…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

“He’s boyish and affable…a gentleman…”

1963TimesGPatRiverside_0616Jim was intrigued, when he met Frank Arciero on arrival at LAX, to hear about Frank’s famous 2.7 litre Lotus 19-Climax – the car he would race in Sunday’s LA Times-sponsored Grand Prix at Riverside. Frank struck a cautionary note, however: the tired engine was losing its oil pressure and there wouldn’t be time to fix it should things turn bad.  Jim sensed that it could be Mosport all over again;  it was a function of making long-distance race arrangements for last-minute arrivals.  The Arciero brothers – huge race enthusiasts both – were nonetheless optimistic.  The sons of a father who fought in such WW2 arenas as Monte Cassino (with the Allies!), Frank and Phil were shipped off to America – to Ellis Island – in 1939.   Concrete – construction – was their trade; California was where they made their fortune.  A wine business followed. Then real estate.  And then, in the late 1950s, with a fortune to back both his hand shakes and his promises, Frank began to support the cream of young American racing drivers.  Dan Gurney.  Parnelli Jones.  Phil Hill.  Bobby Unser.  Chuck Daigh.  By 1963, the Arciero Brothers, based in Montebello, East of Los Angeles, California, were regular, headline fixtures on the “Fall Pro Series” – in the big-money, big-engined sports car races at circuits like Bridgehampton, Kent, (Washington), Laguna Seca and Riverside, where internationals like  Stirling Moss, Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory fought the best of the locals – the Walt Hansgens, the Roger Penskes, the Bob Holberts.

The 1963 LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside, further east again from LA, was to be the biggest and best yet for the Arcieros.  In a piece of stage-management that stands right up there with anything that, say, Red Bull, could conjure today, Frank brought Jim Clark and Parnelli Jones together as team-mates in two different types of Lotus – the 2.7 litre Coventry Climax-engined 19 and a similarly-powered 23.  1963TimesGPatRiverside_1528Both drivers, what’s more, would be right there in terms of the outright race win.  There was big prize money to be won at Riverside – $35,000 in total, with about a third of that going to the overall winner. Jim liked this concept; he liked the idea of racing for serious prize money (as distinct from the reasonable starting money in Europe).   He was a professional racing driver.  He liked to earn his money on the race track. He wasn’t one for hardline contract negotiations behind closed doors.

He wasn’t alone, of course, in his attraction to the prize money. I repeat here the line-up of major runners at this Riverside race if only because it feels so good to type their names and the cars they drove:_Riverside-1963-10-13

Jim Clark (Arciero Lotus 19-Climax/Lotus 23B-Ford)

Graham Hill (Ian Walker Lotus 23B-Ford)

Jim Hall (Chaparral-Chevrolet)

AJ Foyt (Scarab-Chevrolet)

Dave MacDonald (King Cobra-Ford)

Bob Holbert (King Cobra-Ford)

Dan Gurney (Genie-Ford)

Roger Penske (Zerex-Ford)

Pedro Rodgriguez (Genie-Ford)

John Surtees (Ferrari)

Richie Ginther (Porsche RS)

Bill Krause (Elva-Ford)

Roy Salvadori (Cooper Monaco-Climax)

Bob Bondurant (Cobra-Ford)

Augie Pabst (Lotus 19-Climax)

Lloyd Ruby (Harrison-Ford)

Jerry Grant (Lotus 19-Buick)

Timmy Mayer (Lotus 23B-Ford)

Frank Gardner (Brabham BT5-Ford)

Dick Thompson (Maserati)

Rodger Ward (Cooper Monaco-Buick)

Jerry Titus (Genie-Chevrolet)

Chuck Parsons (Lotus 23B-Ford)

Ken Miles (Dolphin-Porsche)

The LA Times went crazy with promotion; on race day, out there at Riverside, with the mountains in the backdrop, perched on the grass banks, looking across the ups and downs of the famous circuit under a baking California sun, sat an 82,000-strong crowd.  It was the biggest ever seen at an American road race – bigger even than at all the US GPs run to date.

For Jim, though, the weekend started badly. Graham Hill was there with the well-sorted Walker 23B; Timmy Mayer had just imported one of the Normand Lotus 23Bs (and would race it still in Normand colours); the King Cobras and the Chaparral were obviously going to be hard to beat.  It seemed that everyone had a ride – everyone, that is, except the new World Champion.  The Climax had indeed lost its oil pressure.1963TimesGPatRiverside_12011963TimesGPatRiverside_03521963TimesGPatRiverside_12721963TimesGPatRiverside_0679

Frank felt terrible and promised Jim that he would have a rebuilt engine installed in the 19 for the following weekend’s race at Laguna Seca.  For now, he could but give Jim the telephone number of the local LA Lotus dealer, Bob Challman.  Maybe Bob would lend him a car.

So it was that Jim Clark, the mild-mannered shepherd from the Scots Borders, met Los Angeles.  A diminutive new passenger jet had just had its first flight in the hands of Hank Beaird and Bob Hagen. It was called the Learjet 23. The West Coast seemed to be another country again; the specialist machine shops – and even the race shops – around LA were abuzz with the burgeoning NASA space programme. With Watkins Glen already feeling an age away, Jim therefore set off under the sun to find 2301 Sepulveda Boulevard, Manhattan Beach – Bob Challman’s dealership. He was alone. The eight-hour time difference to England made it impossible for him to involve Andrew Ferguson, Team Lotus’ Racing Manager in the negotiations – even if Colin had sanctioned the cost of trans-Atlantic phone calls. None of his usual mechanics were with him. He knew Dan, of course, and Parnelli, and AJ Foyt, and Rodger Ward, but still he was a foreigner, a newcomer to very different shores.

Bob Challman’s Lotus dealership (now an Enterprise Rental office) was vibrant and innovative.  lBob, who also raced when he had the time, would soon become famous on Madison Avenue for his slickly-worded advertisements for the new Lotus Elan – and for his ‘60s graphics. Convertible Elans looked great in the Californian sun;  Bob’s name, and that of Lotus, sat up there in lights, Vegas-style, by the Manhattan Beach dealership.This was a far cry, of course, from Cheshunt, North London.

An example of the sort of ad copy Bob produced (under the title, “This One Doesn’t Snarl”) can be gained from the following Elan publicity, LA-style:

“To the buff who’s become accustomed to the fierce sounds and exotic forms of the current hairy breeds, the Lotus Elan may come on with a bit of a jolt.  There are no ear-tweaking screams or jungle-like roars, even when turning full-crank.  The Elan moves quickly, but without fanfare.  The body form is also a modest understatement, totally lacking in toothy overhangs and embossed lumps.  The design is functional, and handsomely finished, but by no means overpowering.  If you’re just looking for something to park in front of the apartment – forget it.  On the other hand, if you’re the kind who seeks those inner qualities that come with quiet types, you will find the Elan an attractive package of enduring pleasures.”

All of this, I think, would have brought a smile to the face of one James Clark Jnr.  And it is a matter of record that Bob Challman instantly came to Jim’s rescue.  He just “happened” to have a brand new Lotus 23B awaiting pick-up by a West Coast customer. Of course Jim could race it at Riverside. It would be a privilege.

In the way of Bob’s “modest understatement”, Jim’s new car would be finished in plain silver. There was no signwriting, apart from a small Champion sticker. It didn’t even carry the name of Bob’s racing team (Ecurie Shirlee) – or that of its driver. It simply wore Jim’s new racing number – 222 – in white on the nose and in black (complete with starbursts!) on the rear sides. (Jim’s original Arciero number was 2 and 22 was taken!)

It was indeed a brand new car; and, given that Jim was by then the world’s foremost 23 exponent – he had debuted a 23 a year and a half ago, in Germany – there was every chance that Jim would quickly be able to sort it. All hopes of outright victory had to be expunged. Jim focused on a class win. His main opponents: Graham Hill, naturally, and also Timmy Mayer.  Bill Krause wasn’t slow; and Frank Gardner had showed the pace of the new Brabham BT5 recently at Oulton Park.

The 23 arrived late at Riverside, as befitted its virginity. Jim walked into the circuit in short-sleeved shirt and dark slacks, race bag in hand, in company with Parnelli, who was to race that other Arciero car – a new Lotus 23 fitted with a big Ford V8.  Amazingly, and despite much work at the track, this entry was scratched, too. For Frank and Phil, this was probably the team’s darkest hour.  Jim’s 23, though, fettled by the Ecurie Shirlee mechanics, was eventually ready for the last few minutes of practice.  Jim qualified on the eighth row, alongside Jerry Titus, with a time of 1min 37.6, a second away from Mayer (who was the quickest 23 driver), Hill and Gardner.1963TimesGPatRiverside_0329

You can enjoy with race on the adjoining YouTube clip. It was hot and it was long. There were many retirements. Jim, in familiar Dunlop blues and peakless Bell Magnum, and with no seat belts, lost time at the start after a slight contretemps with Krause but gradually he worked his way through the pack to win his class and to finish fifth overall. His was a drive of svelte mechanical sympathy and wonderfully consistent pace. It was a World Champion’s drive, to be sure – all the more so because he was lapped several times by the race winner, Dave MacDonald.  Regardless of the ignominy, Jim remained focused and calm.  There was a job to be done. And he did it, despite (uniquely, amongst the top six) taking a precautionary, 23-sec stop for fuel on lap 58. He won $2,300 for winning his class and a further $100 from that Champion spark plug bonus sticker.

It would be remiss of me at this point not to pay homage to the very humble but amazingly-talented Dave MacDonald.  With his goggle strap worn inside his gold helmet, in the American fashion of the time, and in white t-shirts and Levis out of the car, Dave was a crew-cut star who shone brightly for too brief a time. Look at some of the angles he creates in that Shelby King Cobra!  Look at his aggression in traffic.  Yes, Jim Hall led the Riverside race in his amazing, revolutionary Chaparral 2.  Soon, though, Hall was lighting up a cigarette and walking back to the pits. Roger Penske was very quick in the 2.7 litre Zerex, despite no longer being allowed to sit centre-chassis. So was Dan Gurney in the smoke-stack Genie-Ford. Pedro Rodriguez continued to display all the flair that had emerged at Mosport and then at Watkins Glen. Bob Holbert was there. It was MacDonald, though, the former drag-racer, who stole the day.  He lapped the entire field.  He won $14,340 plus the Pontiac Pace Car.

Dave would go on to win..and to win.  He won at Kent the following May. And then, a few days later, he was fatally injured in that fiery first-lap accident at Indianapolis.  A great American talent was lost.

Jim enjoyed Riverside.  In the papers the next day they described him as a “gentleman” –as “boyish and affable”. These weren’t the sort of adjectives you’d find regularly in the sports sections of The Times or The Daily Telegraph but in many ways the American writers got it right.  There was much more to Jim Clark than the demure Scots farmer who in Europe was always seen in tandem with Colin Chapman. Here, in California, Jim was the new World Champion living a different sort of life. He was self-contained, a driver-entrepreneur living in the Space Age.

And he liked it, he mused, as he drove north in the rental car up to Laguna Seca.

Captions, from top: Jim in the brand new Lotus 23B at Riverside, 1963; team-mates (almost): sitting on a pick-up truck by the Riverside pit wall, Jim hides his Arciero disappointment with Parnelli Jones; Jim even manages a smile as he stands by the Arciero Lotus 19-Climax, knowing that he’s going to need to find another drive; while awaiting the Ecurie Shirlee 23B, there was plenty of time to look and see.  Here he shares a moment with Dan Gurney, stops for a cuppa and chats to the natives; Bob Challman’s Manhattan dealership as it is today – an Enterprise car lot; Jim in the 23-Ford.  Note the angle of the front wheels and the steering lock.  There’s a nice drift going on here  Below: it was a long, hot afternoon.  Here he is post-race with the Champion man, learning about his finishing bonus  Graphics: from the collections of The Henry Ford;


The beauty of Suzuka’s Esses

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - SaturdayIt’s always a pleasure to watch the uphill Esses section at Suzuka during qualifying – particularly during qualifying because race conditions frequently restrict a driver’s pace and movement to the car he is following. In qualifying, though, when usually the air is free, it is different.  And, for the most part, they’re all trying pretty hard.

I love this section of road not because of one particular corner, although Turn Six is, of course, critical: a perfect exit from T6 sets you up nicely for the straight that leads down to the two Degnas. I love it because it is impossible to be perfect through T6 unless you correctly manipulate the exit of T2, T3, T4 and T5.  The usual errors are to be too quick in these preceding places. We saw Nico Hulkenberg be consistently so on all his runs: he was either a fraction too fast out of T2 or having to use too much road out of T4.  He caught it all, of course;  Nico does that.  In a millisecond, though, he had “asked too much of the car”. Additional energy had poured into the loaded front or rear Pirelli (depending upon steering angle). Momentum, fractionally, had gone.

Romain was similarly slightly-over-the-top. He has this sumptuous way of being able to use the rear of the car to re-set the values but, in doing so, he also creates too much excess energy. He’s got torque and twist going on at the rear in the middle of, say, T4;  the E21 looks perfectly-poised…but in reality it’s not “flat” on the road. It’s a subtle thing, only visible when you see the car on the corner as a whole. You’d never touch it via the on-boards or via close-ups. Kimi?  Kimi on Saturday to my eye looked to be a slightly edgier version of the real one. He never demanded too much from the tyres but his inputs seemed strangely more angular than usual. Perhaps it’s just a Kimi thing these days:  the “real” guy gets out of bed on Sunday.

I’ll talk more about all this on next week’s show. Here, I’d like to say “chapeau” to Mark Webber. He consistently – from Friday onwards – found exactly the right balance between short-term, up-the-hill pace and perfection by T6. This was classic Webber, back where he used to beat Seb on equal terms. No pesky, dumb, chicanes; no boring corners. (The Suzuka Chicane, with it’s downhill, open-space approach, is actually quite an interesting section of road:  the key, after the rush of 130R, is not to brake too early.) Just a lovely section of medium-speed road with blind entries. Lewis similarly threaded the needle – and so, but to a slightly lesser extent, did Seb Vettel, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas, although Jenson seemed to want a little more from Ts 4 and 5 than they were ever going to give him. Perhaps that’s why he later described his laps as “fun”. I also liked Lewis’ “feel” for the wind change on Saturday at Suzuka. Trust him immediately to use this to his advantage; trust some others to use it as some sort of explanation as to why they were less-than-perfect.

Image of Mark Webber, Suzuka, Saturday, October 12: LAT Photographic

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.

The Glen ’63: “…he was given to understatement…”

21699.tifFrom Trenton back to London; from London to New York and then on to Elmira, the small airport local to Watkins Glen.  The 1963 US GP would be Jim Clark’s first as World Champion.

Jim loved his days at The Glen;  everyone did.  The leaves had by now turned red and brown; there was a mist in the mornings that lifted only as the sun broke through before noon.  And this was a Grand Prix run by good, racing people – men like Cameron Argetsinger, who had brought motor racing to Watkins Glen in 1948,  Media Director, Mal Currie, and Chief Steward, Bill Milliken.  All had rich racing and automotive histories.  Milliken had been a Boeing test engineer during World War II and had joined the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (Calspan) in 1945.  As an avid Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) member and former driver/designer, Bill in 1960s and 1970s became the doyen of US automobile engineering research. He was, in short, the sort of Chief Steward in whose presence you doffed your cap. The drivers and key team people stayed nearby at the Glen Motor Inn, hard by the Seneca Lakes, where their hosts were Jo and Helen Franzese, the second-generation Italian couple who loved their F1.  Legends were born overnight at the Glen Motor Inn – and even at the old Jefferson hotel downtown. Lips, though, were always sealed.  Such was life that October week at The Glen.

Ford made a big splash, too, this year of the Lotus-Ford at Indy.  This was the US GP!  Sixty thousand fans were expected.  Cedric Selzer, hooking up with the Team Lotus “US guys” for this race, remembers the drive up from New York airport on the Tuesday before the race:  “We were given the keys of a saloon, a coupe and a convertible and made our way out of the city, heading for Watkins Glen.  When we stopped at traffic lights, people came over and asked us about the cars.  We told them we’d got them from the Ford Motor Company but it took us three days to realize that we’d all been given 1964 models than no-one had seen before.

“The following afternoon, Jim Endruweit hired a Cessna 180, with a pilot, and we flew over the Finger Lakes. It was autumn, and the seasonal colours were unbelievable.It seemed a shame when it was time to get back to the task of winning a motor race…”

Milliken remembers the pre-race party:  “High point of the festivities were the parties at the Argetsinger’s home in Burdette.  All drivers and officials were there in an atmosphere or pure fun and excitement, bolstered by great conversation, good food and dozens of magnums of champagne from the local vineyards.  The homespun hospitality led to permanent friendships and was never forgotten by the drivers or teams.”Watkins_Glen_Dec_2002_209.1

Practice took place over eight absorbing hours, split between two four-hour sessions on Friday (1pm-5pm) and again on Saturday (11am-3pm).  There was a bit of a fracas when, first, Peter Broeker’s Canadian-built four-cylinder Stebro-Ford began spewing – and continued to spew – oil around the circuit, and, second, when Lorenzo Bandini slowed down after a blind brow to talk to his sidelined Ferrari team-mate, John Surtees.  Richie Ginther and Jack Brabham narrowly missed the Number Two Ferrari, igniting a bit of finger-pointing back in the pits and plenty of  “I no-a speak-a di Eengleesh…”.

The Glen in 1963 featured the brand new Tech Centre on top of the hill behind the pits (which were then sited after today’s Turn One), allowing all the teams (except Ferrari, who continued to use Nick Fraboni’s Glen Chevrolet garage and therefore to truck their cars up from the town each morning), to work on their cars in situ, in communal spirit and to be energized by plenty of lighting and electric sockets. (The F1 teams were obliged to convert to the American standard 110volts. On the face of it, this didn’t seem to be a problem. As it turned out, it was.)  For a small incremental fee, race fans could also walk up and down the Kendall shed, looking at the cars at close hand.  GP2 could learn a thing or two from The Glen, 1963…

Jim, in relaxed mood, qualified second, 0.1 sec behind Graham Hill’s old space-frame BRM. Milliken also recalls in his excellent autobiography (Equations in Motion, with an introduction by Dan Gurney) that the timekeepers “always had problems with Colin Chapman. Colin timed his own entries and claimed his faster figures were correct, so Bill Close, one of our timers and a solid Scotsman, put two clocks on each Lotus…”

Trevor Taylor, whose car caught fire in the paddock on Saturday, qualified seventh; and Pedro Rodriguez, having his first F1 drive, and fresh from a win for Ferrari in the Canadian GP sports car event, was 13th in the carburettor-engined 25. This wasn’t a happy weekend for Trevor:  Chapman chose the US GP to tell him that he wouldn’t be retained for 1964. His place would be taken by Lotus’ FJ king, Peter Arundell.

Bruce McLaren lost most of the Saturday morning session when his Cooper-Climax lost oil pressure; and so – as at the British GP – he used his time to watch, learn and compare.  This from his notes in Autosport the following week:  “Graham Hill finished his braking relatively early and had the power on, and the BRM a bit sideways, well before the apex of the slow corner at which I was watching.  Jim Clark, on the other hand, braked hard right into the apex with the inside front wheel just on the point of locking as he started to turn.”

Jim’s race was defined on the dummy grid.  Due to what was later found to be a faulty fuel pump, his 25 wouldn’t start. And then, very quickly, the battery went flat. Selzer: “The truth is that the battery had not taken a proper charge overnight. We used a dry-cell aircraft battery made by Varley with six, white-capped cells. Somehow, we never got the hang of keeping them fully-charged. America was a special case as we had to borrow a 110 volt charger.  We used a ‘fast’ charger when actually what was required was a ‘trickle’ charger. As Jim was left way behind the grid proper, two of us ran over to him and changed the battery. This meant that Jim had to climb out whilst we removed the tail and nose sections of the car in order to get at the battery, which was under the seat.”

I recently bought an audio CD of the 1963 US GP and Stirling Moss provides an hilarious description of these moves whilst watching the start from the main control tower.

“I can see lots of people gathered around Jim Clark’s car.  Looks as though they’re trying to remove the bonnet…no…what is it that you Americans call it?  The hood? Yes, that’s right. The hood. They’re removing the hood. Meanwhile, I can see Graham Hill getting ready for the off….”

Jim eventually lit up the rear Dunlops just as the last-placed car completed its first flying lap. He would finish a brilliant third behind the two BRMs of Hill and Ginther (after Surtees’ V6 Ferrari broke a piston in the closing stages) – but it could have been even closer.  “That mishap on the grid was what I needed to put me back into a fighting mood,” remembers Clark in Jim Clark at the Wheel, “and so I set off after the field, knowing I was going to enjoy the race. I began to catch up the field, and to thread my way through, until I saw Graham Hill in front of me. I thought I was at least going to have a dice with my old rival, albeit with me being a whole lap behind him. This was not to be, for shortly afterwards the fuel pump started acting up and it became a struggle even to keep him in view. I ploughed on through the race, during which many cars dropped out, and finally finished third.”  Jim didn’t know it at the time but Graham, too, had been in major trouble:  a rear roll-bar mount had broken on the BRM. Even so, it is typical of Clark’s character that he should sum-up his US GP with the phrase “…and finally finished third.”  He was given to understatement; his mechanical sympathy in reality did the talking. 

21700.tifNeither of the other Lotus 25s finished, although Pedro showed the promise of things to come by slicing his way up to sixth before retiring with a major engine failure. Given the financial support the Rodriguez family were giving Team Lotus for The Glen and then the Mexican GP, the mechanics had to work very hard to rebuild that engine within the next few days. A new timing chain and valves were found after long “phone-arounds” and other broken valves were repaired at a local machine shop.  David Lazenby, the lead “American” Team Lotus mechanic, returned to Detroit to begin installation of the four-cam Ford engine in the Lotus 29 – and he would be joined, once the Rodriguez engine rebuild was finished, by the F1 boys.  Chapman was always one for keeping his lads amused…21754.tif

There was no podium at The Glen.  As in other races back in 1963, it was the winner alone who took the plaudits and the laurel wreath (and, in the case of the US GP, the kisses from the Race Queen.) The new World Champion, after yet another astonishing race, would have quietly donned his dark blue, turtle-necked sweater, had a soft drink or two, helped the boys in the garage and then repaired to the Glen Motor Inn for a bath and a good dinner.   The Mexican GP was three weeks away.  On the Monday, Jim would journey back to New York and then fly across the continent to Los Angeles.  Ahead, over the next two weekends, lay two sports car events for Frank and Phil Arciero, the wealthy (construction/wine-growing) enthusiasts from Montebello, California, who had already won many races with Dan Gurney. The first would be the LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside, where Jim’s “team-mate” would be his Indy sparring partner, Parnelli Jones.  Then, the following weekend, he would race in the Pacific Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.  On both occasions he would drive the Arciero’s new 2.7 Climax-engined Lotus 19….assuming it was ready.  On the radio in his room that night at The Glen, with the still, cool air from the Lakes reminding him that the European winter was  but a step away, Jim might have heard the Beach Boys chasing their Surfer Girl, or Peter, Paul and Mary Blowin’ In The Wind.

Captions, from top: Jim drifts the Lotus 25-Climax up through the Watkins Glen esses on his way to a fighting third place; less than a year after the loss of his brother, Ricardo, Pedro Rodriguez made his F1 debut at the Glen in a third works Lotus 25-Climax; classic pose: Jim displays the 25’s reclined driving position as he accelerates past an ABC TV tower Images: LAT Photographic 

Buy Cedric Selzer’s wonderful new autobiography, published in aid of Marie Curie Cancer CareS2740001

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


Another one for Seb?

In this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge I had a lot of fun with some of my favourite people, namely the supremely-talented World Series by Renault Championship leader, Kevin Magnussen; Sweden’s F3 maestro, Felix Rosenqvist; my mate Rob Wilson; and Ant Rowlinson, Editor of F1 Racing.   You’ll know Kevin and Felix from previous shows – and I make no excuse for inviting them on again.  If these guys aren’t serious racing drivers, and future F1 winners, then I’m a soccer-loving couch potato who only likes motor racing when there’s lots of overtaking.  Calm, quiet exteriors belie the razor-sharp minds of both of them. I caught up with Rob as he drove to a speaking engagement in Derbyshire and the conversation took the usual turns:  drivers he’s been training recently, the passing of George Bignotti, the mystique that is Michael Schumacher, the closing of Mallory Park.  You know, the usual things.  And Mr Rowlinson, speaking on what he said was a new, ultra-fast internet link (!), did a very nice job of taking us through the latest edition of his mag.  You’ll love his background story to Fernando Alonso’s “selfie” – a word I learnt only recently (from Sharon Swart, the very attractive and intelligent daughter of Ed and Sally Swart – Sally as in Sally “Jim Clark” Stokes).  Sharon is an accomplished film producer, based in California, you might be interested to know.   Anyway, she encouraged me to take some “selfies” when we drove Jim’s Elan around Goodwood recently and this was the result.IMG_0812  Fernando, for his part, certainly did the job with Lorenzo’s iPhone in Monza.   Anyway, this being the build-up to the – wait for it – Korean Grand Prix, I asked a couple of our guests what they thought about F1 at present – about Seb Vettel’s domination.  The answers, I think, you’ll find amusing.

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