In 1965 Dessin de Boivent Duffar of Champion magazine depicted 15-year-old Jim Clark’s resolve to drive racing cars. In 1951 brother-in-law Alec Calder won races in Ireland with a Riley Nine, a car that set Mike Hawthorn on his way to becoming first British World Champion in 1958.
Jim Clark’s enthusiasm for motor racing prospered. He read all three books on it in the school library and took motoring magazines. When his eldest sister Mattie married Calder, who raced a Vintage Bentley and Brooklands Riley in 1948, the weekly Autosport was a special occasion.
Clark’s first real sight of motor racing was at Brands Hatch in Kent, taken as a schoolboy by relatives. The future world champion thought it faster than he had imagined, yet curiously uninvolving. He bought an autographed photograph of Stirling Moss more as a souvenir than because of fascination with racing drivers. He was far more interested in the cars.
On his way home from a cricket match at Jedburgh he was confronted by three C-type Jaguars near Kelso. He could only be impressed by dramatic noisy sports-racing cars in the dark metallic blue of Ecurie Ecosse. The successful private team based in Edinburgh were testing the Jaguars at Winfield, a former airfield that held club racing, and he cycled the six miles, climbing through a fence to see them. He concealed himself at first but made contact with the team and its patron David Murray, who would engage him to drive the team’s Lister-Jaguar in 1959.
The first race Jim saw in Scotland was at Charterhall, within a few miles of Duns, in October 1952. It was a star-studded event with the first world champion driver Giuseppe Farina from Italy in the Thinwall Special against Johnny Claes, a Belgian band leader, in a Talbot. A 1930s celebity, the Siamese prince B Bira was there in an OSCA. Stirling Moss was in motoring writer Tommy Wisdom’s C-Type Jaguar with new disc brakes, beaten by the matching skill of Ian Stewart of Ecurie Ecosse.
Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion.
Dove Publishing Ltd.
£22.50, Publishing April 2017