Unfamiliar in peakless helmet in the early testing days at Indy, Jim quickly established the race-winning potential of the Lotus 38. As intense as the programme quickly became, there was also a feeling of isolation in the vast Speedway and within the town of Indy itself. Jim’s season until that point had been a blur of different cars, circuits, airports, aircraft, hotels and restaurants. Now he was at The Speedway and the rest of his European racing friends were preparing first for the non-championship F1 race at Silverstone and then for Monaco. Everyone, that is, except the driver closest to Jim’s heart – Dan Gurney. Dan had initially run as Jim’s Indy team-mate but was now managing his own, Yamaha-sponsored Lotus 38 on Goodyears as a precursor to his AAR F1 programme in 1966. Both drivers were going to miss the International Trophy at Silverstone (where Pedro Rodriguez would deputise for Jim, finishing fourth behind team-mate Mike Spence) and the Monaco GP; both had so much in common – including, while Jim tested them, Goodyear tyres (below and below right). The Goodyears proved to be a little quicker than the Firestones but, as Jim Smith remembers in the adjoining video, Team Lotus eventually opted for Firestones after the Goodyears began to show signs of chunking. Tyres were always a concern for Jim Clark (using a new white peak from the second week onwards), particularly after the problems with the Dunlops at Indy in 1964
Also at the back of everyone’s minds was the loss of Bobby Marshman, the ultra-quick US-based Lotus development driver (left) who had crashed heavily when the throttle stuck open while engine testing at Phoenix late in 1964; he had subsequently succumbed to his second- and third-degree burns
And so the month swept on. Colin Chapman couldn’t resist a bit of aircraft-spotting;
Jim often sat it out on the track; the boys took impromptu naps after the frequent all-nighters; and, while the inevitable joke-signs appeared on garage windows in Gasoline Alley, Jim worked hard, thinking of every possible angle.
Jim also befriended a young Italian-American named Mario Andretti (below). Mario was in his rookie year but was already highly-rated by such drivers as Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones and AJ Foyt.
Images: The Henry Ford, The Peter Windsor Collection