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Archive for the category “Jim Clark’s 1965 season”

F2 interlude in champagne country

Rheims programmeJuly 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 event (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 play secondary 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.1077_34 1965ReimsF2

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.) Images: LAT Photographic

Clark in an orbit of his own

Note: with the exception of the Month of May at Indy, all of Jim Clark’s 1965 season – from East London, South Africa through to the Belgian GP at Spa – can be read on one post (entitled “Jim Clark’s epic 1965 season”). The four weeks at Indy have all been posted separately – and we will be doing so for the remainder of this year. All can be found under the category “Jim Clark’s 1965 season”. We take up the story as Jim prepares for the French Grand Prix…

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; Edington Mainsentertained 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 Reims, 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.yuri-gagarin-timeS1420011

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.

“Sally?”

“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.

29578 1965FrenchGP 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.

29579 1965FrenchGPJim’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 are two short videos from the race, courtesy of British Pathe and British Movietone News. Apologies for the way the Pathe video 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. The second video, the Movietone News film, has only recently been uploaded to YouTube and contains some excellent footage from the race

29705 1965FrenchGP

 

Jim Clark wins the Indy 500

victory laneIn celebration of Jim Clark’s historic win at the 49th Indianapolis 500, there is perhaps no better person to recount the occasion than Jim himself. This is what he wrote shortly after the race in the (rare) updated version of his autobiography, Jim Clark at the Wheel:

“Practice at Indianapolis often serves as a guide to ultimate performances, but it goes deeper than this because even such things as the time of day can influence your practice times. Also, you are not restricted to a particular grade of fuel, as you are in European racing, so it is quite easy to brew up some juice to give you a great deal more power. We tried a nitro mix in our fuel in practice and got ourselves an extra 50bhp but in the race we chose to run on alcohol and play safe. AJ Foyt, my greatest rival, ran nitro in the race.

“I found myself in the middle of the front row with AJ on the pole. Unlike 1963, however, this race was going to be run with different tactics. For one thing, I didn’t expect to change tyres at all during the race; we would stop only twice (for fuel). We had the Wood Brothers from NASCAR and we knew we were going to be able to load 60 gallons in just 16 seconds. Foyt was carrying more fuel – and was using more power to counteract that.

“I had heard that he had had some gearbox trouble with the car and I guessed that all this extra power and weight might make his car suspect in the race. This is how it turned out.

“I made a good start and was first into Turn One, which, I was later told, was the first time in Speedway history this had been done. This is just one of the statistics that is thrown at you at a race like this. I don’t think it means too much. On lap two Foyt was right behind me and I saw him pull out to pass. I let him go but quickly he began to slow down, and though I didn’t mind him running faster than me, I didn’t want him running slower. So I repassed him and kept the lead from that point onwards.

“I am often asked when I felt as thought the race was won and my stock reply is about 100 yards from the chequered flag. I did, though, begin to feel pretty confident after my first pit stop. I rejoined the track to find Parnelli Jones beside me and I didn’t know if he’d had his pit stop or whether he was a lap ahead of me. I set out and passed him and then a couple of laps later my pit board read ‘PLUS 58 PARNELLI’. I remember thinking ‘that’s good’ for, although we were actually running together, he was a lap behind me on the road. Then suddenly we shot past another car I didn’t recognize until I saw the number on the side: it was Foyt. He had just been in for his pit stop and when he saw us going past he got all gathered up again and started pushing hard. I let him past again and then shortly afterwards got another sign saying, ‘PLUS 58, PLUS 58’, telling me I was now a lap ahead of both of them.

“As I write these words Indianapolis is only a matter of three weeks behind me and I am only just beginning to realize that I did actually win the race. I remember the crowds cheering, the interviews – oh, the interviews! – and of course the wild claims of the tremendous amount of money I am supposed to have earned. At this moment I haven’t the faintest idea what I have won but I know it will be nothing like the fantastic figures quoted.

“Having missed Monaco, I had some points to catch up in the World Championship table and so, for my part, Indianapolis was quickly forgotten in preparation for Spa and the Belgian GP…”

Let’s hear also from two members of Jim’s pit crew during the race – the very talented Australian marine engineer, Jim Smith, and Allan Moffat, the Canadian-Australian who went on to become one of the greatest racing drivers in Australian touring car history. Finally, in this Indy-related trilogy, Dick Scammell, Team Lotus Chief Mechanic in 1965, recalls how Jimmy gave him the actual gloves he used to win the Indy 500 and how he tuned in to the American Forces’ Network (AFN) radio station in order to listen to the race live in the UK.

 

Jim Clark’s Indy 500 – the vital statistics

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Jim’s daily best speeds in build-up to Qualifying  May 3: first laps of Speedway. Best lap: 152.500 (P2); May 4: 152.284 (P1); May 6: 154.772 (P1); May 7: 156.500 (P1); May 8: 158.926 (P1); May 9: 158.7 (P1); May 10: 157.168 (P2); May 11: 157.800 (P2); May 12: 156.9 (P3); May 13: 160.142 (P2); May 14: 160.100 (P1); May 15: (Pole day)

Jim’s qualifying lap speeds: 160.772, 160.973, 160.714, 160.456 = 160.729 average (P2)

Jim’s official driver stats: Home town: Duns, Scotland; Age: 29; Birthdate: March 4, 1936; Height: 5ft 8in; Weight: 160 lbs; Marital status: single

Jim’s pit stops: L66 (17sec; fuel only), L136 (24.7sec; fuel only)

Jim’s winning time: 3hr 19min 5.34sec

Jim’s winning speed: 150.686 mph

Top three finishers 1) Jim Clark (Lotus 38-Ford); 2) Parnelli Jones (Agajanian Lotus 34-Ford); 3) Mario Andretti (Dean Van Lines “Brabham”-Ford)

Rookie of the Year: Mario Andretti

Jim’s race prize money: $166,621; equivalent value in 2015: $1,251,504; Jim’s share of race prize money: £46,000; equivalent value in 2015: £833,559

Additional Prizes:

Plymouth Sports Fury Convertible Pace Car; Borg-Warner Trophy; L.Strauss & Co Trophy; Bardach Brothers Ring; WFBM Trophy; John Hobbs Trophy; Wynn Oil Co diamond-studded pin; Premier Corp engraved watch; $1000 wardrobe from Dick’s Mens’ store, Wabash; Power twin-welder from Marquette Corp; Proto Tool Co “tote tray”; $100 merchandise certificate from Dorothy’s Inc; Speedway blanket from College House studios

(Note: Jim led 190 of the 200 laps, earning an extra $28,500 at the rate of $150 per lap although Colin Chapman always reckoned they were owed another $150 for the extra lap driven by Jim when the chequered flag was waved a lap late)

Jim’s Qualifying prize money: $1700; equivalent value in 2015: $12,769

1965 Festival Queen: Miss Suzanne Devine, of Chevy Chase Lane, Carmel, In.

Official race day attendance: 350,000

Jim Clark wins at Indy: photo album/4

JC wins 500Signed picThis copy of The Indianapolis News, published as the chequered flag flew (top) needs no introduction…  Above, I asked Jim to sign this photo (the front cover of Motor Racing magazine, August, 1965) when I met him during the 1966 Tasman in Sydney. It adorned my bedroom wall for many a year thereafter (thus its condition) but for me it says everything about that day: enormous achievement; job done. Here we see Jim in the winner’s circle. Note the bespectacled Allan Moffat on the left and Mike Underwood (right) studying said newspaper headline. And, below, here’s Jim chatting to a radio journalist before his victory lap in the Plymouth Pace Car.
victory laneVictory lapJim and Colin flew to New York two days after the race, to the Ford stand at the 1964-65 World’s Fair, and there Jim met both Henry Ford II and the company’s President, Lee Iacocca. Jim took the opportunity to ask them if he might swap the Plymouth (one of his prizes) for one of the 1964 Mustangs showcased at the Fair.
JC, LI, HFThey agreed (above) – but the story doesn’t end there: the Mustang was destroyed months later on the docks in England while being unloaded from its ship. Ford then gave Jim the big Ford Galaxie with which he lit up the roads of England and Scotland throughout most of 1966. (The Plymouth  meanwhile, is now owned by Dario Franchitti.) From NYC, Jim flew in a Ford company aircraft to Wabash, Indiana, there to choose a new ($1000) wardrobe of clothing from Dick’s Menswear (a local store owned by Dick Miller and part of the Indy prize fund!). After signing hundreds of autographs and chatting to Fort Wayne TV networks with Rookie of the Year, Mario Andretti, Jim then flew to Toronto to race the Lotus 30 Mk2 in the Player’s 200 at Mosport; Sally Swart (nee Stokes) recently sent me this photo of the two of them “shortly after the chequered flag” at Indy;With Sally  below, AJ Foyt, the 1964 winner, “passes the baton” to an immaculately-suited Jim at the 1965 victory dinner on the night of the race; victory dinnerbelow (right) is how the Speedway Holiday Inn – where Jim and Team Lotus stayed for the race – marked his victory the morning afterwards;Holiday InnMichael Turner’s Xmas card interpretation of Jim’s celebrated win (below – also from my wall!); by nominating “Duns” as his home town for the detail-crazy US audience, Jim forever changed the public’s perception of Berwickshire and the Borders (below right); and (below) Jim made it to the front cover of Time magazine, elevating his sport to heights previously unimaginedMichael Turner  Berwick newsS1420011

Now make sure y’all come back again for next year’s race! Here’s the rain check:rain check

 

1965 Indy 500 race programme

They always do a nice job with the Indy 500 race programmes – and the 1965 edition, that of Jim Clark’s epic year, was no exception. I particularly liked the way they remembered Eddie Sachs, Dave MacDonald and Bobby Marshman. Here’s a sample of some of the contents:S3090005S3090011 S3090006 S3090010 S3090017 S3090018 S3090024 S3090023 S3090022 S3090021 S3090020 S3090019 S3090025 S3090026 S3090027 S3090028 S3090029 S3090030

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