peterwindsor.com

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

Archive for the tag “Dunlop”

Five Good Men and True

On the eve of this year’s US Grand Prix in Austin, I thought it might be nice to have a look at some video cameos of the five American drivers who have to date won World Championship Grand Prix races (or a race).  Thanks to Pathe and AP Movietone, I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of video content that to date has had very little airing; and, wherever possible, I’ve tried to steer clear of the obvious. Phil Hill, for example, is encapsulated by a charming (and I think very funny) video-documentary shot around his first GP win (at Monza, 1960).  It features such advanced techniques as “sound recordings”; Phil reading a script, post-race; and the transfer of images, from Monza to Fleet Street, via “photo-electric cell”.  Watch for the dispatch rider delivering said photos to the studios at Teddington – today’s home of F1 Racing, Autosport and Motor Sport News…  For Mario Andretti, I’ve chosen some nice colour footage of the Lotus Cavalcade staged in Norwich in late 1978.

Where possible, I’ve left the original audio. The silent videos have been re-voiced.

So here they are (in the order in which they won their first race): Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Peter Revson and Mario Andretti

 

Milwaukee Magic

63-8-18 J Clark With Fast Time Trophy& Mike Billing USAC Official _268With that excellent Milwaukee July test behind him (see “Jim Clark, Delicately Poised”), Jim flew with Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman to Chicago on Wednesday, August 14, 1963, for the 200-mile Tony Bettenhausen National Championship Classic – Jim’s second oval race in America. The Milwaukee Mile was already a part of American racing folklore and this race, the biggest of the year on that track, was named after the superquick Indy driver who had died in a testing accident at Indy (caused by a suspension failure) in 1961. S2650001 By now, the Lotus 29-Fords had become the major talking-point in American racing circles.  Jim hadn’t won Indy; and many, amazingly, remained front-engined proponents, AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones firmly amongst them.  On the other hand, the might of the Ford Motor Company was now pouring money into its race programmes, and it was no secret that several customer teams would be chosen for 1964.  The American view at the time was that Ford were allowing Lotus – “those British guys” – to build a car around the brilliantly-developed 4.2 litre V8 pushrod engine.  Key American journalists even referred to Jim’s car as a “Ford-Lotus”.  For his part, Jim was happy to go along with it all.  Although he could live without the attention and the fanfare, he was impressed not only by the challenges of racing in America but also by the prize-money.  He expected nothing on a plate – but he liked the idea of being rewarded for a job well done.  This was in stark contrast to Europe’s start-money system, which engendered reasonable retainers for the drivers but relatively small prize funds.

The 29s for this race were housed nearby at Bill Trainor’s Zecol “Lubaid” (as in “lubrication aid”) garage favoured by NASCAR teams.  Zecol4aBoth cars raced with the softer-compound Dunlops (as distinct from Firestones or Goodyears) but ran with different carburettor layouts:  Jim used the only set of 48mm Webers (mounted longitudinally) available, Dan the older 58mm Webers (mounted laterally).  Bottom line:  Jim dominated practice, qualifying and the race but Dan could only finish third, hampered hugely by fuel-feed problems caused by surge on the lightly-banked turns.  AJ Foyt finished second in his venerable roadster, with Jim resisting the temptation to lap the American star in the closing stages. “I had a field day,” Jim would recall in his autobiography.  “I found I could run tight, round the inside of the circuit, and I used this to get inside the big Indy cars and beat them along the straights to the next corner.  In this way I lapped everyone except AJ Foyt in second place with his Meyer-Drake special.  Towards the end of the race I came up behind him but decided not to lap him because that would have been rubbing it in too hard.  Already the Indianapolis designers were off to build new cars for 1964 due to our efforts!”

All this is relatively well-known.  Much more difficult to find are photos from that Milwaukee race.  I wrote, therefore, to David Hobbs, the very quick and successful British driver who today lives with his family in Milwaukee.  David recommended that I contact his dear friend, Russ Lake.  Although not a professional in the sense of relying solely on motor sport for his livelihood, Russ is by any standards a “true pro”.  He has eaten, slept and captured American motor sports on film for going on 50 years.  And, yes, he had some pictures from Milwaukee, 1963.

You can see them here – Jim accepting his pole award, or in the car, side-by-side with Dan.  Jim in the pit lane.  Jim mid-corner, head leaning to the left, arms nearly straight. Study them closely.  Remember that the Clark you see here is the driver who has just won the Belgian, Dutch, French and British Grands Prix, has finished a fighting second at the Nurburgring, and who has flown to the States almost directly from his win in Sweden.  Look at his Westover driving shoes – slightly tatty and worn from driving the Lotus 25s, the Galaxy, the Lotus 23Bs and the Indy Lotus 29s.  He wore his Hinchman overalls in Milwaukee – minus Firestone logos – and raced with his now-customary peakless Bell (unlike Indy, where he wore the white peak).  Note, too, the “Pure Firebird Gasoline” stickers on the sides of the cars (instead of the Pure roundels), the gauze filters over the carburettor inlets, the pad taped to Jim’s headrest to support his neck and the Dunlop wheels on the front (and Halibrands on the rear).  All these details were different from the Indy spec; and – again – a big thanks to Russ Lake for enabling us to see them – in my case certainly for the first time.  1963-8-18 Jim Clark & USAC Official Ray Pohn_6481963-8-18 Action Milw_6491963-8-18 Pace Lap Clark on Pole_269Jim Clark & Dan Gurney_382

Jim’s winnings totalled $44,225, boosted massively by the lap prizes on offer from such companies as Augie Pabst Motors, Flambeau Motor Repairs, Hoosier Beer Cats, Datsun, Golden Slipper Lounge, Dunkels White Oakes Inn, Zecol Inc, Banner Welder Inc, Baumgartner Imported Cars and Ben Shumow Used Truck Sales.  In addition, Jim received winner’s bonuses from Autolite, Champion, Monroe and Willard Battery.

Jim loved his motor racing – loved driving and also loved learning about it in all its forms.  When AJ Foyt and Rodger Ward invited him to the Springfield sprint car meeting on the Saturday afternoon of Milwaukee, therefore, he instantly accepted.  Dan and Colin also came along.  Remembers Jim: “AJ, whom I knew quite well by then, shouted, ‘Hi Jimbo!  How’s about bringing the Lotus out for this type of race?’  The race was hair-raising and looked dangerous as the drivers power-slid their cars round in great style.  When I was asked if I wanted to have a go, I, for once, declined, but this racing was really a spectacle.”

Below, I’m delighted to be able to embed some video footage of that 1963 Springfield race, complete with glimpses of Jim, Dan and Colin having fun in the paddock area.  You’ll see them at the start and then there’s another shot of Jim near the end, stop watches in hand, absorbed by the proceedings.  He was close to AJ Foyt and to Rodger Ward, and so he would have enjoyed this race immensely.  Note his official pass, dutifully worn, and his Lotus green polo shirt.  (Only the first half of the video is from Springfield but I recommend you watch it in its entirety.) Watch, too, for the brilliant Bobby Marshman.  He’s at the start of the video, showing Jim and Dan around his sprinter, and he’s out there, leading the race, when his engine fails.  He impressed Jim and Colin, of course, and the following year he would race Jim’s 1963 Lotus 29 at Indy (repainted red-and-white, sponsored again by Pure and entered by Lindsay Hopkins).  Bobby led Jim in the 500 before running a little too low on the banking and damaging the sump plug.  Chapman thereafter resolved to include Marshman in upcoming Team Lotus US race programmes and perhaps even to give him an opportunity in Europe.  Very sadly, though, Bobby was killed in a Firestone testing accident at Phoenix late in 1964.

Postscript: Immediately after Milwaukee Jim flew to Newark to test the 29 on the Trenton 1.5-mile oval in the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.  Trenton was more banked than Milwaukee and very quickly, on an empty circuit, with only the Team Lotus boys on hand, the 29 ran into handling problems.  Jim then hit the wall when a steering arm broke.  He was unharmed and resolved immediately not to allow himself to fall into the Lotus “fragile” syndrome.  “I didn’t put this down to Colin Chapman,” he would say later, “because at that Trenton test we were running tyres unsuitable for the banking.  To his credit, though, Colin not only changed the steering layout on that car but he also came straight back and changed all the F1 cars, even though we had been running for five years and had never had one break before.”

S2650002

Captions, from top: Jim accepts the clock trophy for pole position from USAC’s Ray Pohn.  Note the roadster atop the timepiece; the Zecol Lubaid garage where the 29s were based in Milwaukee; Jim in pit lane; Jim in action; Jim and Dan lead the field towards the green flag; and a nice one-three for Team Lotus Photos: Russ LakeS2650004

“Jim Clark, rhythmically poised…”

Perfectly balancing smaller diameter rear Dunlops on an oily Silverstone track surface, Jim Clark wins the British GP

20373.tifAfter a whirlwind start to the year Jim Clark was able to relax for a few days.   Three successive wins enabled him to enjoy the farm like never before; and, back in Balfour Place for a few days before the run up to Silverstone, Sir John Whitmore was full of Rob Slotemaker’s antics and all the recent racing news.  In between, however, there was the little matter of the Milwaukee test.  The Indy Lotus 29-Fords had basically been garaged at the Speedway since the race but, in the build-up to the Milwaukee 200 on August 18, rebuilds and further fettling took place at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.  Jim flew to Chicago on July 10 and on July 12 completed a successful day at the one-mile Milwaukee oval, running through Dunlop tyre compounds and in the process raising the average lap speed – over one mile! – by nearly 5mph.

Dan Gurney, who also tested at Milwaukee, had meanwhile shared a Ford Galaxie with Jack Brabham in the Six-Hour Race at Brands Hatch on July 7.  A massive spin at Paddock in the rain (due to having to run Firestone wets on the front and Goodyear dries on the back) had cramped his style somewhat.  Mike Parkes had cleaned up at Silverstone in his GTO Ferrari but, worryingly, the day had been ruined by two fatal accidents – one (John Dunn) at Abbey in the Formula Junior race and another in the pit lane (Mark Fielden, whose stationary Lotus was hit by a car spinning its way out of Woodcote). The excellent Sheridan Thynne, who would later become Commerical Director of Williams F1, won his class and set fastest lap at Snetterton in a Mini and a few days later wrote poignantly to Autosport, suggesting that a Safety Committee be convened to look into all matters of motor racing safety “before they were underlined by fatal accidents”. Sadly, as ever, his words went unheeded: a third person (a pit lane scrutineer, Harald Cree) would be killed at Silverstone on British GP race day when the very talented Christabel Carlisle spun her Sprite into the Woodcote pit wall.  In another Woodcote incident, former driver and future Goldhawk Road car dealer, Cliff Davis, S2620005would exhibit immense bravery as he leapt onto the track to clear it of debris after an MGB rolled itself to destruction.  Davis was later deemed to have saved several lives. Lorenzo Bandini, who would finish an excellent fifth at Silverstone in his the old, red, Centro Sud BRM, had not only won for Ferrari in the big sports car race at Clermont-Ferrand but had also been a part of the first all-Italian win at Le Mans on June 15-16.  He co-drove a Ferrari 250P with Ludovico Scarfiotti; and, in the Formula Junior race at Clermont, Jo Schlesser had won from an amazing line-up of future stars – Mike Spence, Peter Arundell, Tim Mayer, Richard Attwood, David Hobbs, Alan Rees and Peter Revson.  John Whitmore himself had won the Mini race at Silverstone after a big dice with Paddy Hopkirk – and Tim Mayer, that FJ star and future McLaren driver – had even raced a Mini at Mallory Park, door-to-door with Paddy Hopkirk.  Whilst up in Scotland, Jim had been able to catch up with young Jackie Stewart, who had won at Charterhall in the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro on the same day as the French GP; and, finally, with the London premiere of Cleopatra set for July 31, Jim had thought it a good moment to ask Sally Stokes if she might be free for a night on the town…

The British Grand Prix was held on Saturday, July 20, (oh for a return to Saturday racing!) which meant that the big event of the weekend would undoubtedly be Graham Hill’s party at his Mill Hill house on the Sunday.  Prior to that, there was a little bit of business to which to attend.  Most of the F1 teams began testing on Tuesday, prior to practice on Thursday and Friday morning, and Jim was almost immediately on the pace.  I say “immediately”: a loose oil line lost him time on Thursday morning but he was quickest by a whole second from Graham Hill (spaceframe BRM) later that day and fractionally faster than his Indy team-mate, Dan Gurney (Brabham), on Friday.  Jim thus took the pole with a 1min 34.4sec lap of Silverstone, equaling Innes Ireland’s very fast practice times with the BRP Lotus 24-BRM at the International Trophy meeting on May 11.  (Years later, when I chatted to Jim Clark at some length, he re-iterated what he frequently said about the space-frame Lotus 24:  it was an easier car to drive than the 25 and in Jim’s view could just have capably have won races in both 1962 and 1963.  Indeed, Innes’ Goodwood-winning Lotus 24 was actually being advertised for sale by the time of the British GP, viewable at BRP’s headquarters in Duke’s Head Yard, Highgate High Street, London N6.  It wasn’t sold that year, as it turned out, and was raced again, in Austria and Oulton Park, by Innes. Jim Hall then drove it – for BRP – at Watkins Glen and Mexico.)

Still running a five-speed ZF gearbox (whilst team-mate Trevor Taylor persisted with the six-speed Colotti on carburettors), Jim’s trusty, fuel-injected Lotus 25/R4 had now blossomed into its ultimate, legendary 1963 form:  Colin Chapman had decided to run a wide yellow stripe down the car, front to rear, co-ordinating the yellow with the wheels and the “Team Lotus” lettering and pin-striping down the cockpit sides.  The car also ran the Zandvoort-spec aeroscreen.  Jim, as ever, wore his Dunlop blue overalls, his peakless Bell helmet, string-backed gloves, Westover boots and, for when he was out of the car, helping the mechanics or strolling over to the Esso caravan or the paddock cafe for a cuppa, his dark blue Indy Pure jacket.  The 25, meanwhile, finally wore a new set of Dunlops – around which revolved the usual number of discussion points.  On this occasion it was gear ratios:  as part of the compromise with the five-speed (but more reliable) gearbox, Jim and Colin decided to race smaller-diameter rear Dunlops.

Bruce McLaren, driving the beautiful, low-line works Cooper-Climax, stopped practice early on Friday to begin preparation for the race. 63GBMcLAREN1004cWhile John Cooper supervised the job list, Bruce, as was his style, took his new E-Type Jag down the infield runway to the apex of Club Corner, there to watch his peers.  At this point I can do no better than to record the words he later gave to Eoin Young for Bruce’s wonderful, regular, Autosport column, From the Cockpit:

“Dan Gurney had got down to a time equaling Jim’s best, and Jim was out to see if he could do better.  Graham was in danger of being knocked off the front row so he was out too, and for 15 minutes, while Jim, Graham and Dan pounded round, I was graphically reminded of the reason why people go to see motor racing.

“When you’re out in an F1 car you haven’t got time to think about the fact that you’re moving fast:  you’re concentrating on keeping the movement of the car as smooth and as graceful as possible, getting the throttle opened just that fraction quicker than last time and keeping it open all the way when you’ve got it there.

“At Silverstone you concentrate on shaving the brick walls on the inside, just an inch or two away, and you hold the car in a drift that, if it were any faster, would take you into a bank or onto the grass.  If you are any slower you know you are not going to be up with those first three or four.  You know perfectly well you are trying just as hard as you possibly can, and I know when I’ve done a few laps like this I come in and think to myself, well, if anyone tries harder than that, good luck to them.

“But you haven’t thought about the people who are watching.  At least I haven’t, anyway, but there at Club Corner the role was reversed and I was watching…

“Jim came in so fast and left his braking so late that I leapt back four feet, convinced that he wouldn’t make the corner, but when he went through, working and concentrating hard, I’m sure his front wheel just rubbed the wall.  I barely dared to watch him come out the other end.

“It struck me that Clark and Gurney’s experience at Indy this year may have had something to do with their first and second places on the grid.  Silverstone is just one fast corner after another, taken with all the power turned right on and the whole car in a pretty fair slide but, nevertheless, in the groove for that corner.  Something like Indy, I should imagine.

“I’ve seen a lot of motor racing and if I could get excited over this I can imagine how the crowd of 115,000 on Saturday must have felt.”

Saturday was one of those great sporting occasions in the United Kingdom.  One hundred and fifteen thousand people were crammed into Silverstone by 10:00am;  and by 2:00pm, by which time they’d seen Jose Canga two-wheeling a Simca up and down pit straight; Peter Arundell win the FJ race from “Sally’s MRP pair” (Richard Attwood and David Hobbs); Graham Hill demonstrating the Rover-BRM turbine Le Mans car; an aerobatic display and the traditional drivers’ briefing, everyone was ready for the big event.  Dan Gurney settled into his Brabham with Jim Clark to his right in the Lotus 25.  To Dan’s left, Graham Hill, the World Champion, lowered his goggles under the pit lane gaze of young Damon.  Making it four-up at the front, Dan’s team-mate, Jack Brabham, sat calmly in his BT7.  With but minutes to go, Jim asked for more rear tyre pressure:  Silverstone had felt decidedly oily on the formation lap.  The 25 had never been more oversteery.

1963 British Grand Prix. Ref-20420. World © LAT PhotographicJim was slow away on this occasion:  wheelspin bogged him down.  He was swarmed by the lead pack as they headed out of Copse and then onwards to Maggotts and Becketts. The two Brabham drivers – showing how relatively closely-matched the top Climax teams were in 1963 – ran one-two;  then came Bruce McLaren in the svelte Cooper, then Hill and then Jim.  They were running nose-to-tail – and sometimes closer than that.  Gurney pitched the Brabham into oversteer at Club;  Jack, helmet leaning forwards, kicked up dirt at the exit of Woodcote.

The 25 was also tail-happy;  you could say that.  Jim felt the car to be little better than it had been before the start – particularly now, on full tanks.  Around him, though, everyone else seemed to sliding around.  Maybe it was just the circuit after all…

Jim began to dive deeper into the corners, to gain a tow – and then to pull out of that tow under braking.  By lap four he was in the lead and pulling away…whilst Bruce McLaren was pulling up on the entry to Becketts Corner, the Climax engine blown in his Cooper.   There was no quick rush back to the pits for Bruce, no beat-the-traffic early departure.  Instead, as on Friday, he stayed and watched, for that is what great athletes do.

Bruce:  “Jimmy came through with his mouth open and occasionally his tongue between his teeth.  The tyres were holding a tenuous grip on the road with the body and chassis leaning and pulling at the suspension like a lizard trying to avoid being prized off a rock by a small boy.  Then Dan arrived, really throwing the Brabham into the corner, understeering and flicking the car hard until he had it almost sideways, then sliding through with the rear wheels spinning and the inside front wheel just on the ground…”Formula One World ChampionshipIt was a demonstration of four-wheel-drifts;  it was Jim Clark rhythmically poised like never before in an F1 car, the small-diameter Dunlops combining with the surface oil to produce a slide-fest of classic proportions.  There was no need for a score of passing manoeuvres to make this British GP “work” for the crowds;  there was no need for forced pit stops or for overtaking aids.  It was enough, this day at Silverstone, for the fans, and for drivers of the quality of Bruce McLaren, merely to see a genius at work.

Archive00 37Jim won the British Grand Prix by 20sec from John Surtees’ Ferrari and Graham Hill’s BRM (for both Brabham drivers also lost their engines after excellent runs).  Graham, who, like Innes Ireland, was always fast at Silverstone, ran short of fuel on the final lap and was pipped by Big John, the lone Ferrari driver, on the exit from Woodcote.  The race was also notable for Mike Hailwood’s F1 debut – he finished an excellent eighth (or, in today’s parlance, “in the points”) with his Parnell Lotus 24, and for the seventh place of his exhausted team-mate, the 19-year-old Chris Amon. Chaparral creator/driver, Jim Hall, also drove well to finish sixth with his Lotus 24.  For this was a tough, hard race – 50 miles longer than the 2013 version and two and a quarter hours in duration.  Jim Clark waved to the ecstatic crowd on his slow-down lap (no raised digits from James Clark Jnr) and, to the sound of Scotland the Brave – a nice touch by the BRDC – and to the lucid commentary of Anthony Marsh, bashfully accepted the trophies on a mobile podium that also carried the 25. Colin Chapman wore a v-necked pullover and tie;  Jim looked exalted. He had won again at home.  He had won his fourth race in a row. He had the championship in sight.

To Mill Hill, then, they repaired – and then, for a change in pace, to the following weekend’s non-championship race at Solitude, near Stuttgart.British GP

Captions, from top: Jim Clark drifts the Lotus 25 on the greasy Silverstone surface; racing driver/flag marshal, Cliff Davis, whose selfless action at Silverstone saved several lives; Bruce McLaren finds slight understeer on the Cooper at Stowe; the two Brabham drivers, Gurney and Jack, together with McLaren and Hill, crowd Jim’s 25 at the start; classic four-wheel-drift from Jim Clark. The low apex walls were always a test at 1960s Silverstone; Scotland the Brave heralds the winner of a long, fast British Grand Prix.  Two hours, 14 min of brilliant motor racing  Images:  LAT Photographic. Our thanks to AP and Movietone News for the following superb, colour, video highlights:

The Battle of Reims

20172.tifJim Clark makes it three-in-a-row

The drive down to Reims was the usual cavalcade.  They left Zandvoort, after a celebratory dinner/cabaret at the Bouwes Hotel, early on Monday morning.  First practice for the French GP would commence on Wednesday afternoon (or just one clear working day from the Dutch GP.  As with Monaco now, there was a “free” day within the French GP schedule back then.  At Reims, this was on the Saturday, following three successive afternoons of official practice.  No thought, apparently, was given to the ‘double-header’ pressures facing the mechanics.)  At some point in the road trip Ian Scott-Watson joined Jim and Colin in their rental car and allowed Trevor Taylor behind the wheel of his yellow Elan.   Ian would thereafter spend much time telling the French police that, no, it wasn’t he who had been driving the English sports car at the time in question and that his friend, the culprit, had since flown to Canada…or anywhere…

This wasn’t the usual sun-baked French Grand Prix.  Showers muddied the paddock on Thursday, leaving the Wednesday and Friday sessions for grid-shaping;  Taylor, indeed, set his fastest lap on that Wednesday – and on Thursday, in the rain, neither Lotus driver completed a lap.  (One significant casualty that day was Ludovico Scarfiotti, who crashed heavily in the works Ferrari.  He was for the most part uninjured but shortly afterwards would announce his retirement from racing.  Rescinding this a few months later, he went on to win the 1966 Italian GP for Ferrari at Monza.  He would sadly lose his life in 1968, in a hill-climbing accident.  He was a good friend of Jim’s.)

Wet or dry, flying stones were always an issue at Reims, inducing Lotus to revert to standard windscreens for this race.  With the aeroscreen, it was thought, there was always a risk of debris finding its way into the “jet”.  Slipstreaming on the long, ultra-fast (160mph) French public roads could gain you seconds per lap;  the trick in practice, if you were searching for the pole, was to keep your mirrors free.  Despite a considerable straight-line speed deficiency to the BRMs (including Innes Ireland’s BRP-BRM) and also to the Ferraris, Jim took the pole – and the local champagne that came with it.   In the 25, running the same set of Dunlop R6s he had raced at Monaco, Spa and Zandvoort, Jim found a sweetness in the balance on high-speed corners that he had not felt before – or would feel again in 1963.  “I could set the car up in a whacking great drift around the back, keep my foot it it and achieve cornering speeds that I wouldn’t have thought possible,” he would say later.  Very few photographers – if any – seemed to venture out to these corners in those days (they focussed on the “long” shots on the pit straight and the 90 deg right hander leading on to it) so we are left only to imagine what Jim describes as that “whacking great drift”.  To my mind, given the understeer with which he lived at the International Trophy race at May, the 25 at Reims was now far more neutral – neutral leading to oversteer.  I think it’s also probably significant that by this race Team Lotus seemed to have found some sort of fix for their gearbox drams.  Jim, at last, was able to drive the 25 with both hands on his red leather-rimmed wheel.1963 French Grand Prix. Ref-20133. World © LAT Photographic

Saturday was support-race day, which meant big sports cars and Formula Junior.  Jim was at the track, of course, primarily supporting the Normand Lotus 23Bs (Mike Beckwith and Tony Hegbourne) and Peter Arundell in the FJ race.  There had even been talk of Peter racing the third (spare) 25 in the Grand Prix but ultimately it was felt (when balancing prize money against running expenses!) that Peter should race the works (“mini-25”) 27 FJ.  Denny Hulme again won the FJ battle in the works Brabham, pulling away definitively from the second-place slipstreaming group and finally finishing ahead of Peter, Richard Attwood (MRP Lola), fellow Lotus drivers, Mike Spence and John Fenning, and David Hobbs (MRP Lola).  (As the 50th anniversary of the formation of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd approaches, it’s also worth noting that the talented American, Tim Mayer, finished eighth in this Reims FJ race in one of Ken Tyrrell’s Cooper-BMWs.  Tim and his brother, Teddy, would in the months that follow become an integral part of the new McLaren team.)

Tall and talented Mike Parkes should have won the sports car event with his formidable 4-litre Ferrari but a clutch problem early in the one-hour event effectively handed victory to Carlo Abate (also of powerboat fame) and his 3-litre Ferrari.  Lucien Bianchi (great uncle of Jules) placed third behind Dick Protheroe – and the tough Australian, Paul Hawkins, finished fifth overall with his Ian Walker Lotus 23.  Mike Beckwith had been right up there in third place in the early phase, when Jo Schlesser was leading with his 4-litre Aston, but he fell back a little after a slight “off”.  The small-car class was won by Jose Rosinski, who would go on to become one of the greatest of all French motor racing journalists.

On Sunday – another overcast day – Jim prepared for a torrid French GP as a fighter prepares for a bout, applying white masking tape across his face for extra protection.  Even in the dry, this race would run for well over two hours.

The start, as they say, was the usual shambles.  A fuel vapour lock killed the engine in Graham Hill’s BRM.  Push-starts were forbidden by the regulations…but “Toto Roche”, the autocratic leader of French motor sport and official starter, instructed the BRM mechanics to push Hill’s car nonetheless.  The V8 now revving purely, Roche then quickly stepped away and dropped the flag – except that he dropped a red flag rather than the French national tricolor.   No-one was exactly sure what to do – but they went for it nonetheless.

Jim Clark accelerated hard through the gears to 9,600 (with a max set at 9,800) and then focused on driving the perfect lap:  “Before the race,” he would say later, “I had said to Colin that if I could make the fast corners in front I felt I could open a gap and break the tow.  If I wasn’t in front we agreed that it would be better if I just sat back for a while and let them get on with it…”

Jim was in the lead by the time he reached the first, quick right-hander.  And the second.  And the third.  Full tanks or not, he four-wheel-drifted the 25 with fluid inputs and pin-sharp judgement.  By the time he reached Muizon, the right-hand hairpin, he had free air behind him.  He could forget about his mirrors.ACT

Jim’s standing lap was completed in 2min 31.0sec;  his Indy team-mate and friend, Dan Gurney, lay second a full 2.7sec behind.  Richie Ginther, powered by probably the best engine on the circuit that day, catapulted his BRM up to second place on lap two.  Even so, Jim was leading by nearly four seconds as he passed the Team Lotus signalling board, the 25 sitting on 9,600rpm.

And so it went on.  John Surtees (Ferrari), Dan and Jack (working together in the Brabhams), Bruce McLaren (Cooper), Trevor and Graham Hill scrapped over second place, swapping track space either in top gear, in the tow – or under braking.  At the front, Jim continued to pull away.   By lap 12 of the 53-lap race, he was 19 seconds ahead of Brabham.

Then, for Jim, it all seemed to go wrong.  His Climax engine began to mis-fire at 9,600rpm.  Jim immediately throttled back to 8,000 rpm, where he found a “sweet spot” around which the engine seemed to be half-ok.   He then concentrated even harder on those fast corners but was forced to sit back helplessly on the straights, waiting for the engine to blow – and/or for the next round of bad news on the pit board, for  Brabham was now catching him.  All around the circuit, what’s more, Jim could see parked cars.  Reims was forever tough on all mechanical components – so why was this circuit, on this day, going to be any different for him?

Because on this day – as it had been all week – it would rain.  Jim felt the grease on the track even before his goggles went smeary, for the grooves of the R6s were now worn virtually to slicks.  He was dancing on ice – focussing once again on those fast, very drifty corners where still the 25 felt perfect.  His lap times climbed by ten, 15 seconds;  Graham Hill’s ballooned by 20 seconds.  Maximum revs became irrelevant;  it was all about delicacy.

And so, maintaining that lead, Jim Clark crossed the line, acknowledging Toto Roche’s chequered flag with a raised left arm.  In the grandstands, umbrellas dominated the visage.  On the rev-counter of Jim’s 25, the tell-tale needle sat resolutely at 9,600rpm.  On the work bench later, back in Coventry, Jim’s engine was found to have two broken valve springs.  Trevor (who for this high-speed race, like Jim, raced without a peak on his helmet) might well have finished second had the crown-wheel-and-pinion not failed.  As it was, Graham Hill’s second place was subsequently disallowed due to that push start (subsequently, as in “by the time they got to Monza”.)  Tony Maggs therefore finished an excellent second for Cooper, catching and passing Hill in the closing stages when the monocoque BRM ran into both clutch and brake issues.  Jack took Graham’s third place, with Dan finishing fourth.

Post-race, there was more pandemonium:  a policeman suffered an epileptic fit as he was attempted to clear the crowds from the pit area.  Through the melee, though, Jim and Colin found their way opposite to “the press box”, where they chatted to journalists like Gregor Grant (Autosport), Philip Turner (Motor), Peter Garnier (Autocar) and several of the Fleet Street types.

Thus it was done.  A new era had begun.  Jim Clark and Team Lotus had won three in a row – Spa, Zandvoort and Reims – and had changed the face of Formula One.  The driver lay low in his monocoque car.  The speed, and the suppleness of that speed, was extraordinary.

Next:  the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.FH000006

Captions from top: face taped to provide at least some protection from flying stones, Jim Clark readies for battle at Reims;  Reims practice shot of Jim in the aeroscreened 25; for the race, the conventional screen was used.  This was also the last race for a 25 sans yellow stripe; Jim and his friend, Ludovico Scarfiotti, photographed at the Rockingham NASCAR race in 1967  Images: LAT Photographic; Peter Nygaard Collection; Peter Windsor Collection

High Fives for Clark at Silverstone

moremsportshistoryFirst, though, the build-up to that May 11, 1963, 15th International Trophy Race:

Indianapolis became a steep learning-curve as the month of May gathered pace.  As well as embracing the ways of the idiosyncratic Speedway, and all that comes with it, Team Lotus faced the additional problems of being newcomers amongst the old guard, of initiating the winds of profound technical change and of trying many all-new components thus related.  Like big, aluminium, 4.2 litre Ford Fairlane V8 engines.  And Firestone tyres.  And Halibrand wheels.  And asymmetric suspension.  And seat belts.  And, yes, Bell Magnum helmets.

For most of the month of May, Jim, Colin Chapman and David Phipps, the talented photo-journalist, stayed in the house of Rodger Ward, the 1959 and 1962 Indy winner.   The days were relaxed by European racing standards, beginning with early morning tests, lunch work, more afternoon laps and then late-ish nights with the mechanics after early evening meals.   The issues were many:  the Dunlop D12s were quicker (Dan Gurney had lapped his Lotus 29 at 150mph while Jim was racing in Europe) but the Firestones were more durable.  With one pit stop to the roadsters’ two or three, Lotus could enjoy a big advantage even before the race was underway.  To achieve that, however, they needed to run the less grippy Firestones.

This, in turn, caused a furore.  Firestone built special tyres for Lotus around 15in wheels but then quickly found themselves under pressure from the Americans, who also expected the same, larger, footprint tyres for their roadsters (which normally ran 18in wheels).  AJ Foyt in particular took umbrage.  Expecting Firestone to be swamped, he approached Goodyear about using their stock car (NASCAR) tyres.  They agreed.  And, with that, the great Akron company began its single-seater racing history.

The switch to Firestones had additional implications for Jim.  Until now, he had worn at Indy his regular, light blue, two-piece Dunlop overalls, complete with Esso and BRDC badges.  With Ford’s engine supply now requiring the Lotus 29s to use Pure fuel and lubricants, those overalls were obviously redundant.  What to do?  Dan introduced Jim to Lew Hinchman, the local owner of a large garment and uniform factory.  Lew, whose father, JB,  built fire-retardant overalls for many of the American drivers, was in the process of making a dark blue, Ford-logo’d one-piece suit for Dan.  Why not make one for Jim, too?  Jim was measured up in the sweaty Team Lotus garage one lunch break (air-conditioning units were forbidden by the Speedway Safety Police due to the WWII-spec wiring in the garages!) and Jim was told that the overalls would be ready for the first week of qualifying.  Dan also pointed Jim in the direction of the Bell Helmets race rep.  Dan had been using a leather-edged McHal for a couple of years, and loved it.  Even so, he was impressed with the new Magnum. And so here was a chance for Jim to put his trusty Everoak out to pasture.  Jim examined the new silver helmet and decided to try it in the build-up to qualifying.  For Silverstone, next weekend, he would nonetheless race with the Everoak – for the last time, as it turned out.

Between runs in this leisurely week at Indy, Jim also had time to shape-up his travel schedule for the following weeks.  It would go something like this:

Tue, May 7: return to England (via Chicago). Pick up Lotus-Cortina at Heathrow. Drive to Silverstone. Check in to Green Man hotel. Thur-Fri-Sat: International Trophy F1 race, Silverstone. Sat, May 11: immediately after the race, fly with Colin and Dan Gurney to Heathrow in Colin’s Miles Messenger. Take flight to Chicago via New York. Change at Chicago for Indy. Check in to Speedway Motel. Begin testing Monday morning. Sat, May 18: Indy qualifying.  Leave Sunday, May 19, for London. Stay with Sir John Whitmore in Belgravia. Two days at the factory at Cheshunt. Wed, May 22 : fly to Nice from Heathrow. Check in to La Bananerie at Eze sur Mer. Thur, May 23-Sun May 26:  Monaco GP. Mon, May 27:  leave at 4:00am for London. Take flight to Chicago and then on to Indy. Thur, May 30: Indy 500. Fri, May 31: fly to Toronto and then drive on to Mosport. Sat, June 1: Players’ 200 sports car race (with Al Pease’s Lotus 23). Drive afterwards to Toronto. Take evening flight to London. Mon, June 3: Whitmonday Crystal Palace sports car race (Normand Lotus 23B). Wed, June 5: Leave London with Colin for Spa (Belgian GP).

In other words:  phew!  There was of course no internet back then; transatlantic phone calls were both a novelty and expensive.  Communications with the UK were via telexes and telegrams. Flight bookings were handled by Andrew Ferguson’s office in Cheshunt but re-arranged in the US by David Phipps.  And the tickets, of course, were big, carbon-copied wads of coupons. Jim’s black leather briefcase was literally jammed to the hilt.

There was little time, though, as one Indy issue followed another, to wonder if it would all be feasible.  If Jim didn’t qualify on the first weekend, for example – what would happen?  Would he miss Monaco or would he foresake Indy?  Given the powers behind the Indy effort – Ford, Firestone, etc – probably it would be Monaco.  For now, though, it was heads-down:  there was not a moment to spare – or even to think about the bigger problem.

In the midst of all this, Silverstone turned out to be a golden Saturday to be forever savoured. Thursday and Friday, by contrast, were best forgotten.  Dunlop were pushing R6 development to new frontiers;  Jim, as at Snetterton, found the Lotus 25 to be all over the place on the new tyres.  On a cold and windy Thursday, jet lag or no, he couldn’t find anything approaching a sweet spot with the car – and this was with exactly the chassis (R5) in which he’d been so quick at Aintree (on R5s).  He was only fifth that Thursday, focusing as he was on trying to make the car work just through Stowe and Club.   If he could find a balance there, he reasoned, then he could probably make up for deficiencies over the rest of the lap.

The mechanics – Jim Endruweit, Cedric Selzer Dick Scammell, Derek Wilde and the boys – worked through to six o’clock on Friday morning, rebuilding Jim’s car with yet another set-up change.   Perhaps, in addition, the rebuild might uncover a more fundamental chassis fault…

To no avail.  Saturday was cold and wet;  as all-weather as the new Dunlops undoubtedly were, little could be learned about a dry-weather balance.  The grid therefore being defined by Thursday’s times, Jim tried team-mate Trevor Taylor’s car for a few laps.  A spin at Copse capped an unremarkable day.  Innes Ireland, what’s more, would start from the pole in the BRP Lotus 24-BRM – a chassis that Jim had always liked.  Graham Hill was second in his trusty 1961/62 BRM, Bruce McLaren third in the new works Cooper and Jack Brabham fourth in his BT3, his engine down on power after a rushed rebuild.  Poor Dan Gurney had flown over with Jim from Indy but for him there would be no F1 debut with Brabham:  there was a dire shortage of Climax engines in this build up to the season proper, highlighted by Jack’s frequent runs up and down to Coventry.  Jack was more than ready to let Dan race the one and only BT3 at Silverstone but a short test at Goodwood confirmed that Dan was much too tall for Jack’s cockpit.  He would have to wait until Monaco to drive his tailor-made car.

This race was also notable for the appearance of the new 1963 Ferraris driven by John Surtees and Willy Mairesse.  Powered by regular V6 engines (with V8s rumoured to be on the way), the new cars showed glimpses of promise amidst predictable teething troubles.  This would be Surtees’ first F1 race for the Scuderia (and his first F1 race of the season;  the beautiful Lola GT, a forerunner of the 1964 Ford GT and a car with which Surtees had been closely involved form the outset, also had its maiden appearance this Silverstone weekend.  In a portent of the drama that was to explode three years later, Big John practiced the Lola on Thursday but was then forbidden by Ferrari from racing it on Saturday, even though the Sports Car Race was the last event of the day.  John appointed Tony Maggs in his place;  the South African started from the back of the grid and finished an excellent ninth.)

After Thursday’s all-nighter, and given the slight repairs that needed to be made to Trevor’s car after Jim’s spin, Colin decreed late on Friday afternoon that the boys should not overdo it.  “Just put everything back to standard on both cars.  Try to finish by nine. Get an early night.”

This they attempted.  After packing the 25s back into the transporter and driving it to their regular garage on the outskirts of Towcester, they race-prepared the cars to standard spec before repairing to their hotel, the Brave Old Oak, in time for a half-past-nine drink at the bar.   A “quick drink” then evolved into an all-nighter of a different kind – the liquid kind.  Come Saturday morning, as the bleary-eyed Team Lotus crew hustled their transporter through the early-race traffic, all the talk was of the blonde girl who worked behind the bar…Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden attended the 1963 International Trophy;  and the weather doffed its cap. A warm spring sun quickly replaced early cloud.  One hundred thousand spectators poured through Silverstone’s gates, filling the grandstands and the grass banks right around the circuit.  The British Grand Prix may have been but a couple of months in the future – here, at Silverstone – but the fans could not get enough.  A clear example of how less is definitely not more – providing the product is right. In the Team Lotus transporter, between laughs, Jim Clark reflected on the good news:  today they would forget the R6s.  They’d race R5s.  Dunlop wouldn’t like it but there you go.  A race is a race.A masterpiece of a race.  Jim started on the second row but was quickly up to second place, trailing his friend Bruce McLaren for a couple of laps before slicing past and pulling away.   Suddenly he had a Lotus 25 around him.  Suddenly he had balance and feel when on Thursday he been obliged to drive mainly on reflex, dumbing the understeer with induced flick oversteer.  Now he was four-wheel-drifting the 25 through Copse, Becketts, Stowe and Club.  Now he was using every inch of road through Woodcote and again past the pits, making the art of ten-tenths driving look sublimely simple.

18609.tifHe won it – and he won it with ease.  It was a Clark Classic on the old R5s in Lotus 25/R5.  Bruce finished second and Trevor drove well to make it a Team Lotus one-three.  Innes, quick all weekend, finished fourth – but not before recovering from a big spin at Woodcote, the thick tyre smoke of which effectively ushered-in a new era – the era of the soft-compound Dunlop R6.  Never before had rubber been so burnable – or so sticky.   Innes revolved the 24 at high speed – probably on oil dropped by the Surtees Ferrari, which eventually retired – but kept the car on the Ireland.  A few years before, the odds of that happening would have been too small even to contemplate.   Now, if we can combine those new grip levels with more compliant sidewalls, thought Jim and Colin, then we’ll definitely have a race tyre

It was a fun day, too.  Sir John Whitmore was again magnificent in the Cooper S;  Mike Beckwith won his class with the Normand Lotus 23B;  Jack Sears scored the first of his many wins with the big Ford Galaxie – a car that Jim had driven over at Indy, when he was filling in some time one quiet day at the Speedway; Jim in Galaxy '62Graham Hill won the GT race in John Coombs’ lightweight E-Type; and Denny Hulme again won the Formula Junior race in the factory Brabham, just beating David Hobbs and Paul Hawkins.  Earlier that week, Jack himself had driven the FJ car, helping Denny with set-up and with a few circuit pointers.  Then there was the business with the Miles Messenger.  Racing over, Jim and Dan piled into the cramped four-seat cockpit; bags were stuffed into the small luggage compartment (no room for the trophy!); Colin fired up the DeHaviland Gipsy engine, opened the throttle…and nothing happened.  The old four-seater remained bogged in the Stowe mud, its wheels intransigent.   Out jumped an amused Silverstone winner and his buddy, Dan  – and off, in a lighter Miles, set Colin.  Even as the little aeroplane was gathering speed, Jim and Dan were scambling aboard.

Four connections and 4,000 miles later, the two Team Lotus friends were at Indy, ready to test on a warm Monday morning.

Captions from top:  Dan Gurney, in new Hinchmans, Colin Chapman and Jim Clark, still in Dunlop blues, talk wheels and tyres early in the Indy month of May;  Jim fingertips 25/R5 out of Becketts en route to victory; late in ’62 Jim had fun at the Speedway with a road-going Mercury Monterey.  Images: LAT Photographic, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more on Hinchman overalls: http://hinchmanracewear.com

Clark brilliant at Aintree

18303.tifJim Clark’s 1963 racing schedule now begins to gather real pace.  The back-to-back early-season European non-championship F1 races behind him, Jim returns to the farm for a couple of days before driving the 225 miles down to Liverpool for his third non-title F1 race of the season, the Aintree 200. (Jim will drive approximately 40,000 road miles in 1963.)  At Edington Mains there is always farm work with which to keep abreast but in addition there is plenty of racing-related admin, the relevant papers of which he files in his red leather desk folder.  A good example of Jim’s meticulous attention to detail can be seen in his correspondence with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although the Team Lotus entries and surrounding paperwork are handled by Andrew Ferguson and – for Indy, 1963, also by David Phipps, the tall photo-journalist who had become a close friend of Colin Chapman – Jim receives a personal letter from the Speedway’s Henry Banks, inviting him to take part in an upcoming race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Bearing in mind that the FIA inter-change between drivers licenced to different sanctioning bodies was a brand new thing in America, Henry’s letter to Jim, detailing an “all-comers’” race on April 28, in retrospect seems logical.  The exact description of the event – “a 300-mile race for American-manufactured cars in the improved touring category (or what would later be known as NASCAR’s Yankee 300!)” – obviously catches Jim’s attention because his written reply is as follows: “Unfortunately, like Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham, I am flying back and forth between Europe and America at the moment and on that particular date we are scheduled to race at Aintree here in Britain…”

As he sits at his desk, Jim also takes stock of his upcoming schedule.  Hectic travel is of course not new to him:  early in 1961 he competed in three New Zealand internationals before embarking on his European season – and he had finished that year, and begun 1962, with four South African races, an outing at Daytona in a Lotus Elite and then a one-off race in a Lotus 21 in Sandown Park, Australia.  What now lay ahead, however, takes him into new territory.  Following Saturday’s Aintree 200, Jim and Colin will fly immediately back to Indy via Chicago (Jim’s third trip to the States since January).  There they will continue to run the Lotus 29s at the Speedway before returning on May 7, with Dan Gurney now joining the group, to race at Silverstone in the Daily Express Trophy meeting.   Then it will be back to Indy again, this time for qualifying, before flying back for the Monaco and European GP on May 26.  (Assuming Jim qualifies on the first weekend, that is:  if rain intervenes, or they run into problems, Jim would then have to miss Monaco in order to qualify at Indy on the second weekend.)  Following Monaco, he, Dan and Colin will then fly back to Indy for the race the following Thursday (Memorial Day).  Jim will then drive to Mosport to race in the Players 200 two days later, catch a Toronto flight to London that night and race at Crystal Palace, in the Normand Lotus 23B, on June 3 (Whitmonday).  Nor will there be a break after that, for the Belgian GP at Spa is scheduled for the weekend of June 7-8-9.

Jim takes all of this merely as part of his job.  Comets and Boeing 707s make flying more fun than it had been in the turbo-prop days – and economy seats are relatively wide and relatively long.  You can actually sleep on a trans-Atlantic flight – and the immediate necessity to have to drive a racing car does away with jet lag.  Beyond that, Jim’s parents had never wanted him to race.  Now, with this sort of schedule, and with reasonable chances ahead of him for some good results, he can at least justify racing as a profession from which he can earn a living.

Aintree is bathed in sunshine on Friday, April 26 – and Jim, running the Lucas fuel-injected Lotus 25, feels as good in the car as he had at Pau and Imola.  Compared with the carburettored 25 of 1962, the fuel-injected 25 provides a more useable power band, particularly at low revs. The new short-stroke Climax engine can also be revved higher, additionally enhancing torque and power. The biggest talking-point in the Team Lotus truck is actually of the ZF gearbox and the ongoing problem of the thing jumping out of gear (a subject Colin Chapman prefers his drivers not to mention to the press!).  The root cause of the issue is that the ZF was basically a four-speed gearbox adapted to take an extra cog. The welds, reduced to a minimum, habitually came away from the spline.Trevor Taylor’s car occasionally runs a strong, heavier Colotti five-speed gearbox but Chapman does not want to compromise weight on the number one Clark car. He continues to work away with pencil drawings whenever he has a spare moment but an ultimate fix will not achieved until new ZF gearboxes, with the selector mechanism on the side of the gearbox, are fitted for 1964.  For now, Jim spends so much time wondering if the 25 is going to jump out of top that he begins to develop a one-handed driving style, steering with the left hand and holding the car in gear with his right. Jim also has reservations about the new Dunlop R6s. He hadn’t liked them at Snetterton, where the 25 had felt more skittish than at any time in its life – and he had used last year’s R5s (based on the older D9 and D12 tyres) at Pau and Imola.  He would do so again at Aintree but Dunlop are keen to try a new version of the R6 at Silverstone in two weeks’ time.   (Talking about Snetterton, Jim is a little surprised to see Denis “Jenks” Jenkinson write in the latest edition of Motor Sport that Graham Hill had won in the wet there because “Jim Clark was out of practice, Hill having raced in Australia and New Zealand over the winter.”  So Jim’s endless testing of the Lotus 29 hadn’t counted?

Jim is easily fastest on Aintree Friday, loving the circuit on which he had won the British GP in 1962 – and the 1962 Aintree 200 (in the Lotus 24:  he had also been quick in the wet at Aintree in 1961, before the Lotus 21 blew an oil pipe.). Strangely, though, he looks unfamiliar in the Lotus 25 on Friday, wearing, as he is, the older, 1961-spec, smaller-eyepiece, goggles he’d last worn at Zandvoort in 1962.  For race day, Jim switches to his customary wide-lens Panoramas (with black tape across the top-third of the lens).  Still he wears his trusty, stone-nicked dark blue, peakless Everoak.1963 BARC 200.

Despite the unchanged R5s, Jim’s pole time had been 1.2 sec faster than his fastest practice lap at the British GP the previous July. Jack Brabham is second, 0.8 sec slower in his 1962 BT3, but non-starts when his Climax engine throws a piston late on Friday. (This failure has the knock-on effect of delaying the completion of Dan Gurney’s new Brabham for the Daily Express Trophy, ensuring that Dan will remain a frustrated spectator after the long flight over from Indy. It is probably because of some of these dramas, and because Dan had initiated the Lotus Indy programme in the first place, that Colin Chapman will have no compunction about lending Jack Brabham a Lotus 25 for the Monaco GP a few weeks later.)

Graham Hill, who at Aintree is still in his 1962-spec BRM, is 0.8 sec quicker than he’d been the previous July – but slower than Innes Ireland, who is very fast in the Goodwood-winning BRP Lotus 24-BRM. Ireland qualifies third, Hill fourth and Ritchie Ginther fifth, equaling his team-leader’s time in the second BRM. Trevor, again in gearbox trouble, will start from the inside of the third row in the carburettored Lotus 25.

What should have been a Clark walkover under leaden skies on Saturday turns out to be one of the best races of the 1963 season. The record crowd at the famous Grand National venue can hardly believe it when Jim Clark’s hand goes up at the start and the field swarms around him.  With the 25’s battery completely flat, Jim is totally helpless. Ted Woodley and the boys push the car over to the pits, fit a new battery – and the car starts perfectly.  Jim leaves the pits even as the field is well into its second lap.

Clark drives brilliantly in these early stages but clearly the car still isn’t right.  A fuel-injection-related mis-fire comes and goes.  Trevor, meanwhile, is running fifth and looking good.18316.tif

On lap 16 Colin Chapman thus makes the sort of decision that even the most hardened of Team Principals always dread:  he pulls in both of his drivers and instructs them to swap cars. (I spoke only a couple of days ago to Anita Taylor, Trevor’s sister, about this. “Trevor was only too ready to oblige,” she said. “Of course he wanted to win. He was also a friend of Jimmy’s, a colleague, a huge admirer. If Chapman thought it was best for the team, Trevor went along with it. He was that sort of man.”)

It is a beautifully-orchestrated manoeuvre.  Jim comes in first and is ready, waiting, as Trevor screams to a halt. Out jumps Trevor and quickly Ted Woodley swaps seats. In slides Jim. He has the rear Dunlops alight before Ted is even clear of the car.

So Jim Clark is now in Lotus 25 Number 4 and Trevor in Lotus 25 Number 3. Out in front, Ritchie Ginther gives best to Graham after taking an early lead; Innes is third, followed by Bruce McLaren in the new 1963 Cooper 66-Climax.

Jim Clark then produces a supreme display of class driving, perfectly-balancing the carburettored 25 through Aintree’s medium-speed corners, blipping the throttle on the slow ones to keep the revs in the useable band. He works his way back to an eventual third place.  His lap times are consistent to within tenths; his fastest lap – a staggering 1min 51.8sec – is 0.6 quicker than his pole time and a full 1.8sec quicker than his pole lap at the British GP in ’62.  This in a car with the 1962-spec, 175bhp engine.

Afterwards, Jim says simply this:  “I really enjoyed this race – even though I didn’t win it;  I enjoyed it more than a number of the Grand Prix events I was to drive during the season.”

Graham Hill wins Aintree (from Innes Ireland, Jim/Trevor, Ritchie, Bruce, Chris Amon in the Reg Parnell Lola and Trevor/Jim) – wins his second F1 race since clinching the championship only four months before; and Graham wins the Saloon Car race, too, again heading the Jaguar 3.8 battle featuring Roy Salvadori and Mike Salmon.  Jack Sears wins his class in a Ford Cortina GT;  Sir John Whitmore wins the Mini division;  Roy Salvadori leads home Innes Ireland in the big sports car event (Cooper Monaco, Lotus 19); our friend Mike Beckwith wins his class with the 1600 Normand Lotus 23B;  Pete Arundell and Paul Hawkins head the 1100 Lotus 23 class; and Denny Hulme, a new rising star from New Zealand, brilliantly wins a wet Formula Junior race in the new Brabham (from Frank Gardner, Pete Arundell and Mike Spence).

With no vested interest other than as a guy who loves motor racing, Bruce McLaren has this to say about Denny’s win:  “For a driver who professes not to be particularly good in the wet, I thought fellow-New Zealander, Denny Hulme’s win in the works Brabham FJ was very good.  For a couple of years he ran his own FJ Cooper as a privateer with very little outside assistance, and he did much better than anyone expected.  18297.tifHe is now being trained in the Brabham tradition by building, working on, and developing his own car.  He works in the Brabham racing shop under Jack’s watchful eye and his fine drive in the rain at Aintree was the result – his first really big win for some time, and a most convincing one at that.”   No surprise, really, that Bruce would sign Denny to his McLaren F1 team some five years later.

And, about Jim Clark’s performance at Aintree, Bruce is unequivocal: “It is interesting to note the way that Jim Clark is taking over the Moss role in motor racing.  After practice at Aintree on the Friday, a certain well-known driver said to me, ‘I’m very pleased with my car – very pleased indeed.  I’m only half a second slower than Clark’.  There was a time when the proud phrase ‘only just slower than…’ just had to refer to Stirling Moss.”

Note:  driver-swapping would continue through to 1964, when Jim took over Mike Spence’s Lotus 33 at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

Images:  LAT Photographic

Captions Top: Jim Clark dances with the throttle in Trevor Taylor’s carburettored 25. Middle: Jim in the early phase of the race in his own, fuel-injected 25. Bottom:  Denny Hulme made his name by winning the wet Aintree FJ race 1963aintree200   

Post Navigation

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: