Jim Clark’s Epic 1965 Season
There have been other great drivers and other great seasons; none, though, can match Jim Clark’s numbers of 1965. Fifty years ago the Scots sheep farmer not only won his second F1 World Championship but also the Indy 500, the Tasman Cup, the French F2 Championship and numerous saloon and sports car races. All in one year – a year of beautiful, 1.5 litre F1 cars, of gorgeous, outrageous Indy cars, of the first big Group 7 sports cars, of black Raybans, narrow lapels and headscarves for the girls. Jim Clark had won the Championship in 1963 and had come unbearably close to the title in 1962 and 1964. He had almost won at Indy – and he had lost many friends along the way. We find him, on Jan 1, 1965, on the east coast of South Africa, preparing for the first round of the F1 World Championship. His back is hurting from a slipped disc. He hasn’t had a real break. And Colin Chapman is about to give him a hard time for flying first class on the two-day haul from South Africa to New Zealand. We find Jim Clark, OBE, No 1 driver for Team Lotus, about to begin his epic year.
South African GP, East London (where the drivers need both their 1964 and 1965 licences and medical certificates!) With the latest, uprated Coventry Climax V8 powering his Lotus 33, Jim is quickest in every session, starts from the pole, sets fastest race lap (the first at over 100mph) and leads from start to finish. Jim is worried about the slipped-disc injury he has recently incurred during a snowball fight in an Italian ski resort (at a Ford promotion in Cortina featuring Jim, Jack Sears, John Whitmore, etc) but on race day at East London, wearing a corset for back support, orange lenses fitted to his goggles because of the threat of rain, he belies his lack of recent fitness. It is only in the closing stages that he begins to feel the strain – first when it indeed begins to spit and subsequently as the grueling, 2hr, 6min race winds down. Jim waves his fist at the flagman as the chequer is shown a lap early…but it all ends happily. Jim’s friend and Balfour Place flatmate, Jackie Stewart, also makes his official F1 debut for BRM, finishing sixth. (Jackie had ably subbed for Jim in the non-championship Rand GP at Kyalami on December 12, 1964, starting the new Lotus 33B from the pole and winning heat two after a drive-shaft failed on the line in heat one.) Mike Spence might have been second in East London in the other works Lotus 33-Climax but spins needlessly near the end: in Jim’s view, Mike’s interest in the female side of the Maggs family over the preceding days might have been a factor… Jim spends most of the Saturday after the race watching his mates water-skiing: he deems it best to rest his back…but then can’t resist a quick run in the late afternoon. Surprisingly, he feels the better for it. Win No 1 Tuesday, Jan 5
To Auckland, New Zealand, from Johannesburg via Mauritius, Perth and Sydney (Qantas Lockheed Electra). On the back of a menu Jim writes a letter to his girl-friend, Sally Stokes, taking advantage of the free air mail postage from Australia if given to a hostess before landing. After explaining that Colin Chapman (who was also on the flight) had “almost gone mad” when he discovered that Andrew Ferguson (back in Cheshunt) had booked Jim a first-class ticket to New Zealand, Jim starts his second paragraph with the immortal understatement, “Well, as you no doubt know, we won the race…”
Thursday, Jan 7
Auckland, New Zealand After a long, boring flight Jim and Colin check into the new Grafton Bridge Motel in Auckland. Jim’s Hertz rental car for the next four weeks in New Zealand: a grey Ford Zodiac Mk 111. There to meet them is Ray Parsons, the excellent (Australian) mechanic/driver who is to prepare Jim’s Lotus 32B-Climax for the eight-race Tasman Series. Jim has brought his own race kit from South Africa (two pairs of light blue Dunlop overalls, the dark blue Bell Magnum with white peak and two pairs of goggles) and is intrigued to see how the little 32B performs around Pukekohe. The car is based on the 1964 F2 Lotus 32, now fitted with a 2.5 litre Climax four-cylinder engine and a much larger, rounded engine cover to suit. It’s a one-off: any repairs will have to be effected locally (although a new Climax engine arrives by ship after first practice at Pukekohe); and, at a time when sponsorship on racing cars was still banned in Europe and Australia, it carries an Esso logo in liberal New Zealand.
Saturday, Jan 9
New Zealand Grand Prix, Pukekohe It’s the biggest motor racing day of the New Zealand year as huge crowds throng into the combined horse/motor racing circuit south of Auckland. Two heats will precede the New Zealand Grand Prix – with plenty of support races in between. Jim’s major opposition includes Graham Hill in David McKay’s new Brabham-Climax (ride heights set by Graham himself!), Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill in Bruce’s Cooper-Climaxes, Frank Gardner in the Mildren Brabham-Climax and some very quick locals (although Frank Matich’s Brabham-Climax is not yet ready). This Tasman is also a precursor to the tyre wars that would soon affect the world: Bruce has signed with Firestone, Mildren with Goodyear and Dunlop with Team Lotus and McKay’s Scuderia Veloce. Now with the additional support of Dunlop’s Vic Barlow (a recent arrival from London) Jim wins heat one after Bruce spins on oil and glances an ambulance attending another incident; he also takes an immediate lead of the Grand Prix later in the day. On lap two, however, flat out on the back straight, Bruce (now in Phil Hill’s older Cooper) flicks out of Jim’s slipstream and takes the inside line into the hairpin. Jim stays on the outside, is slightly ahead mid-corner – but then suddenly finds himself spinning into retirement: Bruce has run a little wide and has flicked the right-rear wheel of the Lotus. Jim returns to the pits on foot, saying “Bloody McLaren…!” under his breath as he strides towards Colin Chapman. Graham Hill goes on to win from Frank Gardner and the first local home – Jim Palmer. For more insight, watch the excellent YT video of the race (below). Watch for Spencer Martin working on the SV Brabham and future March/Shadow mechanic, Peter Kerr, chatting to Jim Palmer. The night ends in an Auckland night club where Jim gains his revenge in a bun-throwing fight with the McLaren team. Colin Chapman, due to return to England the next day (the Racing Car Show is on at Olympia and there are the F1, Indy, sports car, saloon and F2 race programmes to oversee) is still smarting from Bruce’s top speed advantage that afternoon. He exhorts Ray to work as much as possible on fuel mixtures and resolves to buy Bruce’s engine (running Repco con-rods) for Jim’s 1966 Tasman campaign. Win No 2 (heat)
Sunday, Jan 10
Pukekohe Jim’s water-skiing with Bruce and Patty McLaren, Frank Gardner and local friends. Bruce is on one side of the wake, Jim the other. Suddenly it seems a good idea to try a scissor switch. Jim angles across but then suddenly realizes that Bruce hasn’t reacted. Jim’s heading not only for the big waves but also for his mate. He bales out, missing Bruce by inches before somersaulting heavily into the foam.
Tuesday, Jan 11
Somewhere between Auckland and Levin They’re in a convoy, Bruce, Patty McLaren and Phil Hill in their Morris 1100, Jim in the Zephyr. They stop in a lay-by to stretch their legs. Patty swaps places and slides in next to Jim. Bruce pulls away then stops at the edge of the lay-by to watch his race cars pass by, towed by a pick-up. Jim and Pat are chatting away, talking about this and that. Jim fails to notice the stationary Morris. He plows into the back of it. The damage isn’t serious and so they continue on their way, Jim suitably admonished. Not long afterwards they stop for fuel. They all pile into the kiosk for drinks and sandwiches. “Say, that 1100 sure takes an awful lot of gas,” says Phil, peering out at the Morris. “She’s still drinkin’ it in…” “Or not,” replies Bruce, walking swiftly towards the bowsers. “Look at this, Clark! The fuel’s just pouring out the bottom of the tank! You smashed the fuel tank!”
Saturday, Jan 16
Levin, Gold Leaf International Trophy Jim wins this one with ease – wins both his heat, the final and “The Flying Farewell” sprint at the close of play. Livery touched up by local racer Kenny Smith, the immaculate 32B performs faultlessly on a day when both McLaren Coopers were off-song. Graham Hill has also returned to the UK and is not due to re-appear in the Tasman until mid-February in Sydney. Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer again take the minor placings, although Wellington’s Kerry Grant shows amazing pace with his Brabham before spinning down the field. Wins Nos 3, 4 and 5
Saturday, Jan 23
Lady Wigram Trophy, Wigram airfield Jim’s sixth and seventh wins of the year – another preliminary victory followed by his second Tasman feature win– are again runaways, although Bruce McLaren on this occasion is his nearest rival. Jim also faces falling oil pressure in the second half of the 64min race but nurses the Climax home with typical creativity, slipping the car into neutral before braking areas and flicking it through the gears conventionally by the pits, lest the McLaren team alert Bruce to the oil pressure problem. In this respect, Jim’s mechanical sympathy is a foretaste of what is to come at the 1965 British GP at Silverstone. Wins Nos 6 (heat) and 7
Saturday, Jan 30
Teretonga International Trophy Teretonga, on the tip of New Zealand’s south island, 100 miles from Dunedin, has long been Bruce McLaren territory. He finished second there in 1958; he won it in 1959; and he memorably beat Stirling Moss on the little 1.5 mile circuit in 1962 by removing the right-hand fuel tank from his Cooper and thus weighting it for left-handers (Teretonga has six lefts and two rights.) He repeated the victory in 1963; and then, in 1964, he almost dead-heated with his team-mate, Timmy Mayer. Bruce took that win by 0.1sec. Four wins and a second, in other words, in six years. 1965 ends the sequence. Jim Clark dominates both his preliminary heat and the International Trophy, beating Bruce by 14 sec. As at Wigram, however, Jim has to tend the health of the 32B: water temperatures begin to climb as the race progresses, obliging Jim to back-off with the revs and to give the car as much free air as possible. He does so, despite constantly lapping the back-markers, to make it three Tasman wins out of four. As at Levin, a short, sharp sprint race closes the day’s proceedings; and, despite the overheating worries, Jim duly lines up for this, too, such is his commitment to the fans’ enjoyment. Bruce on this occasion takes the lead into the first corner; Jim settles for second place behind his close friend. Wins Nos 8 (heat) and 9
Friday, February 5
Geoff Sykes, General Secretary of the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC), organisers of the racing at Warwick Farm, has introduced Jim to Jim Hazleton, a flight instructor at Bankstown Airport. Jim has been tutoring Jim for the past few days and feels he’s ready – after a mere 15 hours – to fly solo. Jim has no qualms. He circuit-and-bumps the Cessna 172 as if he’s been flying it all his life and celebrates afterwards with Geoff and Black Jack Brabham, whose been running around in an Aztec. As he steers his little Toyota (courtesy of Arnold Glass) back down the Hume Highway to Sydney, it strikes Jim that he’s never enjoyed a racing series more: the 32B has lots of oomph; he and Ray are having a ball; he’s winning races; and now he’s managed even to find the time he needs for flying. That would never have happened in Europe – or even in the States, where he always seems to be in a rush. He’s looking forward to The Farm, too. Looks like a nicely-balanced circuit. Geoff Sykes is a gem – a man to trust – and also a fellow flying enthusiast. It crosses Jim’s mind that he ought to consult Geoff about setting up an account with the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. Australia’s going decimal in ’66 but it wouldn’t hurt to have an account ready for this time next year. Sunday, February 14, 1965 Peter Windsor writes: my Dad arranges for a flag marshal friend to sneak me into the Warwick Farm paddock. It’s a carefully-planned operation – a bit like the army news we keep hearing on the radio these days from Vietnam. I’m to stand near the fence on the Hume Straight bank at 08:00 sharp. Mr Barker – a flag marshal – will drive by on the circuit in a cream-coloured Peugeot 403. I’m to wave him down, climb the fence and jump into the car’s boot. By the time I’m released – hopefully without anyone noticing – I should in theory be in the Warwick Farm paddock – the forbidden, untouchable place about which I had only dreamt. It works! I blink in the early morning Sydney sunshine, then peer around me. There’s the dark green of Jim Clark’s Lotus! And there’s Jim, hands on hips, shirt off, chatting to officials! I walk tentatively over to the tented area, clutching my rucksack. Inside: my copy of Jim Clark At The Wheel, purchased from Dymocks only four months before; a packed lunch prepared by my Mum; and my Kodak Box Brownie camera, hopefully with the black-and-white film correctly loaded. Has anyone noticed my sudden arrival? I turn around. The Peugeot has already gone. I seem to be in the clear. I stand and watch for a while. They are apparently talking about the Esso badge on Jim’s Lotus. The officials keep walking over to it, measuring it, pondering it. Jim seems quite relaxed. I notice Ray Parsons, in white t-shirt, waving his hands a little. I put down the rucksack and pull out the camera. These are the photos I take:
Note the Esso badge now taped over! That’s Jim, hand on hip, to the centre-right of the 32B’s rear Dunlop.
Jim and the car are wheeled over to the Esso tent. I follow at a distance, fearful that I will be ejected from the paddock. Suddenly, to my left, I see Bruce McLaren sitting in his white Cooper. Again I pull out the pen and the Brownie: I stand and watch, shaking with excitement. Time stands still – probably for two hours, maybe more. I’m watching Jim as he chats to friends, talks to Ray Parsons, looks at the car from every angle imaginable. I even see him helping Ray with a wheel change. He sits down on a canvas chair, laughing with Ray. I summon the courage to move. I hunt for my book, searching for the right page. I fumble for my red Biro – my one and only pen. “Excuse me Mr Clark,” – my Mum had been emphatic about calling him Mr Clark should I ever meet him face-to-face – “would you please sign your book?” “Of course.Thanks for reading it. Did you enjoy it?” “Very much,” I stammer. “I bought it last year and read it right through!” Then suddenly my Dad, who also shares a love of flying with Geoff Sykes, is standing with me, hand on my shoulder. He’s working today as a start-line judge. He thinks it’s probably time for me to cross the track and join my brother in the spectator area down at Creek Corner. Even as engines burst into life and drivers begin to fidget by their cars, I walk slowly towards the paddock exit. In the marshalling area I see Jim, now in blue Dunlop overalls, preparing to pull on his helmet and climb into the Lotus. The dark blue helmet. The famous dark blue helmet with the white peak.
That’s Ray, just to Jim’s left – and the photographer to Ray’s right is the legendary Nigel Snowdon, who took the photo at Bankstown a few days before
Down at Creek the crowd is buzzing. Frank Matich, the brilliant local – and another hero of mine – is on the pole in his gorgeous Team Total light blue Brabham. Graham Hill, back from Europe after missing the previous three races in New Zealand, is second in David McKay’s Brabham; Jim is third and Jack Brabham fourth, ahead of Bruce McLaren and Frank Gardner. Could Frank actually beat the unbeatable? Keith Reagan, on the PA, builds the moment to a frenzy. A group of spectators nearby pile their Eskies on top of one another and jump the fence as the drivers begin their parade laps on the back of open sports cars. My brother and I join the throng, he with the colour film, I with eyes as big as saucers. Marshals in white coats try to hassle us back to the teeming compound. Then they’re with us. Hill. Frank Matich. And now Jim on the back of a white Sprite…with Mike Spence next to him. Mike Spence! “What’s Mike Spence doing here?” I ask Richard. “Not sure. Was it Mike? Are you really sure it was Mike?” As sure as any 12-year-old who’d only seen foggy black-and-whites in old magazines could ever be. We look at our watches, my brother and I. “They’re running late,” says Richard. “It’s all these people on the track. Let’s go.” We wait. It is hot and humid – but then suddenly the PA is shouting: “And they’re off…….! It’s Matich – Frank Matich leads into Paddock….!” We haven’t seen them prior to this start; there have been no “out-laps” apart from the drivers’ parade. We have no idea about what the cars will actually look like, what the sound will be, what the perspectives of speed will be. Now, in seconds, they will be upon us. We can hear a steadily-rising roar. I’m squeezed as near to the track as I can be, pushing the fence wires into a bow almost until they touch the black wooden sleeper fence. “It’s Matich in front…..!” says the voice of Keith Reagan. The crowd screams. Girls yelp. It’s baking hot. Much bigger people are pushing me from both sides and into my back. I’m actually finding it hard to breathe but I don’t know if it’s from the crush or from the explosion of the moment. And then they are suddenly there, engines crackling on over-run, drivers flicking down the gears, car noses dipped and bobbing under brakes. It’s the red SV Brabham of Graham Hill in front! Jim is nearest to me, with the light blue Matich Brabham down the inside. Dust, smoke and noise fill the air. The leaders are accelerating out of the hairpin; still the rest of the field is diving into the corner. I can hear the PA voice above the now-fading engine notes: “And Graham Hill leads the field into the Esses. It’s Clark up to second and Matich has slotted into third…” I’m jumping up and down, up and down, up and down… It is an afternoon of neck-craning and heat, of tip-toes and thirst. I’m hoarse from screaming. Jim Clark is following Hill and I’m willing him on as I’ve never wished for anything in my 12-year-old life. I notice, as they leave Creek Corner, a piece of paper caught in the nose of the Lotus. I note too, for the first time, that Jim is wearing a white handkerchief over his nose and mouth. He sits back and low in the Lotus, perfectly in harmony with the car. Hill’s Brabham seems to move with an abruptness; everything about Jim is fluid. I see flashes of red as he fingertips the Lotus steering wheel mid-corner; the sun catches the car’s chrome exhaust. Richard is keeping a lap chart in his race programme. No 1 – Hill. No 9 – Clark. No 4 – Brabham. No 3 – Matich. The race – the day – thunders on. Will Jim pass Hill? The crowd still yells loudly for Frank Matich. I join them. My perfect result? Clark first, Matich second, McLaren third. Lap 35. Ten to go. I’m as nervous as a calf on branding day. Jim is right behind Graham. I’m fearful there’ll be an accident – just like the one I’d seen at Bathurst in Easter, ’64. My brother thinks Hill’s in trouble. The Brabham sounds ok where we are. Then, almost as if in slow motion, Jim is now moving to the inside and out-braking Graham into Creek. Right in front of us! Jim Clark takes the lead! Graham falls away and then spins. Jack Brabham inherits second place after a strong drive in his new car; and the fabulous Matich retains third place. I am aware only the heat and the dust and the sweat and the tension as the last lap approaches. Bang! The Howard Brothers’ fireworks announce Charles Brittlebank’s waving of the chequered flag. The crowd begins to surge ever-forward. I’m caught in the mayhem. They’re jumping the fences, running the track. I’m fearful but I won’t miss it: I won’t miss the sight of Jim Clark on his Lap of Honour. I wave to him and I think he waves right back. His dark-lensed goggles are down, the face mask is down. I can see his smile and the crest on his tan, kangaroo-skin gloves. We listen on the PA to the prize giving. Dan MacFarlane of the Australian Jockey Club (AJC), owners of Warwick Farm, hands out the trophies under the auspices of Geoff Sykes. We’re all milling around down at Creek. There are still more races to be run. Yet we’re on track, chatting to the flag marshals, asking them about the race. Did you see Clark’s pass? What happened to Hill? He spun and stalled? Where? No-one knew. What I did subsequently discover, after reading Sports Car World a couple of months later, was that Jim, if you please, lost third gear on lap 2 of the 1965 Warwick Farm International 100. All the time he was behind Hill he had been learning how to drive the 32B minus third. He avoided second for fear of never finding a way out of it. He took fourth gear out of Creek and held it there, balancing the 32B on the torque of the Climax 2.5 litre 4, all the way to the pit straight, where he could take fifth. This he held until Creek… It was, by any standards, one of Jim Clark’s greatest drives. And I saw it. I saw him on the day it happened. Win No 10.
Post-script: years later I finally managed to sit in the famous 32B. It still wore its original steering wheel – the one I saw Jim massaging through Creek Corner as he played with the torque of the Climax 2.5. With thanks to Colin Piper and the Nigel Snowdon Collection (Sutton Images) for additional photographs
Sunday, February 21, 1965:
Sundown Park Tasman International, Melbourne Although Jim today clinched the 1965 Tasman Series this wasn’t a great weekend, for on Saturday we lost Lex Davison, that most gentlemanly of gentleman drivers. He ran wide in his new, red Brabham in the esses prior to the penultimate straight but seemed to have it all under control as he bumped over the grass near the horse-track railings. Then, suddenly, launched by a dangerously-sited slab of concrete in a dip, the car flicked sideways into the white fencing. With little cockpit protection – Lex had only recently switched from a “shorty” helmet to an Everoak and still wore polo shirts matched with a colourful bandana – it was over very quickly. An institution in Australian motor racing, Lex was a father-figure to many and a standard-bearer for all. A cloud descended over Sandown Park. For once, Jim didn’t need to learn a Tasman circuit, for he had made a low-key, one-off appearance at Sandown in 1962, ostensibly to secure for Colin Chapman a buyer for the Springbok-winning Lotus 21. In 1965 Jim finished second after racing Jack Brabham hard for most of the distance. Jack’s new compound Goodyears, flown in by Fred Gamble directly from Akron, for the first time appeared to be quicker – and more resilient – than Jim’s Dunlops; and, besides, Jim’s well-used Climax began to lose oil pressure as the race unwound. Even so, he finished only five seconds behind Jack on this fast circuit, with Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren taking third and fourth places in their Firestone-shod Coopers. Frank Matich was again right on the pace with the light blue Team Total/Laurie O’Neill Brabham, qualifying third behind Jack and Jim, but was an early retirement with a broken distributor. Jim’s 33 points were enough to clinch the Tasman Cup with one race still to run (Longford on March 1-3) before the non-championship race at Lakeside on March 7. With grateful thanks to Graham Howard, whose biography of Lex Davison remains an industry standard, and to Peter Bakalor, who was, and still is, way ahead of his time.
Sunday, March 3
Longford Tasman International, Tasmania Jim Clark didn’t score many fighting fifth places in his career, let alone in 1965 – but that was the story of the Longford Tasman round in early March. This was a three-day race meeting on the fast and dangerous Tasmanian road course, beginning with practice on Friday, a sprint race on Saturday and the Australian Grand Prix on Monday. And, for most of it, Jim struggled to stay competitive. On the long Mountford Straight, with its Flying (measured) Mile, the Lotus 32B’s long-stroke Climax was hardly a match for the short-stroke (Repco-developed) Climax in Jack Brabham’s new car – or for the McLaren Cooper short-strokers; and that was when Jim’s Climax was running well. When it wasn’t, which was the case for most of Friday, despite Jim quickly adapting to yet another circuit new to him, the engine was virtually a waste of time. Ray Parsons fitted the spare Team Lotus Climax for the Saturday race but Jim was out-powered by all his nearest opposition, even though he of course pushed the 32B to the limit all the way, passing and then re-passing the rapid 1964 Cooper of Phil Hill. He had to be resigned, though, to finishing only fifth. Bruce McLaren won his second AGP – and his first and only Tasman race of 1965 – after a dominant performance from the pole (and despite a slipping clutch in the closing stages); Jack was a strong second after losing time lapping the 1.5 litre cars of Roly Levis and the Queenslander, Glynn Scott; Phil Hill was an excellent third in the white McLaren Cooper, delighting Bruce, who had remained convinced of Phil’s ability despite his three lean seasons in F1; and Graham Hill was fourth in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham. About the only consolation for Jim was the thought that he would be using Bruce’s engine in 1966 and that the Tasman Cup was now officially his. There was more tragedy, however – more of the type of accidents that typified racing in the 1960s. Rocky Tresise, Lex Davison’s young neighbour and protege, had at first decided not to race at Longford, so distraught were he and the family after Lex’s passing. At the last minute, though, Rocky was persuaded to race the old Davison Cooper – “as a tribute to Lex”. Rocky, a cool, good-looking young Victorian in the mould of Daniel Ricciardo, didn’t qualify well. The mood in his camp was down; the circuit was daunting. I spoke about this not so long ago with John Youl, the rapid Tasmanian who was a bystander on the grid that year. “I looked across at Rocky and his eyes were as big as saucers,” said John. He looked like a lad who was just scared out of his wits.” As he began lap two of the AGP Rocky pulled left to pass the battling 1.5 litre cars of Roly Levis, Bob Jane and Glynn Scott. He mis-judged the move slightly, dangling a left-rear wheel over the track verge, kicking up stones and dust as he did so. Then, almost as this was a bad B-movie, his red Cooper flicked itself sideways and barrell-rolled down the grass beside the pit straight. By the time it came to rest Rocky was dying from severe neck cuts – and the very talented photographer, Robin D’Arbrera, was dead. The 25-year-old cameraman had hitched a ride to Longford with Frank’s Total Team rig and only a few minutes before had been helping to push the light blue Brabham onto the grid. His friend, the equally-talented Ray Simpson, was also standing in the path of Rocky’s Cooper. He dived backwards in miraculous avoidance; Robin, said Ray later, seemed transfixed by the scene, unable to move. The ironies – the losses – were too great to contemplate. The only response was to race on, to race on… For the Longford weekend of speed was a festival – a motor racing party for Tasmanians young and old. Local holiday-makers danced in the streets on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights; the racers annoyed restaurant managers with napkin fights and other, more complicated, frolics. The local council paid for an extension to the race control tower, for re-surfacing on many parts of the circuit and even for some run-off area on some corners. Even so, people died and were injured. As well as Rocky and Robin, a young motor-cyclist, Dennis Wing, was killed on Saturday in an accident just after the Viaduct. Wing had been given his bike – a 350 Norton – for his birthday a few days before. And Robin Pare suffered serious injuries when he rolled his Lotus-Cortina. Such was road racing in the 1960s. Longford’s support races were always good: in 1965, Spencer Martin (Mark Webber’s guest at the 2013 USGP) won two of them in David McKay’s gorgeous 250LM Ferrari, recording 184mph on the straight (approx 10mph faster than the Tasman cars) as he did so. Bob Jane was also a star in his Lotus Cortina – the car owned today by Alex Lynn’s father. Bob, a fast and prolific racer, had been disqualified at Sandown but at Longford ran a close second to Sir Gawaine Baillie’s much more powerful 7-litre Galaxy. A young Alan Moffatt won the last race of the three-day festival with his recently-acquired ex-works Lotus Cortina and would return to the States in May to help Jim win the Indy 500. With grateful thanks to Barry Green, whose labour of love, “Longford: Fast Track Back” continues to occupy pride of place on my bookshelf.
Sunday, March 7
Lakeside 99, near Brisbane, Queensland And it was all for the fun of it. It began with the Lakeside circuit promoter, Sid Sakzewski, offering Jim Clark £1000 (Australian) if he could break the 55 sec barrier for the Lakeside lap – a seemingly impossible feat that would result in an average speed of 100 mph. Clark was enthralled. Throughout his career he had fully endorsed the principle of driving – and racing – for prize money. It would not be easy. Lakeside is a circuit so flowing, and so relatively short, that there isn’t really a point at which you can re-boot: it’s a bit like an oval. One lap determines the next – the exit from the last corner, and the corner preceding the last corner, determines the stability of your platform as you approach the daunting kink beyond the start-finish line. Thus the practice crowds were treated to lap after Jim Clark lap. 56.0. 55.5. 55.0. Fifty-five zero but not fifty-four nine. The pole was Jim’s – but the money remained with Sid. Frank Matich, now with a decent cylinder head on his Climax (robbed from the Total Team Lotus 19), was half-a-second away. Frank Gardner, in the Mildren Brabham, was third. Matich had stunned the overseas drivers by taking the pole for the 1964 Warwick Farm International 100. In 1965, on the same circuit, he had finished a strong third behind Clark and Brabham. Now, for the first time since that race, his light blue Total Team car was running beautifully. Frank seized the lead as the flag dropped. Matich led Clark into the kink and then into the banked Karussel. Frank stayed there, in the lead, smooth and confident, for 18 laps. Then his engine began to mis-fire. He pulled into the pits. Jim now led easily. Barring mechanical failure, the race was his. Frank and his mechanics quickly traced the fault to a cracked distributor rotor button. They replaced it. Frank rejoined the race several laps in arrears. He did so just ahead of Clark. Momentarily off-balance as he settled again into to his rhythm, Frank found himself having to make way for Jim. Two laps later, however, Frank pounced back. “It was beautifully clean racing,” Matich would say later. “I had total confidence in everything Jim was doing – and I think he felt the same way. We were literally wheel-to-wheel. I could anticipate everything Jim was going to do – and he did it beautifully. He told me later that this was one of the most enjoyable races of his career.” Was Jim playing? Was he putting on a show for the crowds? Somewhat. The punch line, however, is that Matich and Clark, in that order, began to lap quicker and quicker as the afternoon unfolded. With 15 laps to run, Jim took the kink flat for the first time, kicking up puffs of dirt as he finessed the oversteery Lotus to within a millimeter of the edge; then Matich, with impeccable hand- and footwork, did likewise. Lap times came down from the mid-51s to the low 50s. Then Clark lapped in 54.9. Then Matich equaled the time. The crowd was on its feet…but of course the question – the question of whether Frank could actually have beaten Jim Clark on this day in early March – remained unanswered. Statistically speaking, Jim won easily from Gardner and Spencer Martin (in the SV Brabham previously driven by Graham Hill). Within the essence of the race, though, it was a different story: Frank was omnipresent, a genuine star, in the minds of all who had been at Lakeside. Rarely do race laps surpass those of qualifying. Jochen Rindt’s would at Monaco in 1970, in his chase of Jack Brabham. At Lakeside in 1965, Jim Clark had every reason to win at the slowest possible speed. Instead, racing to the finest of margins against Frank Matich, he won at record pace. Frank shared a cold beer with Jim and the Lotus Lads as the day wound down. Broken distributor or not, it had been the most enjoyable day’s racing he could remember. The shadows were long now but the day would live forever. Then, suddenly, the mood changed. Over the PA he heard Jim Clark’s name. “Jim Clark wanted at the stewards’ office. Jim Clark.” Jim looked puzzled, put down his beer and walked over to the control tower. Frank joined him but waited outside. It wasn’t long before Clark emerged, looking stunned. “What’s going on? What’s the problem?” asked Frank. “Would you believe they’re going to disqualify me for having a beer?” said Jim. “Some nonsense about it being illegal to drink alcohol in the paddock. I tell you, I’m going to think twice about coming back to Australia again after this…” Frank strode purposefully into the Stewards’ enclave. “What do you guys think you’re doing?” he said in Australian vernacular. “Do you realize how this is going to go down when they hear about it overseas? And I tell you this. Unless you let this whole thing drop I’m never going to race in Queensland again…” They did drop it. Little more was said of it. And the friendship of Clark and Matich was cemented for evermore. Born of mutual respect, it blossomed that day at Lakeside. Race win No 11
Saturday, March 13
Race of Champions, Brands Hatch, Kent, England Jim had barely a moment to reflect upon his success in the Tasman Series. Including the South African GP, he’d now been on the road since late December, 1964 – and that had been a road of non-stop racing or travel. On the plus side, he’d been extraordinarily successful; he’d even gone solo in a Cessna. Less positive was the pace of his schedule. Upon landing at Heathrow after the punishing 707 flight from Brisbane, via Sydney, Singapore, Bangkok, Karachi, Calcutta, Tehran, Beirut, Athens and Frankfurt, he made his way immediately to Sir John Whtimore’s flat in Balfour Place, Mayfair. And there he collapsed. “I don’t think I’d ever seen Jim look so exhausted,” said his friend, Jackie Stewart. “He was absolutely shattered.” Nor was there time really to recover, for immediately ahead lay the European racing season. The Brands Hatch non-championship F1 Race of Champions (billed incorrectly as “the first F1 race of 1965”: the South African GP took that honour!) would take place that weekend – in exactly three days’ time. Then it would be up to Silverstone for a sports car race, followed straight away by a trans-Atlantic flight to Miami. There he would race an America Ford Cortina Lotus in the Sebring Three Hours (single-handedly on this occasion). All this – and a month of May at Indianapolis – stared Jim in the face as he tried to settle into the UK time-zone. Andrew Ferguson in addition needed Jim up at Cheshunt to review expenses, conduct a seat fitting for the new Lotus 38 Indy car and sort out the recently-earned prize money. Then there was the matter of Jim’s road car. Ford of England wanted him in a Cortina Lotus and Lotus Cars in an Elan. All this required more and more paperwork. Jim had barely enough time to breathe. There was almost a sense of relief, then, when Jim set off early on Friday morning for Brands Hatch. Alongside him in the white Radbourne Elan (featuring much-modified interior fittings): Sally Stokes – his girl-friend, timekeeper and date for that night’s black tie gala at the Park Lane Hotel (music courtesy of Nat Temple and Kathy Kirby!). In his Leston track bag in the Elan’s boot: the Harrods camel-coloured cardigan Sally had given Jim for Christmas. The feel of the Lotus 33 – and the sheer pleasure of driving it around Brands – quickly blew away any feelings of fatigue. Wearing his new cardigan in the car on this crisp, late-winter’s day, Jim qualified on the pole and won 100 bottles of champagne along the way. As in South Africa, he worked in perfect harmony with both the circuit and the car – and the large practice day crowd appreciated every second of it – particularly those out at Hawthorns and Westfield, where Jim was drifting the 33 at high speed with fingertip grace. They were also treated to the sight of Jim testing Goodyears for the first time (in the spare car). Graham Hill was over half a second away in the BRM and Mike Spence, Jim’s team-mate, the same gap away in P3. Race day – Saturday – began as Jim Clark days invariably do. Jim easily won the first of the two 60-lap Race of Champions heats and seemed destined for an easy victory overall. True, Dan Gurney had driven beautifully through the field to finish second in the new Brabham-Climax – and would therefore line-up alongside Jim for the second, 60-lap race – but Jim, surely, would cruise to overall victory on this glorious, action-packed day? Before we had that answer, Jim was out for the 20-lap Ilford Trohpy race in the Ford of Britain 1965 Lotus Cortina, now fitted with leaf-spring rear suspension. He out-dragged Roy Pierpoint’s Mustang into Paddock and for a while thereafter treated the crowd to a perfect demonstration of high-speed, precision three-wheeled motoring. The Cortina flew way over the kerbs at Bottom an South Bank Bends, its inside steel wheel at least two feet in the air. Jim sat comfortably back in the Cortina’s racing seat, his arms – frequently crossed – giving at least some idea of how hard the acrobat was working. Then – as if in portent – it was all over. Jim suddenly peeled into the pits, complaining to Bob Dance of a wheel vibration. Several laps were lost while the four nuts were re-tightened on each front wheel, but Jim’s race ended for good when he lost a wheel at Dingle Dell. In the context of Kimi Raikkonen’s recent retirement from the Australian GP, I guess this shows that nothing in racing really changes. In the context of Jim’s 1965 Cortina season, it was an indication of how much more load was now passing through the hubs into the drive pegs. That disappointment behind him, Jim now looked forward to Heat Two of the Race of Champions. Would he cruise to the win with ease, taking advantage of his 20-sec margin over Giurney in Heat One? He could have done so. Instead, Jim and Colin Chapman were intrigued by the performance of the new Goodyears on the factory Brabhams. How did they really stack up against the Dunlops of Team Lotus? Could they sustain their pace? What would be their degradation if really pushed? How big a problem for Dunlop were they going to pose over the season ahead? These were the thoughts that occupied Jim’s mind as he cruised up from the dummy grid. Jim won the start and initially drove flat out, as was his wont. Gurney stayed with him. Jim smiled inwardly. Good old Dan. A class act – a gentleman. And the only F1 driver Jim truly respected as an equal. Jim eased off a little, searching for renewed Dunlop grip. He found it. He pushed hard – and still Dan was there in his mirrors. Jim began to analyse their comparative laps. He seemed to be able to pull away on the quick corners around the back – and through Paddock Bend – but Dan was right on him into and out of Druids, where braking and traction counted. And so they raced on. The crowd – fed by brilliant PA commentary – was on tenterhooks. The race for third place was inconsequential, for Jim Clark had officially just become the first driver ever to lap Brands at 100 mph (1min 35.4 sec). Then – suddenly – the impossible seemed to be happening. Jim, busy with his rear vision mirrors, ran a little wide out of Bottom Bend. He rode with the bumps, over the grass…but then suddenly the Lotus hit a culvert, bounced upwards and then plunged nose first into the earth bank on the right. The impact was big – it was the sort of accident that had so recently cost the life of Lex Davison. Bodywork, clods of earth and general debris flew everywhere. Jim Clark had crashed with no seat belts and no inbuilt “deformable structures”. It could have been disastrous. Instead, he was ok. He lifted himself from the wreck. Marshals ran to his aid. Sally was there with a jacket in the pits, Colin with an arm of comfort. Jim was initially dazed but quickly snapped out of it. He’d made a mistake. It happens. Perhaps it was a function – a small function – of his recent schedule. Perhaps it would have happened anyway. The lesson was simple: just race. Don’t think too much about the opposition. Don’t over-analyse. Jim was quiet and not a little bruised as he drove back into London. At last, over the next couple of days, he could take it easy and rest. Ironically, Dan was to retire his Brabham with victory in sight. Mike Spence won the day from that other talented Number Two – Jackie Stewart. Race win No 12
Saturday, March 20, 1965. Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England
Jim still carried a few war wounds up to Silverstone the following weekend. This was to be his first race in the latest (Mk 2) version of the Lotus 30 sports car – Colin Chapman’s answer to the big-banger Group 7 cars being built by Lola and Bruce McLaren. The philosophy was simple: a sculpted, flowing bodywork was mounted over a backbone steel chassis (reminiscent of the Lotus Elan’s). No more the space-frame of the Lotus 19 or 23, in other words. The 30 would initiate a whole new stream of Lotus customer sales, although in the back half of 1964 Jim had found its 4.7 litre Ford V8 to be more than a match for the 30’s less-than-rigid chassis. The 19’s space-frame chassis had been stiffer – as, of course, were the single-seater monocoques naturally associated with Chapman. The Mk2 Lotus 30 was a little better in this department – but still a handful. Jim won, though, from the pole at Silverstone, using the torrential rain – and new Dunlop R7s – to nullify the 30’s handling gremlins. Such was its flex, indeed, that it actually proved to be a supple car for the slippery conditions. None of that, however, should detract from Jim’s ability to extract the utmost from this big beast of a car on that flooded circuit – or to put on a show for those who braved the elements. The race was shortened for safety reasons but few who were there would forget the image of Clark dancing through the standing water, flicking the 30 from lock to lock in this relatively unimportant national sports car race that was in reality the supporting event for the Senior Service 200 F2 Trophy. Jim’s opposition was solid, too: John Surtees qualified second in his gorgeous Lola T70-Taco Olds (and would finish second, despite diving into the pits for cover even before the chequered flag was waved early!); and Bruce McLaren was third-quickest in his new McLaren-Elva. Jim qualified fourth for the F2 race but its abandonment meant that the new F2 season, complete with Honda power in Jack Brabham’s BT16, would now not take place until Oulton Park the following weekend (minus Jim). Delighted to have won at Silverstone – but soaked to the skin – Jim then made a hasty getaway for Edington Mains. There he would spend two days before his departure for sunnier climbs. Note: Charlie Crichton-Stuart (pictured here with Carlos Reutemann) finished fourth in the F3 race at this wet Silverstone meeting after starting from the pole in his SMART – Stirlng Moss Automobile Race Team – Brabham). Race win No 13
Friday, March 26
Marlboro 250, Sebring As in 1964, Jim was delighted to accept an offer from Ford of America to race a Team Lotus Cortina in the preliminary race for the big Sebring 12 Hour sports car classic. Contemporary writers made no mention of the irony – of the world’s Number One driver flying all the way to Florida merely to race a saloon car in the pre-game show – but today it has to be seen in the context of a Lewis Hamilton flying to Brazil to do a stock car race with his mate Rubens Barrichello. Or not. Anyway, fifty years ago, Jim raced one factory Cortina in the (three-hour) Marlboro 250 – cigarette advertising was on the rise – and his friend, Jack Sears, the other. Bob Dance, who had just turned 30, was on hand in support, as was Ray Parsons, Jim’s team-mate in the same race the year before. Against light opposition (that included, at the last minute, Pedro Rodriguez in a BMW 1800Ti!), Jim and Jack dominated the event, even to the extent of trying to stage a photographic dead-heat (with Jack in reality finishing two laps behind after some dramas). A slightly abashed Jim took the plaudits in Victory Circle, but there was no real time to celebrate – or to watch friends like Bruce McLaren finish second in the 12 Hour race in the blue-and-white factory Ford GT (as it was known then, without the “40” nomenclature): Jim was due to race the Lotus 33 at Syracuse the following weekend. Exhausted still from the recent globe-trotting, he boarded yet another 707 in Miami before seeking some sleep. He was due to test the new Indy car at Snetterton (lapping the circuit anti-clockwise) a few days later. Race win No 14
Sunday, April 4
Syracuse Grand Prix, Sicily The second F1 non-championship race of the year, the Syracuse Grand Prix was held on a ruthlessly fast road course in the ancient city: walls and Armco barriers lined the track – and a few spectators sat mighty close too. This was basically a start-money show for Team Lotus, with Colin Chapman taking a large-ish bag of gold for giving the race some stature. Ferrari entered two cars for John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini but BRM, Brabham and Cooper stayed away: their lesser starting money could not justify the long trip south. It wasn’t an easy weekend. It was hot; the gear ratios were too short in practice; and, in the race, his engine, whisping smoke under acceleration, quickly lost power. Even so, he drove in classic damage-limitation mode, using all his prowess to keep the 33 up where in theory it belonged. Jim’s Syracuse laps were all about reducing revs and minimizing braking and steering “spikes”. Of course, no F1 teams used telemetry back then: had Team Lotus done so, “the engineers” would have seen plenty of curves on Jim Clark’s data. Jim duly won the pole but the race was another matter: Ferrari’s John Surtees was fast – as was the dynamic Jo Siffert, Rob Walker’s driver in the dark blue Brabham-BRM. Surtees led – then Siffert led. Jim, refusing to push the Climax hard in the early stages, watched from third place. Would Jim have won had the others not struck trouble? Probably not. Reality, though, is that Jim did the best possible job of keeping his car in one piece in the torrid race conditions; the Ferrari faded – and so did the Walker Brabham. Jim Clark eventually won the Syracuse GP going away. Images: LAT Photographic Race win No 15
Saturday, April 10
Snetterton, Norfolk, England. Autocar F2 Trophy Prior to Snetterton, Jim tested the two new Indy Lotus 38s and the F1 Lotus 33 at Silverstone. Despite running offset suspension and Trenton oval gear ratios, Jim was only a few seconds away from an F1 time with the new 38 (pictured below at its Cheshunt launch). That was the good news; the bad was that the latest Ford V8 engine was not looking good: the Offenhausers dominated the early USAC races. Could Lotus-Ford turn it around in time for the month of May? Although Jim had practised the new Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth in the wet at Silverstone on March 20, he didn’t race it for the first time until this Snetterton meeting. The entry was outstanding – as detailed in another post. The 35, like the 27 and 32, was art on wheels – a smaller Lotus 33, in effect, built around the Chapman trademark monocoque. It was finished in Team Lotus green and yellow, with “Ron Harris Team Lotus” signwriting on the flanks. Jim drove one car and his F1 team-mate, Mike Spence, the other (powered by a BRM engine). Jim wore his customary blue Dunlop overalls and Bell Magnum with white peak.
The Lotus 35 (above) featured a central exhaust from its 1-litre Cosworth. Otherwise, it was basically a scaled-down Lotus 33
Jochen Rindt took the pole in the Winkelmann Brabham (in a phrase that would become familiar over the next three years), ahead of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Mike Beckwith, Jim, Alan Rees, Jack in the Brabham-Honda, Denny Hulme and Mike Spence, but, with Jochen running into ignition problems at the start, Heat One fell wide open. The leading bunch: Stewart, Brabham, Beckwith (who we featured strongly in our 1963 Clark posts: very under-rated!) Hill, Clark and Rees. The Brabhams had the handling and top speed advantage but Jim used the tow and all of his skill to keep the 35 up there. Jim led across the line after seven laps – and was then swamped again as the pack responded. Thus they entered the final lap. The crowd was on tenterhooks; the atmosphere was electric. Graham Hill led into the last corner but Jim pulled up alongside him, failing to win by a margin smaller than even the timekeepers could measure. Graham Hill drove brilliantly too in Heat Two, scything John Coombs’ Brabham back through the field after a sluggish start. Jim was leading as the chequered flag loomed….well….at this point I must stand aside for Gregor Grant: “Moustache quivering, Graham Hill was in the throes of one of his astonishing last-minute efforts to track down and pass the leader in the second part of the Autocar Trophy race when, all of a sudden, victory was handed him on a plate when Jim Clark’s Lotus went sick, to crawl over the line with a blown engine. Both Hill’s Brabham-BRM and Clark’s Lotus-Cosworth virtually dead-heated in the first part, so wherever was adjudged winner of the second was victor overall…” The verdict in this second race, again by the tiniest of margins, when to Hill. The brilliant Mike Beckwith finished second overall for Normand Racing, with Jim third. Nor did the entertainment end there: Jim was also out in the factory Lotus Cortina, on this occasion finishing second in class to Frank Gardner’s Willment Cortina. Jim lost a little time when he was nerfed by team-mate Jack Sears (with whom Jim and Sally were staying overnight!) and was subsequently slowed when the new BRM-tuned twin-cam in the Ford Lotus Cortina lost power. Grant summed up the day’s racing thus in the Autosport editorial of that week: “Last Saturday’s race meeting at Snetterton was one of the closest seen in this country for a long time. Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and others tried all they knew. Few will forget the attempts of Clark to wrest the lead from the wily Hill as the pair flashed down the start-finish straight lap after lap. Clark tried the right, the left and he attempted to slipstream the Brabham – but each time he fell back as they approached Riches. The last lap was tremendous, as Clark drew up alongside Hill so that they virtually dead-heated. The BRSCC ran a first-class meeting, the weather actually stayed fine and, all in all, it was a very good day indeed.”
Monday, April 19
Goodwood, West Sussex, England Jim loved the Goodwood Easter Monday meeting: he loved Goodwood in general. He met the circuit for the first time in 1959, when he watched from the pits as Maston Gregory totalled his Ecurie Ecosse Torero Jag in the TT, but on every day thereafter, whether he was drifting John Ogier’s Aston Zagato through Fordwater, testing the Aston F1 car or winning races with the FJ Lotus 18, F1 Lotus 25 and Lotus-Cortina, it was relationship marked by mutual respect and great harmony.
By 1965 there were already mutterings of future closures at Goodwood but Jim, like most motor racing people at the time, would hear nothing of it. His participation that year extended to three races in three different cars. It seemed inconceivable that all this could suddenly come to an end.
Jim drove to the Sussex Downs (for Saturday practice and then racing on Easter Monday) in his white Radbourne Elan with Sally alongside him. In his Leston track bag lay his usual blue Dunlops – neatly ironed; his Westover boots; the famous fawn cardigan from Harrods; and his dark blue Bell Magnum. For this meeting Jim chose to wear the Magnum without its white peak.
Hail, sleet, strong winds and snow greeted the huge crowds on race day, magnifying the usual traffic jams and mud-slides in the grass car parks. White-coated programme vendors needed two sets of hands to sort out the sale-and-change, to hold down their cloth caps and control the flow of customers.
Once it were there, though, the crowd was treated to one of the all-time great motor race meetings.The weather – as testing as it was – took a back seat.
Race One on the programme was a Formula 3 thriller, with victory, before the snow set in, going to the American, Roy Pike, from the brilliant Piers Courage (whose Brabham lost its clutch virtually at the start) and Jonathan Williams.
Then, even as you were thinking of opening the Thermos for a quick cuppa, out came the saloon car runners, led by none other than Jim Clark in the Team Lotus Cortina plus Mustangs, Galaxies and Minis. Jim duly won this race – the St Mary’s Trophy (in the wet, and reduced from ten laps to five) from team-mate Jack Sears and Roy Pierpoint’s Mustang (following the exclusion of Mike Salmon’s Mustang).
Jim brought the cream-and-green Cortina to a halt outside the control tower for the usual trophy presentation, then stepped briskly over to the marshalling area, where Dick Scammell and the boys were warming-up the Lotus 33-Climax F1 car for the Daily Mirror Trophy race.This was chassis R6, the car last raced by Mike Spence in the 1964 Mexican GP, now updated with the latest suspension geometry around the new Dunlop R7s and fitted with a new four-valve Climax engine. Jim had tested this briefly at Goodwood before the race but on Saturday, with the new engine running a little off-song, he had qualified only third behind the two BRMs of Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill.
Jim looks back at the new four-valve Climax V8 fitted to his Lotus 33. Note new Dunlop R7s
The sun actually broke through the clouds as the F1 cars filed out onto the circuit for a reconnaissance lap before pulling up onto the dummy grid. Mike Spence was on the inside of the second row in the second Team Lotus 33, with the very under-rated Bob Anderson alongside him in his privately-entered Brabham BT11. Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Dan Gurney lined up on row three. Only the Ferraris were missing.
Well – Spence was too. His 2-valve Climax refused to be push-started on the dummy grid and thus he was in pit lane as Hill led the pack into Madgwick, the famous double-apex right-hander, with Jim diving into second place ahead of Jackie; Dan Gurney moved quickly up into fourth place.
Jim very quickly found himself re-running the Battle of Snetterton the week before, when he also raced wheel-to-wheel with Graham Hill. Now they were in F1 cars, nose-to-tail, and occasionally side-by-side around the fast sweeps of Goodwood, with Jim’s new engine giving him plenty of power on the straights and Graham’s BRM proving very quick under braking, particularly into St Mary’s.The 1.5 litre F1 cars seemed perfectly-suited to Goodwood – fast, but not too fast; big – but not too big. Oversteer and four-wheel-drifts were the order of the day. This was motor racing at its very best.
Jim took the lead into Woodcote on lap 5, timing his pass perfectly before consolidating it through the chicane. Head down, he focused on pulling away – something he did with both class and with touch. Behind, Dan Gurney was again showing his pace in the new Brabham BT11. He passed first Stewart and then Hill and looked to be set for another strong finish…when his engine blew. Stewart, too, would stop with a failed camshaft in the BRM V8, leaving Graham, his own engine now mis-firing, in a distant second place. Jim thus won the last F1 race ever to be staged at Goodwood, sharing fastest lap with his friend, Jackie Stewart – but it was a close-run thing: a Dunlop tyre lost pressure as Jim entered Fordwater on his slow-down lap…
Jim poses with the Daily Mirror Trophy while the BARC’s Graham White (centre) looks on. Colin Chapman, sporting an Indy “Enco” jacket, looks suitably delighted
There was little time for celebration, for next on the programme was the Sussex Trophy for GT cars. The very quick Roger Mac won this outright with his Cobra, ahead of Sears (also in a Cobra) and Peter Sutcliffe’s Ferrari GTO. Jim’s friend and Tasman partner, Ray Parsons, won his class in his lightweight Elan – egged on by Jim’s pit signals from the pits.
Tea and scones anyone? No time for that either, as Jim Clark was now out again in the 50-mile Lavant Cup sports car race, his Mk 2 Lotus 30 now fitted with a much more powerful 5.3 litre Ford V8. Bruce McLaren was on the pole in his beautifully-engineered red McLaren M1A-Olds, but Jim won the start and stayed there all the way, rumbling the big, ungainly Lotus around Goodwood to win by 20 sec from the McLaren. Bruce was potentially much quicker but, under threatening skies, chose to run wet tyres for what ultimately turned out to be a dry race. Interestingly, Jim was only 0.2 sec slower around Goodwood in the Lotus 30 than he had been in the F1 Lotus 33, albeit with those lap times being formed in very different ways. Bruce McLaren put it all into perspective on Saturday, though, when he lapped his 4.5 litre McLaren-Olds nearly half-a-second quicker than Stewart’s F1 pole time.an
So a Glorious Goodwood it had been for Jim Clark.Three from three – in three widely disparate racing cars. And still the rush continued: with barely time to change out of his Dunlops, Jim drove straight to Heathrow to board a flight for New York. He was due to test the new Indy Lotus 38 at Trenton for two days before returning to Europe for the following weekend’s Grand Prix de Pau. Images: LAT Photographic Race wins 16, 17 and 18
Pau, France, April 25
Jim raises a gloved hand to Bill Gavin after his flawless victory at Pau
The statistics are easy to read: Jim Clark won the Pau Grand Prix with the Ron Harris-Team Lotus 35-Cosworth by a huge margin. Reality was much grittier. Jim was battling time zones as he recovered from the Trenton test. The 38 had continued to impress in its shakedown runs, although Jim was lucky not to hit the wall when the throttle jammed open. (Roger McCluskey, in the second 38, was not so fortunate: a similar problem in the closing minutes of testing caused the American to damage the car badly.) Jim was originally planning to stay in the States race at Trenton on April 25 but found himself returning to Europe due to the usual red tape of that era: actually to race at Trenton he was going to need to take out a US racing licence (thanks to the race organisers failing to register their event as an “international;”!); if he missed Pau he was going to be in breach of a signed F2 participation contract. Thus Jim raced again at Pau – at a circuit he loved but which lay in total contrast to the torrid, one-mile oval in the New Jersey Fairgrounds.
In early practice in France Jim was only third on experimental Goodyear tyres, with the pole going to the fast-rising Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell Cooper-BRM). The middle of the front row filled by Jim’s arch-rival from Snetterton and Goodwood, Graham Hill (John Coombs Brabham-BRM). Richard Attwood and Mike Beckwith again showed their prodigious talent by qualifying fourth and fifth ahead of such names as Denny Hulme, Frank Gardner (in the second Tyrrell Cooper-BRM), Jochen Rindt, Tony Maggs, Jack Brabham (with Honda power) and Jo Schlesser. Jim’s team-mate for the weekend, Brian Hart, qualified 14th in his BRM-powered Lotus 35. Jim switched to Dunlop R6s for the slower, second session of practice and elected to use these in the race.They weren’t as quick as the new R7s fitted to the Tyrrell and Coombs entries but they were more consistent than the new Goodyears.
Tension filled the air on Sunday, for rain fell heavily right up until the start. Jim, again racing without the white peak on his dark blue helmet, found the best traction off the line and led Jackie and Richard Attwood into the unkown; Graham Hill lagged, however: his would thereafter be a (relatively short) race of recovery. At this point I can do no better than hand over to Bill Gavin’s graphic description in Autosport:
“Clark really meant business and his ever-changing facial expressions showed graphically the effort he was putting into his driving. On the faster corners the tail of the Lotus was hung right out as he kept the power well on, and he was getting away by nearly 2sec per lap, even as the track started to dry.
“Then, with the rain falling again, Jim’s lead began to increase at an even greater rate. At half-distance only Attwood was on the same lap as Clark. Stewart had spun and lost two laps; Hill was going well but stopped with a gearbox problem; and then, finally, Rindt realized that he had been running at less than his true pace and closed on Attwood. Then he, too, spun in the slippery conditions.”
Jim passes Denny Hulme’s shunted Brabham en route to victory at Pau (for the fourth time in his career). Note kerb-scuffed right-front Dunlop R6
In other words, Jim was again the complete master.This was a relatively minor race in the context of his career – a 1-litre F2 race in the days when there wasn‘t even an official F2 Championship; there were plenty of buildings and walls to hit on the Pau street circuit, the conditions were atrocious…but the opposition was world class. Against Stewart, Hill and Rindt, Jim Clark gave it 100 per cent – and he drove with perfection throughout. Race win No 19
Images: LAT Photographic
May 1, 1965. Oulton Park, Cheshire, England
RAC Tourist Trophy Although the Mk 2 Lotus 30-Ford had given Jim some nice wins in the early races of 1965, and despite a crisp shot of the Mk 1 adorning the Oulton Park race programme, its inherent problems caught up with it at the two-part Tourist Trophy on Saturday, May 1. The new 5.3 litre Ford V8 blew up during practice, obliging Jim to start from the inside of the second row of the four-three-four grid, his 30 now fitted with the 4.7-litre Ford thanks to another of the legendary Team Lotus all-nighters. The 5.9 litre Lola T70-Chev of John Surtees sat on the pole, ahead of Bruce McLaren’s very quick new (automatic-transmission) 5.0-litre M1A-Olds, David Hobbs, impressing everyone with the Harold Young T70 and Denny Hulme’s gorgeous little (2-litre) Brabham BT8. In the downtime on Friday afternoon Jim gave Vic Wilson’s Mk 1 Lotus 30 a quick run for a revealing back-to-back.
All was set on Saturday morning for another of the great Oulton meetings.
Jim duly jumped up to third place as the pack roared towards Old Hall – and there he stayed, tucked in behind Bruce’s “slush-box” McLaren. In the draft of the red car, however, he 30 was a handful around Oulton; there were no full-blooded slides through corners like Old Hall and Lodge on this day with Jim Clark. The 30 wasn’t stiff enough for that. Instead, Jim was on tip-toes throughout the lap, manipulating the car with subtle inputs as he balanced the 30 on the thinnest ribbon of grip. He again wore the dark blue helmet without its peak, this time paired with a white handerkerchief over his mouth and nose. The 30, despite its percolating nature, looked stunning with its yellow stripe flaring out over the nose.
Bruce’s new gearbox eventually shrouded itself in smoke and obliged him to stop, elevating Jim to what should have been a win, for Big John was also in trouble (with a loose steering rack). Just before mid-race, however, the 30’s handling deteriorated exponentially. Jim was obliged to stop for new Dunlops (and fuel, as it happened). Still the car felt dangerous. Jim stopped again for a precautionary check. Nothing could be found. He raced on to the flag, his lap times as fast as ever…
He therefore started Part Two from the mid-field – a couple of rows ahead Bruce. The pair of them then put on a show that will stand as one of the all-time greats at Oulton Park. Jim was always ahead but lap records – and slower cars – were there for the taking. Big sports car racing had arrived!
Victory, though, went to Denny Hulme’s “giant-killing” little Brabham. Bruce retired from the second race with engine problems and Jim’s run ended when the gearbox failed. He spun at the Esso hairpin when the car jumped out of gear; Jim could live with this – as he had lived with the 25 in the 1963 Belgian GP, for example – but when the gears began to jam it was clearly time to stop.
Jim flew straight afterwards back to the States – to Indy, for the full month of May. While attention in Europe turned to the Silverstone International Trophy F1 race (winner: Jackie Stewart), Jim instead settled down to the long, intensive test programme that would lead to the Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day (the last Monday of May; in 1965, May 31). Not much F1, F2, sports car or touring car testing took place in the mid-1960s but Indianapolis was a different story. Jim loved the concept of an uninterrupted development programme in which every detail could be maximised. He could in theory have qualified and raced at Monaco on May 28-29-30 but the decision was made for him by the FIA, who in 1965 instigated a new rule preventing drivers competing in two different international events within 24 hours. Of course, the “grey” area was the definition of “24 Hours”: should this be read literally, or could different time zones be taken into account? Team Lotus took the decision to focus totally on Indy. Jim could still win the F1 Championship, Monaco GP or not. Images: http://www.brianwatsonphoto.co.uk and The Henry Ford
Indianapolis 500, May 31 We look back at Indy with special,associated posts on this website. Suffice to say here that this represented – for the 1965 season – Race Win No 20
Player’s 200, Mosport, June 5 And so the whirlwind continued – albeit without the usual switches in time zone. From Indy to the World’s Fair; from the World’s Fair to Wabash, Indiana, where, in company with Mario Andretti, Indy’s Rookie of the Year, Jim selected a conservative line of clothing from Dick Miller, of “Dick’s Menswear”(right). From Indiana, Jim continued his passage in the Ford company plane on to Toronto – to Mosport – to a totally different world. There were no appearances on the Tonite show in the days following his famous win; the “ballyhoo” of Indy (as he liked to call it), was quickly replaced by the relative calm of the Canadian prairies. Team Lotus had flown the Mk 2 Lotus 30-Ford out to Toronto for the two-part sports car race and Jim was hoping that, for once, he would have a decent weekend on the fast, undulating circuit.
This 1965 edition of the Player’s race also had a typically interesting entry list: Jim Hall, fresh from a win at Bridgehampton, was there with the Chaparral (running the racing world’s first attempt at telemetry); John Surtees entered his gorgeous Team Surtees Lola T70; Bruce McLaren was running his red McLaren-Elva; and Hugh Dibley and Rob Slotemaker were other familiar faces from home (with Lola T70 and Porsche 914 respectively). Jim lost no time in telling Hugh (who was an active BOAC Captain) that he had ordered a Piper Comanche and that it was going to be flown to the UK the following week by Piper’s own pilots. Hugh immediately suggested that he and Jim should fly it instead – a plan to which Jim instantly agreed. Over the course of the weekend, however, Hugh received news that he was required to stand-in for a BOAC pilot on another routing in the USA; the Piper plan was cancelled and the two “factory” pilots re-instated for the trip across the Atlantic.
Very sadly, the aircraft never made it. Both pilots were killed in a still-unexplained accident.
Jim’s Mosport weekend was no more satisfying than his race there in 1963 with the hastily-prepared “Honest Ed” Lotus 23. The 30 was a handful around the Mosport sweepers – and was troublesome, too: after qualifying fourth, only slightly quicker than Jerry Grant’s Lotus 19, it was with some relief that Jim retired from the first heat with a broken drive-shaft (and thus did not start heat two). Jim wore only a lap seat belt in the 30 (as distinct from the lap/shoulder harness of the Indy car and no belts at all in the F1/F2 single-seaters) so again we must be amazed by how different the various cars must have felt to him, from circuit to circuit, day to day. One minute – at Indy – he was belted in tightly; the next, around Mosport in a car as difficult as a Lotus 30, he had only lap-belt support.
Thus Indy already seemed an age away. Immediately after the Mosport race (during practice for which Walt Hansgen had crashed heavily when he ran into a telegraph pole and Hugh, while running second in Heat Two, had escaped with facial cuts after shunting his Lola), Jim flew by helicopter (with race winner, John Surtees) to Toronto and then on to England. It was late Saturday night; on Monday – WhitMonday Holiday in the UK, with the time change against them – Jim would be racing a Ron Harris Team Lotus 35 in the F2 International at Crystal Palace and the factory Lotus Cortina in the touring car support event. Sleep, in that 707, was much in demand.
Crystal Palace, London, June 7 It’s difficult, now, even to contemplate it – but happen it did. Nearly 50,000 spectators could vouch for it.
This was the line-up for the London Trophy at Crystal Palace: Jim Clark, fresh from his Indy win, in the Ron Harris Lotus 35. Graham Hill, with that classic Monaco win still in afterglow, in the John Coombs Brabham. Jochen Rindt. Jack Brabham. John Surtees. Denny Hulme. Jackie Stewart. Chris Amon. Peter Revson. Richard Attwood. All in F2 cars on Whitmonday Holiday, with the support races featuring Jim in the Lotus Cortina, Brabham in a Mustang, Hulme in Sid Taylor’s Brabham BT8 sports car and even Jack Oliver in his Lotus Elan. It was – by any standards – one of the best national race meetings ever held in the United Kingdom.
The Crystal Palace circuit, only 20min drive from central London, was short and lined by both sleepers and trees. The corners were in the main medium-speed to fast: like Catalina Park in Australia – and to some extent like Indy – the lap was all about momentum. Momentum and balance.
Jim was of course jet-lagged from his trip to North America but still dapper in suit and tie as he emerged from his 707 at Heathrow.
The press were there to greet him – and many were the functions and awards hastily-arranged in his honour. Click on this British Pathe link to see Jim, Colin and Sally Stokes at a typical post-Indy London function. Not a lover of long speeches, Jim responded with a short but sincere “thank you”. (Note his 1965 tie-clip: he wore the same one at most formal functions.)
The Mosport race with the Lotus 30 was already a distant memory. It had followed so closely after the Indy win that the whole of the month of May had become a blur. The upside, of course, was that he hadn’t been obliged to start Part Two of the Player’s 200…
For all the hoopla, Jim still had a couple of motor races to win – and ultra-competitive they were too, particularly as his Lotus couldn’t quite match the Brabhams in terms of handling. Jim would stay at Balfour Place for a few days (prior to a quick trip to Scotland) and on Monday morning, still bleary-eyed, drove to the track with Sally in the white Radford Elan. Underlining the superiority of the Brabham-Tauranac chassis in the hands of a driver like Graham Hill, Jim, wearing a “pacamac” waterproof over his blue Dunlop overalls, qualified P2, nearly half a second slower than Graham; Jackie Stewart would start an excellent third in the Tyrrell Cooper-BMC, ahead of the very under-rated Mike Beckwith, Jim’s Normand Racing team-mate from 1963. Andrew Ferguson recalls in his autobiography an incident during touring car practice when Jim uncharacteristically lost his cool after being held up by the Ford Galaxie driver, Alan Hutcheson. Although this incident is probably in retrospect best summed-up as “jet lag”, it’s also a reminder of the sort of schedule Jim was keeping in 1965: due to the Mosport race, Jim was obliged to practice, qualify and race on the same day at Crystal. I guess, too, it’s also an indication of how seriously Jim Clark took every race he drove, be it the Indy 500 or the over-1,300cc Touring Car race for the Norbury Trophy at Crystal Palace. Jim had taken the trouble to ask Hutcheson in the assembly area to give him room during the 20min qualifying session but the big Galaxy driver had steadfastly shut the gate at every corner. Jim was exceedingly irritated. Nontheless, he still qualified the Bob Dance/Bob Sparshott-prepared Cortina second-fastest overall for the touring car race – and Jim would have smiled grimly as Hutcheson spun his Galaxy on the opening lap. He crowded Roy Pierpoint’s Mustang early on but then conceded to the big Ford’s V8 power. Jim thereafter easily won his class from team-mate Jack Sears and Frank Gardner in the Willment Lotus Cortina. Again, Jim’s antics in the Cortina would weave their way into motor racing folklore. Three-wheeling was just the start of it…
Above: Jim, inside front Cortina Dunlp just off the road, harries Roy Pierpoint’s Mustang into the Crystal sweepers; top: the start of Heat One, with Jackie Stewart (left) drag-racing Jim into the first corner. Nearly 50,000 spectators crammed into Crystal Palace on Whitmonday to watch a stellar line-up of drivers in a wide variety of dramatic machinery
The little Lotus 35 F2 car, with its central exhaust, wasn’t the easiest of cars to drive, as I say, but Jim fought every inch of the two-heat way for the London Trophy. Jackie Stewart matched Jim as they ran through the gears but Jim braked ultra-late into the first corner to slice ahead of his friend. Jackie pushed him hard but quickly came under pressure from Brabham and then Hill, who had lagged at the start. This enabled Jim to focus on pulling away a little – an easily-written phrase that in reality meant putting in a string of near-faultless laps in a car that was prone to flick-oversteer. By the time Hill had fought his way up to second place, Jim was ahead by the margin he needed to win. It had been flat-out all the way.
A serious-looking Jim, in familiar fawn cardigan, ponders the Lotus 35 F2 car.
Heat Two of the F2 race was just as frenetic, with Graham pushing Jim all the way. Jim left no openings but it was obvious that Graham, had he been running in free air, would have been slightly quicker. As a result, Richard Attwood (MRP Lola) and Jochen Rindt swarmed around the back of the white Coombs Brabham, obliging Graham to watch both his mirrors and the progress of the little Lotus ahead of him. Again, this gave Jim a slight opening – providing he could drive the perfect laps.
He did. He crossed the line 1.4 sec ahead of Graham for an 11-sec victory overall. Richard Attwood was a brilliant third ahead of Jochen Rindt, Alan Rees and Mike Beckwith.
Jim’s return to the UK had been triumphant in every sense of the word – but little was the time to celebrate. Just six days away lay the dreaded Belgian Grand Prix at Spa . Race wins No 21 and 22
Belgian and European GP, Spa-Francochamps, June 13 Jim returned to Edington Mains after winning at Crystal Palace, catching up with farming business and also meeting for the first time Ian Scott-Watson’s new red Elan S3 (recently built up from a kit by Jock McBain’s garage). Many were the well-wishers and requests for interviews. Jim obliged them all, within reason, before returning to London in order to fly with Colin to Spa on Friday morning. Upon arrival at the local airfield the news was grim: heavy rain and thunderstorms were predicted for Sunday.
Jim hated Spa. Archie Scott-Brown, Alan Stacey and Chris Bristow had all died there in races in which he was competing; and, like most drivers, he was nervous about the sheer pace of the place amongst the unprotected trees, telegraph poles, sheer drops and earth banks. On top of that came the changeable local weather.
Even so, Spa had been good to him. He won his first Grand Prix there in 1962. In teeming rain, and with a tetchy gearbox, he had also won in 1963. And in 1964, against all odds, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren had all ran out of fuel in the closing stages to give him the win. He and Dan had sat by their cars at Stavelot, not far from the Val d’Ambleve, his regular hotel, when the PA announcement had declared the unexpected. He therefore arrived this year with the usual, bittersweet feelings: on the one hand he was struck by the natural tranquility of the Ardennes forest. By the dairy cattle grazing nearby. By the simplicity of village life. On the other – ever-present – stood the savage dangers of Spa.
Jim was obviously hopeful of a good result. He hadn’t driven the F1 car since Goodwood on April 19 but he was running the new Climax four-valve head and had a range of rim widths and offsets to try in concert with the new, wider Dunlops.
Practice, though, was inconclusive. A cracked oil cooler kept him in the pits on Friday and the new hub and rim tests on Saturday limited him to only two flying laps. Even so, he qualified in the middle of the front row, sandwiched between the very fast BRMs of Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.
Jim teases the Lotus 33 down towards Burnenville during Saturday practice.
The rain fell throughout Sunday – very lightly at first but then torrentially as the afternoon wore on. The puddles were obvious but there was never any question of not racing. There was a crowd to please, a show to produce.
And some interesting logic, too: “I’ve never minded driving on wet surfaces,” wrote Bruce McLaren in his Autosport column a week after the race. “After all, 1.5 litres with a lowered coefficient of friction in the wet is just a little more like 5.0 litre sports cars or 7.0 litre GT cars in the dry….” He did allow, though, that “puddles on the straights are another thing altogether”.
Graham, wearing the neck brace he’d been using off and on since his Snetterton shunt in ’64, took the initial lead in the spare BRM. Jim followed him into Eau Rouge, up into Les Combes and then down the fast section at Burnenville. The spray was prodigious. As they approached the Masta kink, now flat in top gear with the cars flicking from puddle to puddle, Jim with perfect timing flicked left and seized the inside into the first part – the left-hander. Graham, shocked, backed out of it. Jim was in front – and on that clear road he focused again on developing a lead.
He finished the opening lap with a three second lead.
Jim continued to build on that. He wore his regular goggles. He was racing, as ever, without seat belts. And, if you wanted an interesting number associated with one of Jim Clark’s greatest drives, his Lotus was carrying number 17; it would be the only time in his Grand Prix career that it would do so. He was 12 seconds ahead of Hill by lap three – and so it went on, with Stewart taking over BRM responsibilities as Hill began to run into trouble on lap four. Occasionally Jackie would match Jim’s lap times; on other laps, when the BRM aquaplaned, he would lose five seconds or so. By two-thirds distance the gap had ballooned to 80 seconds.
Then, with six long laps still to run, the rain fell heavier still. Jim eased back. On lap 28, with four to go, he was some 14 sec slower than Jackie. On lap 29 he was 36 sec slower.Somehow, though, Jackie sensed that Jim was sending him a message: slow down my young friend. You won’t catch me. Take no more risks.
And so Jackie did. He made it a Scots one-two at Spa.
Jim did not mention his apparent mentoring. “I never talked to Jim about it,” said Jackie later, “because Jim never confided the details of his driving at that sort of level. It was just something that I knew we wouldn’t discuss. I could sense it, though. Jim was looking out for me that day….”
For his part, Jim merely explained that the back-markers had slowed him even more when the rain fell harder. “If I couldn’t get them on the downhill pit straight than I was stuck behind them for half a lap or more,” he said afterwards.
(At this point, you might like to click the following link to see how Movietone News covered the race a few days later. There’s a very brief race summary followed by an…interesting…Klippan man wearing the innovative seat belt as he attempts to write off a couple of cars. Bearing in mind that none of the drivers racing at Spa in the wet were wearing belts, the Klippan piece is in some ways prophetic.)
(My thanks to that ace archivist, Richard Wiseman, and of course to the brilliant AP Archives, through which I would be happy to trawl for the next decade or so...)
Bruce McLaren finished third in a Cooper now fitted with long-range fuel tanks (not that they were needed in the wet!) but Richard Attwood, who had driven so well at Crystal, was very lucky to escape a massive accident on the approach to Stavelot when his Parnell Lotus-BRM aquaplaned into a telegraph pole and caught fire; miraculously, Richard was saved by a brave spectator who hauled him from the wreck. (Although the detail was different, and drew also on Dan Gurney’s accident in the 1960 Dutch GP, when a spectator was killed, Attwood’s shunt helped John Frankenheimer with his script for the upcoming 1966 filming of Grand Prix.) The car written off by Attwood (Lotus 25/R4) was Jim’s prolific winner from 1963 – the one driven by Jim, for example, in the Esso on-board lap of Oulton Park featured elsewhere on these pages.
So Jim Clark won his fourth Belgian GP. “It is a strange travesty of fate,” he later wrote in his autobiography, “that I don’t really like fast circuits as much as ‘tricky’ ones. I’ve never won at Monaco, a circuit I love, but I’ve now won four times at Spa, a circuit I hate. This is motor racing. Were the results predictable there would be no racing, and, though at times I don’t understand the fate which governs it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Spa in those days had a podium of sorts – a terrace above the pits. Jim, fawn cardigan buttoned over his Dunlops, was delighted to share the flowers (no garlands at Spa) for the first time with his fellow Scot. “At least I have a ‘Mc’ in my name, so I didn’t feel completely out of the Highland Fling,” quipped third-placed Bruce McLaren afterwards. Win No 23. Images: with grateful thanks to LAT Photographic and the AP Archives
Clermont-Ferrand, June 27, 1965. French GP (Grand Prix de l’ACF) After Spa, Jim was finally able to spend a week in Scotland. The changes were dramatic. On the back of Jim’s Indy win – and of his most recent success in the F1 car – the Border regions seemed to have gone motor sport-centric. And with Roger Clark – no relation! – also winning the Scottish Rally over the same weekend as Spa, the two Clarks were in much demand. Jim allowed TV cameras on the farm; entertained the famous Indy commentator, Tom Carnegie, together with his American film cameras and cameramen; added a postscript with Graham Gauld to Jim Clark at the Wheel; and welcomed Colin up in the Borders, reminding him, as he always did, to look for the “red roofs” on the farm barns when lining up the grass runway near Edington. There was also an approach from Hollywood: with John Frankheimer well advanced with pre-production for MGM’s upcoming movie, Grand Prix, starring James Garner, Jim was approached by Warner Bros and Brookdale Films about lending his name to a rival F1 film starring Steve McQueen. Day of The Champion was to shot primarily at the 1966 German GP and possibly after that at Oulton Park. Jim agreed to the proposal.
Racing-wise, there were other details to finalise. There was talk about running the Indy Lotus at Rheims, ostensibly as a demonstration but also in an attempt to break the lap record there; thankfully that fell through due to a lack of starting money. Then came an idea to run the 38 at Silverstone, before the British GP. Jim quite liked this idea but again it came to nought: Ford, the new legal owners of the car, decided it would be of more use at the New York World’s Fair. Eventually Chapman signed a relatively lucrative deal to run a 38 in two Swiss hill-climbs at the end of August. Jim liked the sound of that. He’d last competed up a hill at Rest-and-be-Thankful back in 1958.
Too soon, it was back down the A1 – to London in the Lotus Cortina – first to Cheshunt, to go through the accounts with Andrew (now more complicated than ever due to the Indy win), and then to nearby Panshangar Airport to fly with Colin, Sally and Mike Spence to Clermont Ferrand. The glorious mountain circuit – home of Michelin – had never before staged the French GP. Now it was to play its role in F1 history as the “mini-Nuburgring”.
Upon arrival at the low-key Clermont airport, Jim and Colin were drawn to a crowd outside in the car park. Cameraman and newspaper journalists were in abundance, all focused on one man.
And, for once, it was not Jim Clark.
“That’s Yuri Gagarin!” said Colin, fascinated. “Come on. Let’s go and say hello…”
The Russian cosmonaut, at that stage on a USSR-sponsored world tour in honour of his 1961 orbit of the earth and other exploits, quickly appreciated the stature of Clark and Chapman. He invited them, indeed, to a reception being held that night in Clermont’s civic centre. Colin and Jim looked at one another, worked out that they could easily drive to their hotel in Charade later than night, and agreed to attend.
The evening sparkled. Jim and Yuri spoke through interpreters and quickly formed a bond: Jim was as fascinated by the space programme as Yuri was by the Lotus racing cars.
Then, later, the group of four set off in their rented Peugeot for the race hotel. Colin drove, with Sally him and Mike and Jim in the back.
Suddenly, in the middle of a slow, innocuous corner, the Peugeot swerved and lurched down a bank. “Is everyone all right?” gasped Colin as the car came to rest, windscreen shattered. “I think I’ve strained my thumb…”
Jim, uncoiling himself in the middle of the front seat, where he’d landed, replied in the affirmative. As did Mike, who had squashed up against the back of Colin’s seat.
“I’m ok but I think I’ve cut my head or something,” she said, looking at the blood on her blouse and hands.
Jim looked across and began swaying from side to side. Then he fainted at the sight of the blood.
Eventually the Peugeot was pushed back onto the French road. The hotel was found; Sally was treated by a doctor in the dead of night; and Colin promised the medic a pit pass for the weekend in return for keeping the incident away from the media.
Despite a few light-hearted jibes from Jim about his suit being ruined, Sally recovered well enough to perform regular timing duties in the pits at Clermont. Colin’s thumb, however, remained a race weekend talking-point…
Jim showed no signs of the incident when practice began on Friday. Of far more import was the failure of his 32-valve Climax engine out on the circuit: Jim hitched a ride back to the pits, straddling the engine cover of John Surtees’ V8 Ferrari. As a result, Chapman decided to concentrate on the 1962-built R6 two-valve chassis (still in Lotus 25 form) rather than the 1964-built Lotus 33B R11.
Jim qualified the old car on the pole, his 3min 18.3sec lap shading Jackie Stewart’s best for BRM by a mere half-second. Ferrari qualified three and four, with Lorenzo Bandini again controversially racing the faster flat-12 car and leaving the V8 for Surtees; and Denny Hulme, who had subbed for Dan Gurney in the International Trophy and at Monaco, celebrated his second Championship GP start by qualifying an excellent sixth for Brabham (and quickest on Friday). His compatriot, Chris Amon, would dominate (until a puncture intervened) the 1972 French GP at Clermont with the Matra V12, but gave clear indication seven years earlier of what was to come by qualifying a brilliant eighth in the evergreen Reg Parnell Lotus 25-BRM.
As he had done on several occasions since 1964, Jim wore a white handkerchief over his face for this race: stones and rubble lay trackside. The Dunlops and Goodyears of the time were stiff enough and strong enough not to be hugely puncture-prone but there was a real risk of being injured by the local flint. Best place to be, of course, was out in front….
A brass band and a shower of Michelin balloons lit up the grid as heavy clouds assembled on the horizon. Morning rain gave everyone déjà-vu but then out came the sun over the Auvergne as the 2:00pm start time appraoched. Jim anticipated the Toto Roche twitch but Lorenzo nearly lost the Ferrari as he floored the flat-12 in first. With clear air behind him, Jim Clark thus set off for the first of 40, daunting Clermont laps – a potential race time, in the dry, of some 2hrs 10min.
Jim’s lead over Lorenzo at the end of his opening lap was 3.5 sec; by lap two, with Jackie now in second place, he was ahead by six seconds. And so it went on. Perfect poetry in motion. Twin high-level chrome exhausts (rather than the 33B’s low, wide-spaced exhausts) distinguished Jim’s car on this occasion; otherwise, it was 1965 at its Jim Clark best: by half-distance, with Jackie still second, Jim was leading by 14 sec; by the end, heading another one-two for the Scots, Jim’s winning margin was nearly half a minute. John Surtees finished third after a quick pit stop (and after Lorenzo shunted in the closing laps!), and the brilliant Hulme was fourth after dropping as low as 14th on lap one. Overall, though, it was another consummate Clark performance. Pole position. Led from start to finish. Fastest lap.
And with not the hint of a whisper about what had transpired on the Thursday…Win No24; images: LAT Archives
Here is a short video from the race, courtesy of British Pathe. Apologies for the way it has obviously been speeded-up. That’s also Jochen Rindt shunting the works Cooper-Climax (not Lorenzo in the Ferrari); and you can see Chris Amon briefly in the Parnell Lotus 25 after being lapped by Jackie Stewart’s BRM. Much of the footage was shot in or around the pit area (the top of the circuit); down the hill after start the corners are really fast and sweeping. One of the all-time classic tracks, in my view – and still very much unchanged today
July 3, 1965. Reims GP (F2) As tempting as it was to remain in France for a short break, Jim stuck to plan and returned to England with Colin after the French GP. Next on the schedule: the second French F2 race of the year, this time in the champagne region of Reims. Jim had raced regularly at the ultra-fast and dangerous triangle-in-the-fields circuit since 1960 – and in 1963, with his engine down-on-power, had scored that momentous victory in the French GP.
This year’s race was very different, however. For one thing, the 37-lap F2 event was but a support race for the big Reims 12 Hour sports car race (that would be won by the Ferrari 365P2 of Pedro Rodriguez and Jean Guichet). In other words, drivers like Clark, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart were in France merely to perform minor roles…
It’s also important to put races like this into context. Jim had by this stage of the year won three F1 championship races plus the Indy 500; and the following week he would be the star attraction at Silverstone for the British GP. Yet here he was, taking a relatively minor role in a 1-litre F2 car on a circuit comprising largely of straight lines. There was no question of not racing at Reims – any more than there was of not racing at Mosport four days after Indy. It was just what Jim Clark did. He raced for Team Lotus. Seen with today’s perspective, however, the scope of Jim’s race programme was extraordinary.
Jim raced his usual Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth, qualifying third (without the aid of a tow from team-mate Mike Spence). The race immediately exploded into a six-car slipstreamer, with Jim endlessly swapping places with Rindt, Brabham, Alan Rees, Frank Gardner and Stewart. A couple of times Jim managed to out-brake the pack, and also to find quicker exits from the slow corners, but the Winkelmann Brabham teamwork (Rindt-Rees) ultimately proved unbeatable. Jochen eventually won from the ebullient Gardner (Lola-BRM) with Jim in third place.
Shock? Horror? Jim Clark finishes only third? Not a bit of it. Jim was never afraid of being beaten. It was the competition that intrigued him – that and the cars themselves. Getting the best from the cars. Driving them on the limit. He knew that his Lotus wasn’t quite as quick through the air as the Brabhams or even the Lola; the critical thing was that he gave the F2 race everything he had; that was what mattered.
(The Reims F3 race, incidentally, was won by a new French coming man – a certain Jean-Pierre Beltoise, from Piers Courage and the very quick John Fenning.)
July 10, 1965. RAC British GP, Silverstone Jim Clark strolled onto the grid for the British GP wearing his fawn Sally Swart cardigan over his blue Dunlop overalls. As with all the drivers on all the cars that day, his name was big on the side of the car: “Clark”. In the red-upholstered seat of the 33B (now R11 again, with the four-valve Climax) sat his dark blue Bell Magnum with its crisp, white peak. For this race he chose tan kangaroo skin “Jim Clark” driving gloves (from a range that also included red and black). No-one in the Silverstone crowd denied they were about to see an absolute master again at work. It wouldn’t matter if the race was another Jim Clark walkover: that was as it should be. The home crowd accepted Clark for what he was – a quiet genius who was also a sheep farmer from the Borders. There were no complaints back then about the “lack of overtaking” or the “one or two place-changes” that would invariably characterise the race; in 1965, when the Beatles had yet to grow their hair long and Mini Coopers were genuinely mini – like the Mary Quant skirts – and the girls wore headscarves when they rode in open-topped MG Midgets, life was there to be touched, not consumed in ever-larger spoonfuls.
Jim qualified on the pole but only 0.2sec away from Graham Hill’s BRM. Richie Ginther was third in the much-improved Honda, fractionally quicker than Jackie Stewart in the other BRM. Richie was quickly away from the line in a nice demonstration of Honda power but Jim was soon in front.
And for much of the distance the race indeed belonged to Clark and the Team Lotus 33B. Graham Hill, in the BRM – absolutely a part of the BRM, with his graceful opposite-lock slides and his London Rowing Club Everoak helmet looking as though they were the two key fixtures around which Tony Rudd had designed the car – pushed Jim hardest; by three-quarter distance, however, the race seemed clearly to be another one for Clark. By lap 64, with 16 to run, Hill, in brake trouble, was some 35 seconds away in second place.
Then Jim’s Climax V8 began to lose oil pressure – first at Stowe, momentarily, and then at Club and Woodcote. On the straights the needle would flicker back to centre. With every passing lap, the plunges grew worse; a blow-up – a rare blow-up in this final year for Coventry Climax in Formula One – seemed inevitable. What to do? What to do?
Jim had no help from the pit wall other than the usual updates about the diminishing gap. With no radio communication, Colin Chapman was oblivious to the problem. They could hear reports of what seemed to be a mis-fire but on the pit straight the Climax engine sounded strong. Jim needed to think it out for himself – think it out with all his brainpower and with the experience of his days as a part-time mechanic in the Jock McBain garage, and the time spent in many a track- and roadside moment, mending broken cars. Even in 1965 Jim could often be seen helping with wheel changes or plug checks or obscure mis-fire diagnoses at major races throughout the world.
And so he decided on a cure: he decided to kill the engine through all the fast corners, thus minimising the piston or main bearing damage when the surge was at its greatest and the lubricant at its thinnest.
He would think it through and then he would do it: he would approach Stowe in top, brake and change down to fourth – and then find neutral at probably 130 mph before switching off the engine. He would have no throttle to help him balance a slide; he would not be able to apply any power until the 33B was straight. Instead, Jim realized that he was going to have to attempt an even earlier-than-normal approach to the corner – an approach based around exactly the right moment and speed at which to rotate the car; and then, when it was more or less straight, he was going to have to declutch it back to life. All this without losing the race to a fast-approaching Graham Hill. Prior to the problem, Jim had been lapping comfortably in the mid-1min 33s/34s. Now, in switch-off mode, his lap times were up in the 1min 35/36s.
Stowe, Club, Woodcote…Jim focussed his de-clutching remedy on these three (long, fast) corners. At Copse and at Becketts he kept the engine running but again tried extending the straights as much as possible. Sometimes he fought oversteer (left); other is was understeer (below). Only the year before, when he had been giving Colin Chapman a ride around Silverstone in a Cortina-Lotus, had his boss been surprised by what he perceived to be Jim’s “very early” approach to the corners. Jim had replied that this was the way he always drove, regardless of whether he was in the F1 car, the Lotus 30, the Cortina or the F2 Lotus 35.
Now, in these excruciatingly long and dramatic closing minutes, he was turning in to all the corners even earlier. He could hear the Dunlop tyres scrubbing off speed in the bland silence of the cut engine, mid-Stowe – but only in the distance, as if he was vaguely aware of aircraft flying overhead. His mind, his concentration, was a tunnel. Feel the moment. Apply the steering lock…now…engage third…de-clutch…now.
Those pit signals narrated a story he didn’t want to read. Once before – at the ’62 International Trophy – Graham had passed him on the line at Silverstone. Literally on the line. (Bruce McLaren had also pipped him the same way in a Mini race – but that was another story.) Today it was different. Today it was Jim Clark versus the failing engine. It was the Lotus 33B, with all its grip and balance and driveability, suddenly racing within itself. And he was the man in the middle.
Three laps to go. Two. He had consistently managed to keep his lap times about two and a half seconds adrift of par. Once or twice the engine had sputtered before screaming back to life. He could see Graham in his mirrors as he reached top gear on Hangar Straight. Concentrate. One more time around Stowe. Once more around Club. The crowd, in his peripheral vision, was a waving sea of arms. Graham was with him now, catching him assuredly. Jim re-lit the Climax one more time. Third. Fourth. Abbey Curve. Fifth. Down to Woodcote. Fourth. Extend the straight. Delay the lateral load. Power on.
Chequered Flag. Last lap: 1min 36.8sec. Enough to win by 3.2 sec – a whole half-a-second more than the Clark-Hill margin in the 1964 British GP!
Afterwards, in the style of the day, the newspapers would report that “Jim Clark was forced to nurse his engine in the closing laps due to a mechancial problem”, with emphasis on Graham’s fighting finish. Nothing more. Easy reading. Something about which to talk – a little. No-one suggested – as is clear now – that not a single other driver in the history of our sport, with the possible exception of Stirling Moss – could have won that race, that day, in the way that Jim Clark won at Silverstone.
Afterwards, the 33B was pushed up onto a flat-top. Everyone clambered aboard – Colin, with his children, Sarah, Jane and Clive; Mike Spence, who had pushed John Surtees hard on the way to finishing an excellent fourth; all the mechanics; and Sally, of course. A Lotus Elan split the crowds ahead. The tractor chugged forwards. Jim, remarkably fresh, shivered in the late Saturday
air, looking for the cardigan that wasn’t there. Instantly, Jim Endruweit removed the (fawn) pullover he’d been wearing on the pit wall throughout the race. It was a perfect fit. Win No 25 (fittingly!)
July 11, 1965. Rouen Grand Prix (F2) Incredibly, Jim had little or no time to enjoy the Silverstone win. He was due to race the following day (Sunday) at Rouen in another F2 event, again in the Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth. Jim had always been very quick at the fast, demanding, sweeping, uphill-downhill Rouen circuit but to date had never won there: he had led both the 1962 and 1964 French GPs at Rouen before having to retire. Now he was returning with a nimble F2 car against the usual, formidable, opposition. Rouen was nothing less than a complete drivers’ circuit and Jim, his Silverstone victory still ringing in his ears, was as hungry as ever.
The logistics, with the passing of time, seem incredible: Jim (together with the other F1 drivers) practised at Rouen on the Wednesday before flying that night to Silverstone. They all then returned to Rouen a few hours after the British GP to be practising again at Rouen on Sunday morning for a race that afternoon. In the midst of all that, Jim’s Cosworth engine was flown from Rouen to Northampton on Wednesday night, completely rebuilt, and sent back to France on Saturday night…
Jim qualified on the pole but it was Jochen Rindt who led into the first, fast, downhill right-hander. Jim slipped past on the ultra-quick uphill section after the famous Nouveau Monde hairpin – then it was Rindt again, slipstreaming back into the lead before the final hairpin.
Again it was Clark versus the Winkelmann team, for Alan Rees was quickly up there too. The two Brabhams burst past the pits – then Jim drew gasps from the crowd as he darted out of the tow and dived for the inside for the flat-out right-hander. And so it went on – with Jack Brabham and Graham Hill joining the fight. The racing was spellbinding. It was slipstreaming…but on very fast, sweeping corners…
Jim’s concentration, given recent events, was astounding. Inch by inch, braking area by exit, his monotonous perfection began to give him some space. Jochen and Graham became enmeshed in a battle; Rees retired with a broken drive-shaft.
Suddenly Jim found himself on top. It was one of the best bits of driving he’d produced all year.
And yet…and yet…
In an eerie re-run of Silverstone, his Cosworth engine suddenly lost its edge with but two laps of the race to go. Graham Hill, in John Coombs’ Brabham-BRM, was catching him quickly. Colin Chapman jumped from the pit wall in disbelief. In the cockpit, Jim again nursed the engine, winding down the revs and saving it on downshifts. More than ever, he focused on massaging the dynamic weights, eliminating the lumps.
And he did it. He crossed the line to win a relatively minor F2 race in about the time it takes to win a Grand Prix today – 1hr 48min. In this amazing of seasons, it was win No 26. Images: LAT Photographic
Thanks to my colleague, Richard Wiseman, we can see a little of the action from Rouen in this AP Archive newsreel. There’s no sound but there are some nice shots of Jim, Graham Hill and the Winkelmann Brabhams. It’s a huge field, too, that rushes down to the first corner. Note, at the end, Jim asking Graham Hill to join him on the podium. A nice touch in the days when three-driver podia were rare. http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/view/bcffc7a67072bdb29e559f55e7e19ca4?subClipIn=00:00:00&subClipOut=00:01:56