Clark's Crucial Brands

In his prologue to Black Sheep in the Fast Lane Ian Scott-Watson recalled Jim Clark’s crucial debut race against Colin Chapman:

There were three Lotus Elites on the front row at the 1958 Brands Hatch Boxing Day. The sun was taking a Christmas break and it was cold. It was the first time Elites had raced one another and bookies were offering “evens” on Colin Chapman its designer and 3 to 1 on Mike Costin, who had worked on the car’s development. For the first and only time I placed a bet on a motor race, half-a-crown (12¼p), the loose change I had in my pocket. I knew it was Jim Clark’s first race at Brands Hatch, but I also knew how quick he was anywhere. There were two other Elites, Chris Barber, my favourite Trad Jazz band-leader’s was one, the other driven by a USAF airman, ML Robertson started from the second and third rows.

The flag dropped - Jim was first, hotly pursued by Colin. They went round Paddock Bend side by side - something I had not thought possible. Up Pilgrims Rise to Druids Corner, round it and down through Bottom Bend, along behind the Pits into Clearways and back over the line the two cars seemed glued together but still Jim with a nose ahead. It remained so on the second lap.

Dessin de Boivent Duffar from Champion magazine 1965.

Dessin de Boivent Duffar from Champion magazine 1965.

Jim drew away a few feet at a time over the succeeding laps. The crowd cheered madly and I had my fingers locked together. Everyone knew Colin was a great driver - he had raced the Formula 1 Vanwall and built a fine reputation at the wheel of his own sports cars. Spectators expected him to lead but who was this Brands Hatch rookie? As the two entered Druids on their penultimate lap, a driver in an Austin-Healey Sprite they were about to lap, got a bit crossed up in front of Jim trying to get out of their way. It was just enough to let Colin nip through and there was only a lap to go to the flag, not quite enough time for Jim to regain the lead. It was one of Colin’s toughest races and he could see at once that Jim was just what was needed in Team Lotus.

Black Sheep in the Fast Lane is on sale at the Jim Clark Room, 44 Newtown Street, Duns TD11 3AU.