then hit the wall when a steering arm broke.  He was unharmed and resolved immediately not to allow himself to fall into the Lotus “fragile” syndrome.  “I didn’t put this down to Colin Chapman,” he would say later, “because at that Trenton test we were running tyres unsuitable for the banking.  To his credit, though, Colin not only changed the steering layout on that car but he also came straight back and changed all the F1 cars, even though we had been running for five years and had never had one break before.”


Captions, from top: Jim accepts the clock trophy for pole position from USAC’s Ray Pohn.  Note the roadster atop the timepiece; the Zecol Lubaid garage where the 29s were based in Milwaukee; Jim in pit lane; Jim in action; Jim and Dan lead the field towards the green flag; and a nice one-three for Team Lotus Photos: Russ LakeS2650004

“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’s Kanonloppet

S2640001To Sweden, for the Kanonloppet – to a non-championship F1 race with a bit of history, given that Stirling Moss (Rob Walker Lotus 18/21) won it in 1961 (from the back of the grid, after Jim Clark’s retirement) and Maston Gregory followed that with victory in 1962 at the wheel of a UDT-Laystall Lotus 24-BRM. (It should also be remembered that Graham Hill, fresh from his momentous victory for BRM in the 1962 German GP, drove Rob Walker’s Lotus 24-Climax the following week in the downbeat Kanonloppet. He qualified on the second row at Karlskoga but retired early.)  The Swedish race was bracketed with with Danish GP (Roskildering) in ’61 and ’62 but it stood alone in ’63.  As the former factory Lotus and BRM driver, Reine Wisell, recalls in the adjoining interview, Karlskoga was, and is, best-known for the Bofors armament factory.  Thus the name of the race: Kanon (gun), Loppet (trophy).lopp670

Jim Clark won the two-part race (the results of which were based on points awarded for finishing positions, with total times deciding the ties) but – as at Solitude – it was Black Jack Brabham who again set the “non-championship” pace.  Jim experimented with the spare, carburettored, Lotus 25, leaving the fuel-injected car for Trevor Taylor – but couldn’t live with Jack’s BT7 out of the slow corners (of which there were about five at Karlskoga, including the banked hairpin).  Jack, who took the pole from Jim by half-a-second, was heading towards a sure victory in Heat One when his engine suddenly cut-out (as per Dan Gurney’s chronically at the Nurburgring).  Jim thus won easily from Trevor.

Jim calculated during the lunch break that he could finish third in Heat Two and still win overall (providing he crossed the line no more than 1min 35.2sec behind Brabham) and so, on a wet afternoon, he did exactly that:  Jack duly won the second heat; Jim let Trevor finish second – and thus the Kanonloppet was Jim’s.  As it happened, he finished that second heat exactly 35 sec behind Jack and right on Trevor’s gearbox.  Denny Hulme, having his first F1 drive in the 1.5 litre formula, finished fourth in the other works Brabham.

As I say, Reine Wisell paints a nice picture for us of the 1963 Kanonloppet in the video interview below. I caught him last week on a day similar to that of August 11, 1963, dragging him out of a restaurant on a wet day Motala.  His chat is best watched in conjunction with the “Kanonloppet 1963” video (also embedded here) which has become something of a YouTube cult hit.  Think a very early Swedish Woodstock and you have some picture of what that Karlskoga meeting, on August 9-10-11, 1963, was all about.  You get a feel for ’63 Karlskoga (the town) and for what it was like for the fans there.  I kind of like the Swedish commentary, too!  Reine also mentions a video of the 1967 Kanonloppet but I couldn’t find it on a quick, initial search.  Let me know if you have more luck.

Images: LAT Photographic



“There were plenty of things you could do back then…”

1976 Canadian Grand Prix.Alastair Caldwell (right, with headset, talking to James Hunt at Mosport, in 1976) is our guest this week on The Racer’s Edge – which means that at last we can sit him down and talk to him in outrageous detail about those early days at McLaren, about Bruce winning his first race in a car bearing his own name – and about the tricks they used to play back in 1976, when James Hunt fought Niki Lauda all the way to the Drivers’ World Championship.  We also catch up with Charlie Kimball, the son of the former McLaren and Ferrari Design Engineer, Gordon Kimball.  Last Sunday, Charlie won his first IndyCar race (with Chip Ganassi Racing) Images: LAT Photographic; TRE Production: Knockout TV in association with F1 Racing

A Galaxie win for Clark

20791Monday, August 5, was a holiday in the UK in 1963, which meant that all eyes turned towards Brands Hatch for the Guards Trophy (as in Carreras Guards filter cigarettes).  This was a classic British international race meeting run by the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC) in front of a classically-large crowd. The feature race was for sports cars over 50 laps; support events were for saloon cars, smaller sports-racing cars and GT cars.  Consider that this meeting was staged exactly 24 hours after the German GP, and that the line-up of drivers at Brands included F1 stars like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Lorenzo Bandini, Trevor Taylor, Innes Ireland and Tony Maggs, plus other names like Roy Salvadori Roger Penske, Jack Sears, Timmy Mayer, Paddy Hopkirk, Sir John Whitmore, Frank Gardner, Mike Salmon, David Piper, Lucien Bianchi, John Miles (the future Lotus F1 driver) and Ray Parsons, (Jim Clark’s part-time mechanic) and you have a picture of what motor racing in the 1960s was all about:  it was about the drivers – about star names having one-off races in interesting cars, regardless of their chances of winning.  Trevor Taylor, for instance, jumped from an F1 Lotus 25 at the Nurburgring into a Lotus Elite at Brands.  The World Champion, Graham Hill, swapped his works BRM for a Jaguar 3.8.  Le Mans winner, Lorenzo Bandini, went from his Centro Sud BRM to a big Ferrari 330LM.

And Jim Clark, if you please, stepped from his Lotus 25 into…a Holman-Moody-prepared, Alan Brown-run, 7-litre Ford Galaxie.  20793Featuring lightweight panels, blueprinted V8 and stripped interior, this two-door “fastback” Galaxie was one of three Ford-commissioned, Holman and Moody-prepared cars to colour the British touring car scene in 1963. One Galaxie, owned by John Willment (who knew Holman and Moody well from his interests in marine engines) immediately won races in the skilful hands of Jack Sears;  the Alan Brown car was effectively a “guest” Galaxie, driven by Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham and, at Brands, Jim Clark; and Sir Gawaine Bailey, the very rapid baronet, owned and drove the third car.  Lee Holman, son of John, was 18 when, in early 1963, he was asked to drive the Alan Brown Galaxie from the H-M headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the port of New York.  “We put some Brillo pads up the exhaust to try to dampen the sound,” remembers Lee, “but the biggest help were the $100 bills I took with me to pay off the traffic cops!  One of them stopped me somewhere in Virginia so I showed him the paperwork about the car being owned by the Ford Motor Company and being shipped to the UK for racing and he was so impressed that he let me go…”

It’s hard to picture it, now – Jim, Graham, Trevor, Tony Maggs, Lorenzo and Innes all rushing back to England to race their widely-different cars at this Brands International.  Jim wasn’t even in the big race!  Instead, he could relax down at the lower end of the paddock with Alan Brown and the mechanics, settle himself into the Galaxie’s spacious, padded “bucket” seat and apply some of the intel he’d been given by Dan. The left-hand-drive Galaxie had a “four-speed, on-the-floor (L-shaped) shifter”, a lap seat belt only, a deeply-dished plastic steering wheel and a lateral (ie, not longitudinally-braced) roll-bar.  Driving it was all about taming the power – ie, minimising the wheelspin and the oversteer….and allowing for brake fade.20787

Why was Jim racing that Monday in a car he’d never even tested?  As much as Jim loved to drive nimble sports cars on the road like the Lotus Elite, Lotus Elan and Porsche 356 he was also amused by the concept of big, comfortable American “slushmobiles” like the Galaxie.  And controlling the Galaxie on a race track appealed to Jim’s sense of curiosity.  Ask one of the current F1 drivers to compete in a Porsche Supercup race and their initial response – even before they considered the complication of contracts – would be to ensure that their image was not dented by the likes of a Sean Edwards; Jim had no such qualms.  He was intrigued by the concept of racing the Galaxie; he liked the Ford connection, in view of his plans to race more extensively in the US; he liked the Holman and Moody people, who were at that point doing great things with the Falcon Sprint rally cars in Europe; and he wasn’t afraid of being beaten by an ace like Jack Sears:  this was but a part of motor racing.

As it happened, Jim qualified second to Jack but seized the lead into Paddock Bend:  Jack’s start, on the lower side of the track, had suffered from the usual Brands Hatch wheelspin. Jim held the inside line up the hill into Druids, won the mid-corner barging match at the hairpin and headed the field into Bottom Bend, his right rear Firestone picking up the dirt as he power-slid the big Galaxie onto Bottom Straight. 20747Jack Sears had won on all types of circuit (from Silverstone to Crystal Palace) with the Willment Galaxie and was not about to fall away; it was Jim Clark, though, who emerged from the back of the circuit still in the lead.  One can hear the voice of Anthony Marsh now, as the lumbering V8s teetered into  Clearways:

“And it’s Jim Clark in front!  Clark leads from Sears and then come the three Jaguars – Graham Hill in the Coombs car, Roy Salvadori, Mike Salmon, who banged into Sir Gawaine Baillie’s slow-starting Galaxie off the line…”

Jack, for once, ran into trouble – a punctured Firestone, to be precise.  Jim was left to win from F1 arch-rival Hill – but not without incident.  David Haynes demolished his Cortina GT on Bottom Straight right in front of Paddy Hopkirk’s Mini.  Paddy took major avoiding action on the grass – but Jim, too, was forced to put two wheels out there on the turf to miss the melee.  Fortunately, Haynes escaped uninjured.20743

So Jim won the 20-lap Slip Molyslip Trophy for B-class Group 2 saloon cars. The race was considered at the time to be so minor that no pictures at all were published in Autosport of the F1 Championship leader in the Galaxie.  Instead, the headlines went to Roger Penske, who won the Guards Trophy with his Zerex Special (basically a Cooper-Climax F1 car with bodywork). Frank Gardner’s Brabham beat the Lotus 23s in the sports car event; Bob Olthoff, who on August 18 would, with Jack Sears, win a 12-hour race in Washington, USA, in a Willment Cortina GT, took the up-to-3-litre class of Jim’s race; and Sir John Whitmore again reigned supreme in his Mini-Cooper. (Sir John would also win the GT race with his Stirling Moss special-bodied Elan.)  Balfour Place was thus heaving that Monday night – particularly as Cleopatra was on the agenda for Jim and Sally.  Jim would head over to Cheshunt on Tuesday to see Andrew Ferguson (to sort out some accounts!) – and they would leave on Wednesday for Sweden, where Jim was due to race in the non-championship F1 event at Karlskoga, near Orebro, west of Stockholm. Jim had had the pole there in 1961 but had retired from the race with that old Lotus foible – broken front suspension. Here was a chance to redress the balance.

Also eagerly awaiting the appearance of F1 stars on his home track was an Orebro 19-year-old who had over the past 18 months been winning a string of kart races.  His name was Ronnie Peterson.

Captions, from top: Jack Sears sits on the pole with rear wheels spinning while Jim (middle of the front row) smokes away from the line.  On the right, Graham Hill is up-and-running in John Coombs’ 3.8 Jaguar;  lap one, and Jim leads Jack Sears along Bottom Straight. Amongst the Jags, Roy Salvadori has passed Graham…; rear view of the opening lap battle.  Characteristically, Jim has already begun an early, small, initial turn towards South Bank Bend (with brakes yet to be applied).  Jack, more traditionally, is beginning to brake to a wider turn-in point; within a couple of laps, Jim had begun to put a little air between his Alan Brown Galaxie and Jack’s Willment car.  Here, on the entrance to the uphill South Bank Corner, he balances an oversteer slide; Jim takes to the grass to avoid what remains of David Haynes’ Cortina GT. Images: LAT Photographic

Uniquely, Jim finished second

As Jim Clark’s 1963 season continues, we head to the NurburgringSCE

Bruce McLaren journeyed to the Nurburgring, for the German GP, in a Sunbeam Rapier road test car (arranged and co-driven by his secretary, Eoin Young).  In the days when standards, and tastes, were more in tune with real life, Bruce described the Rapier as “surprisingly fast” and “very comfortable”.  He would have cause to repeat his descriptions, post-race, in ways that he could never have imagined.S2620006

As in 1961 and 1962, when they had raced as team-mates in John Ogier’s Essex Racing Team, Bruce McLaren and Jim Clark stayed at the Lochmuhle hotel in Altenahr for the 1963 F1 race.  There’s no record of exactly what they specifically ate that weekend, but Bruce had said this about their stay the previous year:  “They serve some of the best food in Europe at the Lochmuhle and, as Essex were paying the bill, most of us stuck to four large courses, such as lobster or that delicious oxtail soup, followed by a quick chicken and mushroom entrée or pate, then an exotic steak, grilled with oranges and tomatoes or a wine sauce.  Jim generally managed to fit in a grilled trout, probably caught an hour earlier in the river by the hotel.  For a small man, it was amazing how much he could stow away!”S2620002

Jim, Peter Arundell and Trevor Taylor attended Huschke’s Sunday night party in Solitude and thus Jim and Trevor left at a leisurely hour for the autobahn thrash up to the Eifel hills on Monday.  Jim was thirsty for a win on the circuit that for him represented the greatest of all tests of drivers’ skill.  He had first raced there in 1961, in that Essex Aston with Bruce, and had quickly learned the circuit in Bruce’s 3.8 Jag.  Then, two months later, he had finished fourth in the German GP in the Lotus 21.  That race will forever be remembered as one of the finest hours (or two and a half hours!) in the career of Stirling Moss – but Jim’s fourth place, in his first full season, nursing a brake problem in the spare car (after a big practice accident), should never be under-rated.  From then on, Jim had a Monaco-like relationship with the 15-mile circuit:  he was always quick, always its master – but the circuit, in turn, always found a way of throwing him a joker.  Whilst leading the 1962 1000km race easily in the Lotus 23, Jim became nauseated by an exhaust gas leak from a loose manifold.  And at the ’62 German GP, whilst focussed on de-misting his goggles, he forgot to switch on the fuel pump just before the start.  He recovered to finish a brilliant fourth.

Now, with four World Championship victories behind him, and that new lap record at Solitude, Jim was returning to the Ring with the Lotus 25 in its latest, delectable, form.  Of course he could be worried about suspension failures and the like over the switchbacks of the ‘Ring; he knew that Cedric Selzer and the boys were, too. He trusted them, though; and, ultimately, he had to trust Colin Chapman.

Jim began Friday practice with his race Climax engine from Solitude;  and, continuing that Solitude connection, a driveshaft broke (again) as Jim was preparing for a quick lap. He thus finished the session third-quickest behind John Surtees in the works Ferrari and Lorenzo Bandini’s old Centro Sud BRM. Cedric Selzer and the boys fitted new driveshafts during the lunch break in the Team Lotus lock-up garage in the paddock quadrangle. Bratworst anyone?

Then, in the afternoon, it rained on the main part of the circuit (but not in the pit area). In a nice counterpoint to 2013, all the drivers nonetheless ventured out. Jim was quickest, slicing his 25 through the mist and standing water in 9m 44.0sec. Surtees was second and Ritchie Ginther third in the factory BRM. Overnight, Jim asked for an engine and gearbox change.  Oh yes, and how about leaving reverse out of the ZF ‘box on this occasion, just as a safeguard against any further selection issues?  It’s one thing to hold the car in gear through the Masta kink;  it’s another to do so over a blind brow at the Nurburgring…

It was dry, but overcast, on Saturday, which meant that now was the moment for The Lap.  The 25 felt taut on exploratory looks around the North and South Curve loops; the new engine, mated to the new ZF, seemed strong. Jim lowered himself in.Peakless Bell, Dunlop blue overalls, Leston string-backed gloves, Westover shoes. No seat belts.

The new engine faltered.  It coughed, irritatingly, as Jim left Pflantzgarten for the long roller-coaster straight at the finish. And it wasn’t just a question of losing a second or two:  the baulk killed his acceleration run through third, fourth and fifth gears.  There was no telling how much time he had lost.

Still, though, he was on the pole: that was the quality of the lap. 8min 46.7sec – the fastest ever recorded at the Nurburgring. 20645Without that mis-fire (or whatever it was), he could easily have been in the 43s. Surtees, looking consistently quick, was second-fastest; and third – amazingly – was Lorenzo in the old BRM. It was at about this time that Jim’s long-lasting friendship with Lorenzo was born. Graham Hill, always a threat at the ‘Ring, rounded out the four-car front row; and Bruce was on the inside of the second row in the Cooper, ahead of Ritchie and Jack Brabham. Dan, again wearing a white, Clark-like, peak on his Bell for this race, had nothing but engine trouble with his Brabham. Was Solitude but a dream, he must have been asking?

Wally Hassan, of Coventry Climax, was present at the ‘Ring (on the third anniversary of the V8’s appearance) and suggested the usual remedies:  plug changes, fuel injection clean-outs.  In the quadrangle, as they all sat and stood around, and as the mechanics worked flat out, Jim’s engine sounded perfect.  Fingers were crossed for tomorrow.20737

The start I encourage you to watch on the German TV video below.  Drivers shuffle in their cockpits;  officials wave hands and twitch flags.  Some of the slower cars begin to creep.  Not Clark. The 25 stays rock-solid still.  And then – bang!  Jim releases the clutch against revs, the rear tyres smoke and he is gone, soaring into an immediate lead…

His start, indeed, was exactly as he planned it:  “I decided that a fast start was absolutely vital,” he would say later to Graham Gauld, “because, with all its twists and turns, the ‘Ring can be tricky for anyone trying to overtake, particularly in a Grand Prix car.  So when the flag dropped I departed as quickly as possible…”

It wasn’t to last.  As Jim selected third gear – and this can just be seen on the video – his engine hesitates again, just as it had on his pole lap.  “Surely I haven’t oiled a plug on the line?” he thought, fearing the worst.  Jim had specifically started the engine only a few minutes before the off to prevent just such a problem.  Now, as he focused on the first left- and right-handers and then on the run down back behind the pits, he could see the pack surging nearer in his mirrors. All around the lap he lived with the problem.  Ritchie Ginther went past in the BRM – then Surtees.  The engine would feel as if it was on seven cylinders – and then suddenly it would go onto eight, mid-corner.

In time, of course, Jim began to maximise what he had – “but my progress was erratic, to say the least,” he would say later.  “I developed a whole new system for going around the Nurburgring on seven cylinders.  This was completely spoiled on occasion because I would arrive at a corner I knew was flat-out on seven cylinders and set the car up.  Then the eighth cylinder would come in with a bang and there would follow an exciting second or two as I sorted the car out.  What a difference that one cylinder makes when you have committed yourself to a line with what you thought was a seven-cylinder motor car!”

For the most part of the race Jim was able to keep the Ferrari of John Surtees in sight; indeed, as can be seen in the videos, he was on some parts of the circuit able to re-take the lead – for John, too, was fighting a mis-fire of his own. Usually the Ferrari ran on six clear cylinders;  occasionally it ran on five.  Surtees was up there with Clark, allowing for the intrusions, fighting with the car.20799

And, towards the end, he was able to pull away, for Jim began to feel his gearbox tighten.  On this occasion Jim would settle for second place – the first and only second place he would ever record in a World Championship Grand Prix.  It wasn’t a question of “driving for points” because of “the championship”. It was simply a question of “bringing the car to the finish”.  He did so – 1min 20sec behind John.  Afterwards, the engine problem was traced to yet another dud spark plug.

It was in many ways a momentous race, marked for eternity by highs and lows. John Surtees, the former mult-World Motor Cycle Champion, had now won his first Grand Prix; for their part, Ferrari had scored their first victory since that dark day at Monza, in 1961. Ferrari’s other driver, Willy Mairesse, had meanwhile been seriously injured when he lost his car at Flugplatz; 20687Bruce McLaren had crashed heavily when his Cooper broke a rear wishbone (as distinct from the front suspension that had cracked in practice!);  Bruce had been thrown out and knocked unconscious but further, serious, head injuries had been prevented by his new Bell Magnum.  Chris Amon had broken a couple of ribs when the suspension also failed on his Parnell Lola.  Lorenzo was out early after a shunt with Innes Ireland’s BRP but had still done enough to earn himself a works Ferrari drive at Monza (in place of Mairesse).  Amon, Jo Siffert and Jo Bonnier could all have finished fourth but for mechanical dramas. (Dan Gurney, who also retired his Brabham, can be seen briefly in the German TV feed, standing by the Rob Walker Cooper after it retired with a “broken chassis”); at the end, fourth position had been taken by a German (Gerhard Mitter) and his old Porsche (shown on the video near the podium); Jim Hall had again driven extremely well to finish fifth; and third, after leading and spending most of the race holding his BRM in gear, was another American, Ritchie Ginther.  Over 350,000 paying spectators attended this German GP – even though a Gerhard Mitter-type result was about their greatest expectation;  for these were the days when people watched because it was their national Grand Prix and because these were the best drivers in the world, regardless of nationality.20684S2630002

20666All the drivers – or those who weren’t in hospital – attended the Sunday night celebrations at the Sport Hotel. Jim visited Bruce in Adenau, where he was relieved to find him in reasonably good spirits, and left the victory proceedings early, for he was racing at Brands Hatch the following day in Alan Brown’s Ford Galaxie. Bruce regained consciousness in his hospital bed, completely unaware of how he had got there.  “I was a bit shocked at first,” he said later, “because all around me in the same ward there seemed to be people with bashed heads and banged-up legs.  I had this awful suspicion that I had caused all the carnage…”  He hadn’t – but he had been very lucky. While Bruce’s wife, Pat, drove back to the UK with the Australian driver, Frank Matich (who was staying with the McLarens in Surbiton whilst building up his new Brabham for the 1964 Tasman series) Bruce, resting comfortably in the rear seat of the Rapier, his leg in a precautionary plaster, was chauffeured back to the coast by Eoin Young. It was then but a short hop across the channel in a BUA (British United Airways) Bristol Freighter, with Bruce staying on board the Rapier while Eoin re-fuelled in the cabin. Eoin then drove Bruce all the way to Kingston hospital, where his plaster was quickly removed.  “After that crash at the Nurburgring I thought hard about my future,” Bruce would later say.  “I had once promised myself to give up racing after my first big shunt.  I realize now that that would have been the worst possible thing I could have done.  If you are ever going to look yourself in the eye again, it’s essential to go straight out again and have a go…”

Even though Bruce would lose his life in another accident, at Goodwood, in 1970, I think these words would have been fully-endorsed by his friend, Jim Clark.

Captions, from top: John Surtees in the “V5” Ferrari leads Jim’s “V7” Lotus 25 around the Nurburgring; Sunbeam Rapiers were all the rage in ’63!; the Lochmuhle Hotel – still there today and still trout-worthy; despite yet another engine mis-fire, Jim Clark took the pole with a brilliant lap in the Lotus 25; in the days when former champions were regularly welcomed at races, former Mercedes F1 team-mates, Stirling Moss and Juan Fangio, had fun in a 230SL convertible.  That’s  Jim Hall’s fifth-placed BRP Lotus 24 on the right of the paddock quadrangle;  Surtees glides the Ferrari around the Karussel; Willy Mairesse is stretchered to an ambulance after his Flugplatz shunt.  This sort of scene was all-too-regular at the Nurburgring;  Bruce McLaren was running his Cooper right up with the leaders before his big accident.  And then there was that awful moment:  Bruce’s team-mate, Tony Maggs, draws on a cigarette while journalists and team people hover nervously around the Cooper transporter, awaiting post-race news on Bruce’s condition.  Note the Team Lotus truck on the right. Images: Grand Prix Photo; LAT Photographic; Peter Windsor Collection

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