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Archive for the tag “Jim Clark”

A classic victory at home

July 10, 1965. RAC British GP, Silverstone  Jim Clark strolled onto the grid for the British GP wearing his fawn Sally Swart cardigan over his blue Dunlop overalls. As with all the drivers on all the cars that day, his name was big on the side of the car: “Clark”. In the red-upholstered seat of the 33B (now R11 again, with the four-valve Climax) sat his dark blue Bell Magnum with its crisp, white peak. For this race he chose tan kangaroo skin “Jim Clark” driving gloves (from a range that also included red and black). No-one in the Silverstone crowd denied they were about to see an absolute master again at work. It wouldn’t matter if the race was another Jim Clark walkover: that was as it should be. The home crowd accepted Clark for what he was – a quiet genius who was also a sheep farmer from the Borders. There were no complaints back then about the “lack of overtaking” or the “one or two place-changes” that would invariably characterise the race; in 1965, when the Beatles had yet to grow their hair long and Mini Coopers were genuinely mini – like the Mary Quant skirts – and the girls wore headscarves when they rode in open-topped MG Midgets, life was there to be touched, not consumed in ever-larger spoonfuls.

1965 Sil panJim qualified on the pole but only 0.2sec away from Graham Hill’s BRM. Richie Ginther was third in the much-improved Honda, fractionally quicker than Jackie Stewart in the other BRM. Richie was quickly away from the line in a nice demonstration of Honda power but Jim was soon in front.1965 British Grand Prix.1965 British Grand Prix.

And for much of the distance the race indeed belonged to Clark and the Team Lotus 33B. Graham Hill, in the BRM – absolutely a part of the BRM, with his graceful opposite-lock slides and his London Rowing Club Everoak helmet looking as though they were the two key fixtures around which Tony Rudd had designed the car – pushed Jim hardest; Grahamby three-quarter distance, however, the race seemed clearly to be another one for Clark. By lap 64, with 16 to run, Hill, in brake trouble, was some 35 seconds away in second place.Graham

Then Jim’s Climax V8 began to lose oil pressure – first at Stowe, momentarily, and then at Club and Woodcote. On the straights the needle would flicker back to centre. With every passing lap, the plunges grew worse; a blow-up – a rare blow-up in this final year for Coventry Climax in Formula One – seemed inevitable. What to do? What to do?

Jim had no help from the pit wall other than the usual updates about the diminishing gap. With no radio communication, Colin Chapman was oblivious to the problem. They could hear reports of what seemed to be a mis-fire but on the pit straight the Climax engine sounded strong. Jim needed to think it out for himself – think it out with all his brainpower and with the experience of his days as a part-time mechanic in the Jock McBain garage, and the time spent in many a track- and roadside moment, mending broken cars. Even in 1965 Jim could often be seen helping with wheel changes or plug checks or obscure mis-fire diagnoses at major races throughout the world.1965 Sil slide

And so he decided on a cure: he decided to kill the engine through all the fast corners, thus minimising the piston or main bearing damage when the surge was at its greatest and the lubricant at its thinnest.

He would think it through and then he would do it: he would approach Stowe in top, brake and change down to fourth – and then find neutral at probably 130 mph before switching off the engine. He would have no throttle to help him balance a slide; he would not be able to apply any power until the 33B was straight. Instead, Jim realized that he was going to have to attempt an even earlier-than-normal approach to the corner – an approach based around exactly the right moment and speed at which to rotate the car; and then, when it was more or less straight, he was going to have to declutch it back to life. All this without losing the race to a fast-approaching Graham Hill. Prior to the problem, Jim had been lapping comfortably in the mid-1min 33s/34s. Now, in switch-off mode, his lap times were up in the 1min 35/36s.

Stowe, Club, Woodcote…Jim focussed his de-clutching remedy on these three (long, fast) corners. At Copse and at Becketts he kept the engine running but again tried extending the straights as much as possible. Sometimes he fought oversteer (left); other is was understeer (below). Only the year before, when he had been giving Colin Chapman a ride around Silverstone in a Cortina-Lotus, had his boss been surprised by what he perceived to be Jim’s “very early” approach to the corners. Jim had replied that this was the way he always drove, regardless of whether he was in the F1 car, the Lotus 30, the Cortina or the F2 Lotus 35.

Now, in these excruciatingly long and dramatic closing minutes, he was turning in to all the corners even earlier. He could hear the Dunlop tyres scrubbing off speed in the bland silence of the cut engine, mid-Stowe – but only in the distance, as if he was vaguely aware of aircraft flying overhead. His mind, his concentration, was a tunnel. Feel the moment. Apply the steering lock…now…engage third…de-clutch…now.1965 British Grand Prix.

Pit signalThose pit signals narrated a story he didn’t want to read. Once before – at the ’62 International Trophy – Graham had passed him on the line at Silverstone. Literally on the line. (Bruce McLaren had also pipped him the same way in a Mini race – but that was another story.) Today it was different. Today it was Jim Clark versus the failing engine. It was the Lotus 33B, with all its grip and balance and driveability, suddenly racing within itself. And he was the man in the middle.

Three laps to go. Two. He had consistently managed to keep his lap times about two and a half seconds adrift of par. Once or twice the engine had sputtered before screaming back to life. He could see Graham in his mirrors as he reached top gear on Hangar Straight. Concentrate. One more time around Stowe. Once more around Club. The crowd, in his peripheral vision, was a waving sea of arms. Graham was with him now, catching him assuredly. Jim re-lit the Climax one more time. Third. Fourth. Abbey Curve. Fifth. Down to Woodcote. Fourth. Extend the straight. Delay the lateral load. Power on.

Chequered Flag. Last lap: 1min 36.8sec. Enough to win by 3.2 sec – a whole half-a-second more than the Clark-Hill margin in the 1964 British GP!Bruce takes the glory

Cooper’s Bruce McLaren, whose British GP was dogged by a problem with fourth gear, was almost lapped for the third time as Jim took the chequered flag.  He quipped later in his Autosport column: “At least I’m the only driver this year who can claim to have been in a photo finish with Jim Clark!”

In the style of the day, the newspapers would report on Sunday that “Jim Clark was forced to nurse his engine in the closing laps due to a mechancial problem”, with emphasis on Graham’s fighting finish. Nothing more. Easy reading. Something about which to talk – a little. No-one suggested – as is clear now – that not a single other driver in the history of our sport, with the possible exception of Stirling Moss – could have won that race, that day, in the way that Jim Clark won at Silverstone.

Afterwards, the 33B was pushed up onto a flat-top. Everyone clambered aboard – Colin, with his children, Sarah, Jane and Clive; Mike Spence, who had pushed John Surtees hard on the way to finishing an excellent fourth; all the Team Lotus mechanics; and Sally, of course. A Lotus Elan split the crowds ahead. The tractor chugged forwards. Jim, remarkably fresh, shivered as a late Saturday breeze feathered in from the north. He looked around for the cardigan that wasn’t there. Instantly, Jim Endruweit removed the (fawn) pullover he’d been wearing on the pit wall throughout the race. It was a perfect fit. Win No 25 (appropriately!)1965 Sil podiumJC - Sil 65 trophy

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

IMG_1703

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

The month of May (1965): photo album/3

In shirtsleeves
And so it was time for qualifying. Saturday, May 15. Over 200,000 fans streamed into the Speedway. The sun was warm, the atmosphere electric. Jim wore a short-sleeved shirt to the track, then changed into his Hinchmans.  It was a media frenzy; the qualifying line was a mass of people, cars and equipment.  Jim found shelter under the Lotus pit wall gantry.Shelter2 Qual readyHe was due on track shortly after Mario, who took the temporary pole with a four-lap average of 158.849mph in his Clint Brawner/Jim McGee Brabham copy.

Jim and Mike fired up the Ford V8. The first engine had covered an amazing 1500 miles over the opening week, with a new boost-venturi fuel injection system providing improved consumption with no loss of power.  Jim had revved the engine to 9,300 in this period but would restrict the race engine to 9,100 for qualifying and then 8,800 for the 500 miles. No-one believed that Firestone could take the pole – and so it proved.Qual out  Having said that, Jim’s second lap broke the 160mph barrier (160.973mph) for the first time and paved the way to a four-lap average of 159.405mph. Amazingly, as Colin and the media swarmed around him, Jim apologised for “making a mess of it” on laps three and four due to the sudden gusts of wind. Qualifying P2

AJ Foyt (below) stalled his Ford engine just prior to his run but eventually took to the track in calmer conditions. Maximising his softer Goodyears, he won the pole at a stunning average of 161.233mph. Foyt on poleJim would start from the middle of the front row, with Dan to his right.

Then, for Jim, came a welcome break: he headed for the airport and a flight back to London. He would spend a few days in Scotland and then return, with Sally Stokes, to Indy for the race. Jim’s team-mate, Bobby Johns, would “sit in” for him during the traditional front-row photographs on the Monday.

Images: The Henry Ford Collection, The Peter Windsor Collection

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