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Archive for the category “Jim Clark’s 1963 season”

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Hill (Ian Walker Lotus 23B-Ford)

Jim Hall (Chaparral-Chevrolet)

AJ Foyt (Scarab-Chevrolet)

Dave MacDonald (King Cobra-Ford)

Bob Holbert (King Cobra-Ford)

Dan Gurney (Genie-Ford)

Roger Penske (Zerex-Ford)

Pedro Rodgriguez (Genie-Ford)

John Surtees (Ferrari)

Richie Ginther (Porsche RS)

Bill Krause (Elva-Ford)

Roy Salvadori (Cooper Monaco-Climax)

Bob Bondurant (Cobra-Ford)

Augie Pabst (Lotus 19-Climax)

Lloyd Ruby (Harrison-Ford)

Jerry Grant (Lotus 19-Buick)

Timmy Mayer (Lotus 23B-Ford)

Frank Gardner (Brabham BT5-Ford)

Dick Thompson (Maserati)

Rodger Ward (Cooper Monaco-Buick)

Jerry Titus (Genie-Chevrolet)

Chuck Parsons (Lotus 23B-Ford)

Ken Miles (Dolphin-Porsche)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1963TimesGPatRiverside_0095

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…And now for a bit of fun

21676.tifJim flew from Newark straight back to the UK…even though the USGP was to be run at Watkins Glen on October 6.  Jim’s 707 probably passed in the night the BOAC Canadair CL44 heading in the opposite flight path with 19 F1 cars on board – the largest single F1 airlift yet seen.  As tempting as it might have been to spend a few days in the States – perhaps even to test one or two of the sports cars he was now scheduled to drive  there in a month or so – Jim stood by his obligations.  He was entered to drive the Normand Lotus 23B in the Autosport-sponsored Snetterton Three Hours and also to have his first race in the works Cortina-Lotus on the same day (Saturday, September 28).

In today’s parlance, that roughly amounts to Sebastian Vettel flying back to Germany after the US GP in Austin to race a Mini and then re-joining the F1 circuit in Abu Dhabi.  The thing is, Seb would cause a sensation if he did that.  Jim Clark?  Even though he had just won the World Championship, and was setting records all over the world in a variety of different cars, an astonishingly small number of spectators actually travelled to Snetterton to see him drive.  And it wasn’t only Jim who drove up the A11 this weekend 50 years ago:  Jack Brabham, a double World Champion, would drive the Alan Brown Galaxie;  Jim’s team-mate, Trevor Taylor, would race a Team Elite Lotus Elan and Sir John Whitmore the Stirling Moss re-bodied Elan;  Denny Hulme was there in the works Brabham FJ and both Mike Parkes and Jack Sears were out in Ferrari GTOs.  Today, we can only drool at the line-up;  at the time, it appears as though the British fans were disappointed that the Three Hours would be run as a day race rather than as the traditional day-nighter.  One can understand this to some extent – but to boycott a race for which Jim Clark had flown all the way back from Trenton?  Fifty years on, it defies belief.

On the plus side, of course, there were few traffic jams and race day was free and easy, with Autosport organizing sumptuous hospitality courtesy of Martini and Rossi.

And it’s nice to record that Jim’s travels – and jet lag – were entirely worth it:  he sliced past Jack’s GTO on the opening lap, lost out to the superior power of the Tommy Atkins Cooper Monaco driven by Roy Salvadori but then took over a commanding lead when the Cooper blew its engine.  Jim then won as he chose, drifting the beautiful little 23B through Coram and Riches with fingertip precision.  Jim had won this event in 1959 at the wheel of Ian Scott-Watson’s Border Reivers Lotus Elite and now he had returned as World Champion in one of the nicest racing cars yet built by Lotus.  He loved every minute of it.

There was more to come, too:  Jack Brabham won the Slip-Molyslip Trophy race for saloon cars but Jim finished second overall, and won his class, with the new Lotus-Cortina.  Supported by new transporters and tow cars, the Ford-backed Lotus-Cortina programme set new standards in every department, not the least of which was pace: Jim was approx three seconds quicker than the fastest Jaguars.  He also introduced to the public for the first time the concept of three-wheeled cornering:“I again drove a saloon car,” he wrote in Jim Clark at the Wheel, “this time a racing Lotus Cortina at Snetterton towards the end of the 1963 season.  This proved to be a real laugh.  I kept finding the inside front wheel lifting off the ground.  This set me thinking, so I started going closer and closer to the semi-circular rubber tyres which mark the inside of one of the bends.  Eventually I found that I could tricycle the corner with the front wheel well over the tyres on the inside.  When I had practiced the car at Oulton in the gold Cup meeting I had had another odd experience.  I found that if I went into Cascades hard enough, both inside wheels would come off the ground but this was a very hairy thing, and not to be recommended if you wanted to stay on the road in one piece.”1963 British Saloon Car Championship.

How did Jim remember weekends like Snetterton?  “I had a lot of fun on these occasions.  It was a great relief to find that I could still enjoy light-hearted dicing after the tremendous strain of the Grand Prix battles which had won me the Championship.”

imageFor the record, Jim not only won the Martini and Rossi Trophy for his victory in the Three Hours but also the Daily Mirror Cup for being the best-placed driver of a British car in the saloon car event and the Autosport trophy for winning his class in that championship during the season overall. With his engine losing power in the closing stages of the saloon car event, Jim did try to stage another dead-heat with his Team Lotus F1 team-mate, Trevor Taylor (who drove the other factory Lotus-Cortina) but the verdict went to Jim by a couple of feet (reported the excellent Mike Kettlewell in Autosport).  Denny Hulme duly won the FJ race from the talented David Hobbs (MRP Lola), Alan Rees and Timmy Mayer; and Sid Taylor, featured recently in The Racer’s Edge (interviewed by Alain de Cadenet, Episode 28) drove his Elite home to second in class in the Three Hours.  Jack Sears, who had driven Willment’s Galaxy and Lotus-Cortina (finishing behind Jim and Trevor at Snet) also clinched the British Touring Car Championship at this meeting.

Racing over, Jim had time for a day in Scotland before leaving again for the US.  For this race, Team Lotus would be entering a third car for the winner of the recent Canadian GP (for sports cars) – Pedro Rodriguez.

Captions, from top:  Surrounded by well-wishers, Jim sips a bottle of Perrier after his win in the Snetterton Autosport Three Hours with the Normand Lotus 23B. Neither of his team-mates – Mike Beckwith and Tony Hegbourne – finished the race but Jim enjoyed a trouble-free afternoon. Note the absence of seat belts. Amazing to think that Jim had only a few days before raced the Lotus 29-Ford at Trenton, fully strapped-in;  Jim’s first race with a Lotus-Cortina.  Sadly here, at Riches, there are no half-tyres over which to lift the inside front wheel, so Jim can only drift the car in his usual way. In the Cortina Jim did wear belts but there was no roll cage  Images: LAT Photographic 

“Where’s Clark…?”

THF110901_JimClark-DanGurney-Trenton200_09-22-1963Incredibly, amazingly, Jim Clark and Dan Gurney arrived at the venerable Trenton State Fairgrounds in New Jersey ready to qualify and to race.  They had slept for but a couple of hours at the nearby team motel;  Oulton Park already seemed an age away.  Both would drive their Indy and Milwaukee Lotus 29-Fords, although on this occasion the exhausts had been angled skywards in physical testimony to the sheer speed of the two rear-engined cars.  At both of the preceding races, the drivers of the higher, front-engined roadsters had complained about the fumes caused by the lower exhaust flows from the two little Lotus.  As it was by now clear that the older cars would inevitably be trailing the 29s, Colin Chapman (and designer Len Terry) agreed to re-angle the exhausts upwards.  The ungainly mod (which also, as it turned out, provided a performance boost!) would thereafter be a reminder of all that was achieved by Team Lotus in America in 1963.

For coverage of the Trenton 200 I can do no better than to hand over to that excellent American writer, John Hearst Jnr, and to (the sadly now defunct) Sports Car Digest:

“The two-lap qualifications proved to be almost as exciting as the race itself,” wrote Hearst. “Knowing voices said that AJ Foyt’s one-lap record of 106.635 mph could not be beaten, for conditions weren’t ‘right’.  Clouds polka-dotted the sky and outnumbered the sun.  The day was cold and brisk, and the long grass in the infield was beaten flat by a gusty wind.  The wind.  That would be the problem.

“And it was…for some.  Indy roasters and ‘spring cars’ made two laps apiece.  Each driver fought to stay in the blacker part of the grey asphalt ribbon: ‘the groove’.  Some were quick and skillfull while others worked with arms flailing and right foot stabbing in a furious exhibition of over/under oversteer.  A couple reached the point of no return as their mounts went into gut-wrenching, rubber-burning slides.

“Dan Gurney’ (whose engine now had the 48mm longitudinal Weber carburettors) “took his turn.  Dressed in plain overalls, with black helmet and leather face mask, first thoughts were, ‘He must have come to the wrong place!’ The little blue-and-white car sang its way around once, and then again.  Accelerating earlier, and backing-off earlier, Dan made it all look so easy as he averaged 109.024 mph.  AJ Foyt, 28 years old and twice USAC Champion, could manage no more than a shrug as his record fell.

“Minutes later, Jim Clark took his turn with a flourish, provided by promoter Sam Nunis.  A local bagpipe band huffed and wheezed at ‘Scotland, the Brave’ as Clark, in his green-and-yellow car, was pushed out before the cheering fans on the grandstand straight.  All work stopped.  Wrenches were laid aside and heads came out from beneath raised hoods.  Everyone knew what was going to happen.

“The crowd became silent.  The only sounds were the skirling pipes and the wind.  Then came the hum of the starter motor, followed by the high-pitched wail of the unmuffled, pushrod Ford V8.  The young Scot was given a shove to engage first, and he was away.

“The air held one sound:  a note that worked itself higher and higher up the scale.  The car seemed to float around the track others had made appear so bumpy.  Green flag, white flag and then the checker.  It was over, and everyone knew – but by how much?

“Clark had just lowered Gurney’s newly-set record by 0.332 mph when he turned the mile over in 33.02 seconds, and was over 3 mph faster than Foyt’s old record.

“A weak smile was all that was offered in return as one roadster owner turned to his driver and cracked, ‘How do you spell ‘For Sale’?’

“Finally, the 26 starters were assembled, started and pushed away on the first of four warm-up laps.  On the pole was Clark and next to him was Gurney.  Both stifled yawns, for both had spent the night flying the Atlantic.  Both had won races at Oulton Park the previous day and Gurney the previous weekend had won at Bridgehampton, where he had been the first to drive an American car, the Shelby Cobra, to victory in a World Manufacturers’ Championship race.

“The green flag was waved furiously and a roar shook the earth as 26 cars accelerated as one.  Yet the sound of the Lotus-Fords was unmistakable, for they were two trumpets in an orchestra of tubas.  Appearing comparatively relaxed, Clark and Gurney, nose to tail, pulled away from the 24 others.  At first only a second, then two, then five, soon to be seven, ten, twelve, and more.

“Meanwhile others were having their problems.  On lap six, Rodger Ward saw his USAC Championship hopes fizzle when a fuel line burst, covering him with the volatile stuff.  Next to quit was Jim Hurtubise, whose fuel-laden car was bottoming through the turns.  When the seat pan started to wear away, Jim started getting a little warm.  Then his gas tank ruptured and Jim wisely gave up.  Speechmaker Eddie Sachs retired, to be joined five laps later by Indy winner Parnelli Jones, whose magneto went sour.

“By now, Clark led Gurney and 12 seconds, who in turn led Foyt by 10 seconds.  Clark had lapped every car in the field except Foyt.  That was lap 49.  On lap 50 everyone looked at everyone else and finally someone said it:  ‘Where’s Clark?’

“The young Scot had pulled into the pits.  A glance at his oil pressure gauge brought him in, and an ever-growing puddle of black under his car kept him in.  Through for the day, the primrose-yellow-overalled driver” (the Hinchmans!) “climbed atop a nearby truck and joined Rodger Ward as a spectator.  Englishman Colin Chapman, builder of the Lotus-Fords, stood by as the crew removed the engine cover, revealing a ruptured four-inch hose, used to join the chassis oil tube to the cast-aluminium ‘Fairlane’ engine.  Unceremoniously, the car was shoved into its van.

“Gurney calmly kept his mount in first place.  Foyt, however, closed the gap to seven seconds as three Offy types put Dan in a neat little box for some five laps. When they became committed to a line in a turn, he changed his, and eventually picked them off, one at a time.  The Lotus held the upper hand.

“Mounting elation suddenly turned to depression for on lap 147 Gurney was followed down the main straight by a large cloud of white smoke.  Dan backed off and cars he had just lapped, some for the fifth and sixth time, came streaming by him.  Silently, with engine cut, he pulled into pit lane as Foyt, with a quick glance to the left, accepted the lead.  Gurney’s acute disappointment was mirrored in the faces of his crew.  And for many of the fans, the race was over, for they had come to ‘…See the Fabulous Lotus-Fords!  See Jim Clark! See Dan Gurney!’

“An oil seal on an accessory drive on the front of the block had let go, causing Dan’s retirement.  This was the reason given by one Ford representative (of almost 50 present) after almost an hour of searching by Chapman and crew.

“Foyt led for the remaining 53 laps.  He not only won the race but the USAC Championship for the third time in his career.  Over a lap behind, and finishing second and third, were Bud Tinglestad and Troy Ruttman, who brought the remaining crowd to their fee with some hearty dicing.  It was a good race and an exciting race but for many it was over back on lap 147.

“Only ten cars finished.  Foyt’s share of the $42,210 purse was nearly $12,000, which might just b e enough for a down-payment on a Lotus-Ford.  Chapman said (and a Ford PR man verified it) that he will build cars for private owners after he fulfils his primary commitment to Ford.   He refused, at present to state a price.  And, according to a Dunlop tyre man who was present, the R6s the cars were shod with showed very little wear at Trenton and ‘…may be the answer to a no-change Indy’.

“When a Ford man was asked if these cars would run again next year at Indy, the answer was ‘No!’. When asked why, he answered, ‘…’cause we’re going to build new ones.’  The 1963 cars will be used for display and research and development.

“The capper of the day came when one railbird remarked that he didn’t think the Lotus-Ford were really that amazing after all.  ‘Hell,’ he explained, ‘a guy in track shoes can beat a guy in combat boots any day of the week.”

Thanks again to Sports Car Digest for John’s reporting in the way of the classic, 1960s US sportswriter.

Additional notes:  Dan would have at least been cheered by Troy Ruttman’s third place because he still rates Troy as one of the great, hidden-away American talents.  (Ruttman won the 1952 Indy 500 at the age of 22 and showed his versatility with a strong Maserati 250F drive in the 1958 French GP at Reims.)  With Jim’s hectic schedule precluding any sort of consistent commitment to a 1963-64 US test programme, young Bobby Marshman was duly hired by Team Lotus (financed by Lindsey Hopkins) to carry out development work on the new double overhead-cam engines. There was also talk after Trenton that the two Lotus failures had been indirectly caused by incidents during the shipping of parts.  This was later rescinded when it was discovered that on Dan’s car a piston had fractured and thus damaged the oil line – but this does give a flavour of the sort of differences that quickly grew between Ford and Lotus (and between the Americans and the British).  Hearst’s report, indeed, is remarkable for its objectivity. In most contemporary American publications, and particularly over at Car and Driver, the emphasis was very much on the Ford-Lotus cars, with Lotus, in the main, considered to be lucky, and slightly unworthy, partners.  Sports Car Digest, by contrast, was a brilliant mix of Americana and Bernard Cahier. Need I say more.

So ended Jim’s 1963 American oval racing season.  A win and a second.  He would return to Trenton – and Indy, of course – in 1964.

“It had been hard work and a great deal of travelling for just three races,” he would write later in Jim Clark at the Wheel, “but it was worth it in the results we gained and the impact we made.  I now have an ambition to drive the Lotus 29 on a road circuit but I suppose that dream will have to wait.”

Jim would, of course, drive the 1965 Lotus 38 Indy car up the Ste Ursanne hill-climb, as we have described elsewhere on these pages, but in 1963, after the US and Mexican GPs, there were American sports car races still to pursue.  From New Jersey, meanwhile, the new World Champion took a 707 back to England for a different kind of race:  the Snetterton Three Hours with the Normand Racing Lotus 23B.

Personal trainer?  Gym?  Nutritionist?  “Racing keeps me fit,” said Jim.  “Racing and getting to races.  There’s no time for anything else.”22259.tif

Captions (from top):  looking slightly less elegant thanks to its angled exhausts, the Lotus 29-Fords nonetheless set the pace at Trenton.  Jim, wearing his regular, peakless Bell Magnum but on this occasion (as per the USAC regularions) a shoulder harness, was leading easily before an oil leak forced his retirement; Dan then took over in the blue-and-white car – but retired with a broken piston.  Note that they are running the same Dunlop-Halibrand wheel combination as Milwaukee; Dan Gurney, on board a 707, gives some idea of what it was like in 1963, when trans-Atlantic crossings were for drivers like Dan and Jim Clark as frequent as trips to the local market.  Economy class was a little more spacious back then; the seat backs included a serious reading light; and everyone dressed for the occasion, regardless of the route or the timings Photographs: Ford Motor Company and LAT Photographic

It was initially difficult to find images from the 1963 Trenton 200.  I wrote to most of the leading US journalists for leads;  I contacted local, New Jersey, newspapers and agencies.  No luck.  Then, the day after the above report was published, I received this bundle (below) from the Ford Motor Company.  To say I’m delighted is massively to under-state.  Finally, we can gain a picture of what it was like back then on the track that is no longer.  Look at the old grandstand; look at Jim Endruweit and the Lotus mechanics, all neat in green.  Look at the sandy infield;  look at the Fairground in the background.  Look at the 29s out there in the groove.  That’s the rear-engined Kurtis-Offy of the  Canadian, Ed Kostenuk, that Jim is lapping.  That looks like the nose of Parnelli’s Watson on the right as Jim’s 29 is pushed backwards down the pit lane – and that’s Roger McCluskey’s Vita Fresh Orange Juice Special behind Jim’s car at bottom.  Again, many thanks to FoMoCo.

THF110896_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110898_JimClark-ChuckRogee-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110899_JimClark-DanGurney-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110900_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963THF110902_JimClark-Trenton200_09-22-1963

Clark’s Gold Cup

21594.tifJim’s hectic schedule was a blessing:  he had little time to dwell upon the post-Monza traumas.  After the Chapman party, Jim returned to Edington Mains for a couple of days, there at last to savour the feeling of securing the World Championship. There were interviews to handle; and the concept of an autobiography was quickly gathering strength. Too quickly, though, it was time to drive down to Tarporley in his new, prototype Lotus Elan for the Daily Express-sponsored Gold Cup meeting at Oulton Park. Although this was a two-day meeting, with practice on Friday and racing on Saturday, Jim was additionally required to drive the 25 in a filming session for Esso. Unusually, movie cameras were mounted on a specially-made, triangulated section behind the driver and in the footwell area.  Everyone remembered Graham Hill’s scare at the Nurburgring the year before, when he had clouted a camera that had fallen off another car, but this session, at least, would take place with no other cars on the circuit.

Cedric Selzer recalls Colin Chapman’s reaction to the filming in his superb new autobiography, “Jim Clark”“The camera on top was operated by a battery pack – basically a wooden box containing a number of batteries.  No-one had thought of how this box was going to be mounted.  It was too big to go on the driver’s lap.  While we were dithering over what to do, Colin Chapman came over, slightly irate, as he wanted to get away as soon as filming was over.

“He put the box on top of the two rear tailpipes and bound it on with tank tape.  We all looked at each other, knowing what the outcome would be.  Jim went out in the car and on the second lap he came in with the battery box missing. We were not surprised. The camera crew went around the circuit to collect it. They came back with the battery pack completely wrecked. Fortunately for them, they had a spare. Chapman played no further part in remounting the battery box.   The mechanics took over, did it their way, and there was no further trouble! Jim never went over 7,000rpm as he was worried about the battery box going missing again but he drove as if he was driving at full speed.”

Many of you will have seen this on-board lap already on YouTube – but I am pleased to show here the entire film made by Esso, beginning with the Esso caravan’s departure (with Joe and Lofty!) from the Fulham oil dump by Wandsworth Bridge, London. It also includes some nice shots from the British GP and the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Watch for Cedric Selzer in the closing sequence, fingering the Cup itself!

Jim was scheduled to drive three different cars at Oulton – the 25 in the F1 Gold Cup; the Normand Lotus 23B; and, finally, now that it had been homologated, the brand new Lotus-Cortina.  He indeed raced the 25, and won with ease from the pole.  His new lap record established him as the first driver officially to lap Oulton at over 100mph; and top speeds in the F1 race, recorded for the first time over one-tenth of a mile on the back straight, underlined Jim’s feelings about the superior power of the BRMs.  Richie Ginther broke the trap at 139mph, Innes Ireland at 138.4 mph and Graham Hill 137.8 mph. Jim was the quickest Climax runner at 136 mph.  After this race, Selzer also wrote: “There have been many stories about the tyres on Jim Clark’s car lasting four races.  This is true, but also the brake pads lasted three times longer than those any other driver.  Derek Wild used to say that you could put all the gearboxes on the bench in front of him in random order and he could tell which gearbox came out of Jim’s car as it showed less signs of wear.   The point is that the standard of preparation was no different between Jim’s car and the number two car.  It was just that the man was very ‘soft’ on his car and so he tended to last the race distance as a result.”1963 International Gold Cup.1963 International Gold Cup.

The remainder of Jim’s Oulton racecard was more complicated.  Having taken the lead from the front row of the sports car race – the first event of the day – Jim amazingly spun on the opening lap and dropped to eighth.  Frank Gardner, who had driven beautifully in practice to take the pole with the little works Brabham, crashed heavily in avoidance and was very lucky to escape serious injury. Despite all this, Jim sliced his way back through the field to win his class and to finish second overall behind Roy Salvadori’s venerable Tommy Atkins Cooper Monaco. 21580.tifJim practised the Lotus Cortina but stood aside to let Jack Sears race it: Ford of America enjoyed a relationship with Willment that extended far beyond motor racing and specially requested that Jack be allowed to debut the car officially. (Without in any way detracting either from Jack or Willment, it seems odd that Ford considered this to be more significant than having Jim Clark, Indy-Ford driver and new World Champion, in the car.  Such, though, were the times.) Jim watched happily with Colin as Trevor Taylor, now recovered from his Enna shunt, jumped straight into the other Cortina to qualify only a shade slower than Jack. 21605.tifTrevor sat on Jack’s bumper for the duration of the race – and in addition qualified fourth for the Gold Cup, in the 25, 0.6 slower than Jim.  Again, though, he DNF’d with more transmission problems.  Mike Beckwith, Jim’s Normand team-mate, made his F1 debut in the Gold Cup, driving Jim Hall’s BRP Lotus 24-BRM, but Mike remembers it as an unhappy time:  “We never got the thing sorted and it all ended when the gearbox seized going into Old Hall.  I hit the bank hard.”  Mike, like Frank Gardner, was fortunately able to return to the pits on foot.

Also in the Oulton saloon car event:  Dan Gurney, driving “Jim’s” Alan Brown Ford Galaxie.  Dan, who had retired from the Gold Cup with a blown engine in his Brabham, arrived very late on the grid amidst frantic PA-calls for his presence.  He then calmly peeled open a packet of chewing gum, climbed into the car…and won from the pole.21611.tif  Graham Hill replaced Sears in the Willment Galaxy and duly finished second – and Phil Middlehurst, father of Andy, was again right in the midst of it with his Cooper S.  About the first thing Andy remembers, as a baby in a pram at Oulton, is staring at the rear light cluster of a factory Lotus–Cortina.  Last weekend, at Goodwood, Andy, still obsessed with mid-1960s Lotus, debuted his stunning rebuild of Jim’s 1966 US GP-winning Lotus 43-BRM.

60,000 people watched the racing at Oulton:  it was another of those classic, brilliant, British motor racing days at one of the all-time great circuits. Old Hall, crammed with spectators, was cambered, quick and very conducive to four-wheel-drifts. Or you watched from further down the hill, on the approach to Cascades, where you could see the cars plunge into the left-hander – or accelerate away over in the background, down the straight, noses dipping as they flicked through the gears. The mist rose in the early mornings at Oulton; the light flecked through the trees. The aroma of high-octane fuel mixed perfectly with the gentle flavour of English parkland. The drivers gathered around the Esso caravan in the paddock for cups of tea and a sandwich. The team transporters were parked in natural but logical random. Flags flew.  And, In a field nearby, the makeshift runway ran diagonally, giving maximum length for take-off.

Jim, Colin and Dan flew from it in Colin’s Piper Aztec, narrowly missing the trees as the engine thrashed away.  From Heathrow, they flew on to Toronto, where they transferred to a Ford company plane for the ongoing flight to Newark.  The following day, Sunday, despite the full programme of Oulton, despite the trans-Atlantic flight and all the connections, Jim and Dan would be racing Lotus 29-Fords in the Trenton 200.

Captions, from top:  Jim glides the 25 through the Esso Hairpin at Oulton Park.  He won the Gold Cup with impunity; the full version of the Esso film made before, and during, the Gold Cup meeting;  photographer Max Le Grand peers down at Jim as the Lotus 25 prepares to exit the Esso Hairpin; the nose dips as Jim squeezes the brakes between the autumn leaves; Jim exits Lodge Corner in the Normand Lotus 23B.  On this occasion he wore his Bell Magnum, creating a very different look from the April meeting at Oulton; Jack Sears and Trevor Taylor stunned the crowd with their new Ford Lotus-Cortinas; Dan Gurney won the saloon car race overall with “Jim’s” Alan Brown’s Ford Galaxie Photographs: LAT Photographic, Peter Windsor Collection

With grateful thanks to Cedric Selzer, whose new autobiography contains many Jim Clark gems. Cedric has published the book himself, with proceeds going to the Marie Cure Cancer Care Charity. It can be ordered on-line or via good bookshopsS2740001

The Jim Clark Victory Parade…at Brands

831_41.tifAt Goodwood over the weekend we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s first World Championship with probably the greatest collection of Clark cars ever seen on one patch of motor racing turf. On Saturday, September 14, 1963, there was a similar, if slightly more muted, Jim Clark parade to toast the same championship win. Jim, Colin Chapman and the Team Lotus mechanics were the impromptu toast of a relatively small crowd at Brands Hatch, where a BRSCC international meeting had the week before been billed only as the Anglo-European Trophy for Formula Juniors.  Jim changed into his Dunlop overalls in order to drive the Lotus 25 around the Grand Prix circuit, waving to the crowd and carrying Colin Chapman piggy-back behind the rollover bar;  and all the Team Lotus mechanics were present, sharing the fun and chatting to the crowds. Behind the 25 ran the Ron Harris Lotus 27s of Peter Arundell and Mike Spence (who were racing that day and would finish one-four in the final) plus the spare 27, an Elite, an Elan, a Seven and a Cortina.  831_43.tifJim would have enjoyed watching the two FJ heats early in the afternoon (won by Timmy Mayer and Denny Hulme) and would have been delighted by Sir John Whitmore’s class win with the factory Austin Cooper S. Bob Olthoff would have revived recent happy memories by winning overall with his Galaxie; and Jack Sears would also have brought a smile to Jim’s face with his class win with his Willment Cortina GT. (The Cortina-Lotus would soon be homologated but not for this weekend). That done, Jim then donned his Bell Magnum and string-backed Leston gloves to set about some serious lappery with the 25.  Despite running the wrong dampers for Brands, and nursing a slight mis-fire, he completed four flying laps, smashing Bruce McLaren’s 2.5 litre record by 0.6sec. (The first Championship F1 race at Brands, the British and European GP, was scheduled for July, 1964.)831_44.tifThat night, with the less pleasant aspects of Monza now beginning to fade, Colin Chapman hosted a huge party in his house in Hadley Wood, near Elstree aerodrome in north London.  Most of Jim’s peers were present, in addition to many key motoring and motor racing figures.  I asked Sally (Stokes) if she remembered much about it.  “I think it was the first time I saw Jim in a kilt,” she replied.  “There were lots of ‘do they/don’t they?’ jokes which Jim thought were very funny.  Apart from that I don’t remember too much about it. Probably we were having too good a time!”

Captions, from top: Jim talks to the Brands crowd. Colin listens and the excellent Anthony Marsh oversees; Jim’s 25 leads the Brands victory parade; rear view of the same.  Images: LAT Photographic  

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