Portraits of F1

In 1967 the BRDC’s “May” Silverstone was on April 29th. A muddle on the international calendar had brought Monaco uncomfortably close, so there weren’t enough Formula 1 cars for a non-championship race at Silverstone. May was traditional for the Daily Express Trophy at a time when newspapers could afford to sponsor a Formula 1 race.
So there were no works Cooper-Maseratis or Anglo-American Eagles, and BRM, Lotus, and Ferrari could manage only one car apiece. The field was further depleted on the Wednesday before first practice, when the JA Pearce Racing Organisation transporter mysteriously caught fire. It had been parked infield on the Club Circuit with two Pearce-Martins and a Cooper-Ferrari aboard, all of which were destroyed. Tony Lanfranchi, Earl Jones and Robin Darlington were left without drives, however Pearce emerged almost unscathed. Apparently he had the lot insured for £100,000.
I was photographing drivers on the grid with my big Rollieflex, a twin lens reflex with beautiful optics. When you got everything right it took superb pictures but getting everything right meant an exposure meter and, well, it wasn’t handy. Heavy and clumsy, it used expensive 120 film, so if you weren’t getting paid a lot for pictures it was not very commercial.
Mike Parkes (above) was driving a 1966 long-chassis Ferrari, a stretched one that suited his 6ft 4in. Ferrari was trying out various cylinder heads on its V12 in 1966-1967, quad-cams, two-valve, three-valve and Parkes had a new one in which the inlet and exhaust arrangements were reversed, so instead of exhaust pipes draped over the sides like spaghetti in the slipstream, they were bundled up in the middle.
Son of Alvis’s chairman, Mike had joined Ferrari in 1963, more as a development engineer than a driver, working up the 330GTC road car, but he quickly became a leading member of the sports car team. In 1961 he had been second at Le Mans with Willy Mairesse in a 250 Testa Rossa, and was successful driving Maranello Concessionaires’ Ferraris. In 1964 he won the Sebring 12 Hours, in 1965 the Spa 500Km and the Monza 100Km, gaining his place in Formula 1 when John Surtees departed Ferrari in a huff.
Parkes drove in four grands prix in 1966, coming second at Rheims on his debut (and only his second grand prix), had two dnfs, and then was second again in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. It was an astonishing start to what looked like a promising career. At Silverstone BRM had one H16 for Jackie Stewart, who matched Parkes in practice, and two V8s for Mike Spence and Chris Irwin. Lotus had a 2litre BRM V8 in Graham Hill’s car, a token entry while it was developing the Ford-Cosworth V8, which would make its sensational debut for Clark and Hill at Zandvoort a month later.
Parkes led almost the entire 52 laps to win the International Trophy, pursued by Jack Brabham (Brabham-Repco) and Jo Siffert in Rob Walker’s Cooper-Maserati. Stewart had kept up with him in the early stages until the BRM’s universal joint bolts sheared.
TOP Mike Parkes (1931-1977) with Tommy Wisdom (1907-1972) motoring journalist and veteran driver in 11 Le Mans races, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and multiple Alpine and Monte Carlo rallies. In June Parkes’ grand prix career was cut short on lap 1 of the Belgian Grand Prix, when he crashed breaking both legs. He returned to sports cars, engineered the Lancia Stratos, and died in a collision on the road.
RIGHT Bruce McLaren (1937-1970) at the wheel of his McLaren-BRM V8, in which he finished 5th in the Daily Express International Trophy. Founder of McLaren Racing, he died at Goodwood in a freak accident with a Can-Am car.
BELOW Mike Spence (1936-1968) Already a veteran of four seasons’ grand prix racing, likeable talented Spence finished 6th in his BRM at Silverstone. A month after Jim Clark’s fatal accident at Hockenheim a year later, Spence took over Clark’s entry at Indianapolis and was killed in a practice accident.

800,000 Scots

I agree with Alistair Darling. He wants the 800,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK to make themselves heard. I was Scottish Nationalist for about a fortnight when I was 15 but I got over it. It was a teenage symptom. Alex Salmon thought he would harness the yoof vote for the referendum, only for a recent poll to show that teenagers know the real world better than he does. Mr Darling was launching a London branch of the Better Together campaign and drew a comparison with the separatists’ Yes Scotland campaign, which asserted that people living south of the Border should not be able to donate more than £500 towards it. Sir Alex Ferguson handed over a symbolic £501 by way of contradiction. It says something if I can agree with Alistair Darling and Sir Alex Ferguson in the same paragraph.

The Better Together launch at Westminster was backed by Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Lord Strathclyde, former Leader of the House of Lords. Addressing the 800,000 exiles, which include 100,000 in London, Mr Darling said: “You may not have a vote in the referendum, but you do have a voice. You have a right to have your opinion heard and you have a right to play your part in keeping Scotland in the UK. The nationalists don't want to hear from you. They believe that, because you have chosen to live and work in another part of the country, somehow you shouldn't be allowed to be involved.” Le Mans 1956. The first of Ecurie Ecosse’s astonishing wins with Flockhart and Sanderson in D-type Jaguar XKD501.

Scarcely any of Salmond’s campaign is not now completely shredded. It is summed up by the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson: “Only now is (Alex Salmond) facing proper scrutiny, and he seems strikingly unprepared. He has been flummoxed by George Osborne’s declaration that an independent Scotland may have trouble using the pound. For years, the SNP has hinted that it has legal advice claiming an independent Scotland could stay in the European Union. It has now been forced to admit that no such advice exists. The latest can of worms to burst open is the notion that an independent Scotland should have a properly funded pension scheme: dull matters, certainly, but important ones that expose the mess that separation involves.”

Jim McColl, one of Salmond’s greatest business backers, said recently that he would settle for “an independent Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom”. Some hope. A few weeks ago he was exposed as a Monaco-based tax exile. As with actors such as Sean Connery and Alan Cumming, the SNP finds nationalists who will do anything for Scotland except live there. Billy Connolly got it about right, describing Holyrood as a pretendy parliament. Remember Tony Blair reassuring somebody 20 years ago that it would be no more than a sort of parish council.

Agree with Tony Blair? Maybe that would be a step too far.

Scots in motor racing: (top) Jim Clark’s Rookie of the Year 1963 Indianapolis jacket. (above) When drivers wielded a wheel spanner. Jackie Stewart unbolts a wheel on his BRM in a Tasman race while Jim Clark drives up the pit lane during practice. (below) Dove Publishing ebook. Buy from Amazon £7.21.

Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion - New Edition

Refreshed text and a new selection of photographs complete this new edition of Eric Dymock's universally acclaimed and award-winning biography of double world champion racing driver Jim Clark. Its release celebrates 50 years since the modest Border farmer won his first World Drivers’ Championship. The original hardback edition, published in 1997, was recognised by motoring writers as well as friends and acquaintances of Jim Clark as the best account of the racing driver's life.


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Colin Chapman

Editing before re-publication to celebrate 50 years since Jim Clark won the world championship, our book has views on Chapman by Ford’s great director of public affairs, the late Walter Hayes: “Jim Clark had two centres in his life. There was Chapman. Not Lotus, - Chapman. And there was home in Scotland. He felt secure at home in Scotland, but he never quite felt secure with Colin, because when you would say to him ‘Well Jimmy if there’s something worrying you why don’t you sit down and ask Colin’. He’d say, ‘Well you know, it’s very difficult’. He admired Chapman. He had huge respect for him. In a way he loved him, but there was often a sort of nervous tension between them.”

By 1961 Chapman’s influence was overwhelming. The relationship was more than just that between the Lotus team manager and a world champion driver. He was essentially Chapman’s world champion driver. It became a close personal relationship in which they enjoyed each other’s company and, while drivers of other teams went out on their own of an evening after a race or a practice session, Jim would almost always have dinner with Chapman.

It was a symptom of the intense loyalty Chapman commanded. His leadership qualities transcended the creation of great racing cars, his enthusiasm was infectious, he brimmed with initiatives, but more than that he had a gift for persuasion. He put over his ideas convincingly. He was able to sell his philosophy his sense of style and his self-confidence on both sides of the racing world and when it came to it, on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a messianic quality.

Reflecting on his achievements, Chapman could say quite un-self-consciously: “A few of us have to achieve great things in life so that it gives hope to others who are striving to achieve.” He really believed that some people, like him, had to succeed extravagantly in order to light up the lives of others. If anyone else had said something of that sort it would have sounded arrogant. Chapman could say it so reassuringly that it seemed almost modest and quite self-evident. He had the natural vanity of a man who knew his ideas were better.

Walter Hayes was one of Chapman’s most loyal supporters: “He never was arrogant. He merely knew better than anybody else. He also knew more.”

Hayes as an editor, had taken Chapman on as a newspaper motoring correspondent: “I’d been told to reform the Sunday Despatch and cars were beginning to be the big thing. There was no popular ownership of cars in this country until 1955. Nobody owned a car unless they were a doctor or a lawyer or rich. There were governments after the war telling us that we shouldn’t have cars at all. Sir Stafford Cripps wanted to tax them pretty well out of existence.”

“I was looking for somebody who could encapsulate what I felt was going to be the age of the car, so I got hold of Colin Chapman who was beginning to be talked about. Chapman was willing to come along, because £5,000 a year was quite important to him. He was difficult because he loved road testing cars, but it was not easy to get copy from him on time.”

Hayes (above) was sensible to Chapman’s design flair. “He was not a particularly good engine engineer, he would sit in a restaurant with a paper napkin and he would draw a car, and when he got to the engine he would just draw a box and write ‘engine’ on it. I don’t think he knew much about engines. His mind was a ferment of ideas yet instead of saying we’ve got it now, let’s perfect it, he always assumed that there had to be something added for next year. If you look at all the things he initiated in motor racing, more than any other man of our day, you often find he never stayed with anything quite long enough.”

He compared Chapman with a later entrepreneur in a similar mould, Tom Walkinshaw, who also created a successful business building and racing cars. “Walkinshaw did everything he said he would do for me on the day and at the price better than I could have expected. The same went for Chapman, and I hear stories about him in which he is not recognisable. I know people are sometimes different with me. People are particularly nice when you hold the purse strings, but I went and got Chapman because I knew him and I trusted him.”

Chapman’s early trials cars were home-built, improvised and primitive masterpieces. His Austin was followed by a Ford-powered version, then a 750cc special for racing. He applied the same bent for engineering to them that he later applied to grand prix racing cars, a talent for innovation that blossomed into something approaching genius.

He was single-minded and obsessional at whatever he turned his hand to. He was an accomplished racing driver; he designed boats and flew aeroplanes, showing aptitude at all of them. His competitive spirit was acute. Chapman never accepted the old aphorism about what mattered was taking part not winning. He could never understand how anyone could want to do anything without winning, and his winning was done with style. He had a flair for appearance, a neat turn of phrase, and a gift for branding the Lotus identity firmly on all he did. His achievements were immense, and he made exciting, innovative - although sometimes exasperating - road cars.
A millionaire by his 40th birthday, he won five drivers’ and six constructors’ world championships, and was at the head of a £10,000,000 business and the controls of his own Piper Seneca two years before his 50th. He had charm; he could show patience, but anybody doing business with him needed to be important to merit much of either. He put in long hours at the factory, ran the racing team at weekends, and seldom stopped to wonder why others did not do much the same. Energy, drive, talent and success were his hallmarks.

So was his short fuse, which sometimes went off in public such as with an overzealous policeman at Zandvoort who arrested him in a trackside fracas. Despite Chapman’s valid pass, the heavy-handed officer refused to allow him to go where he wanted, provoking a well documented punch-up.

His credentials as a driver included a close race in 1956 with Mike Hawthorn at the Whit Monday meeting at Goodwood. Both were in Lotus 11s and Chapman won. Other gifts included an ability to read a rule book, decide what its compilers meant and then find a way to defeat them. He also had a powerful commercial instinct. Where other enthusiasts might have been content to dismantle or cannibalise their first car in order to work on their second, Chapman sold it.

Lotus Engineering grew on the premise that people would build their cars from kits, and went into business on January 1, 1952, in north London. Chapman made the firm his full time job in 1955, married Hazel Williams who had provided the initial capital of £25, and employed Mike Costin as his chief assistant. He developed aerodynamic sports-racing cars and hired out his talent as a designer to Vanwall and BRM. His self-confidence seemed justified when Lotus survived its first financial crisis, and a Lotus Formula 2 car with a Coventry-Climax engine was shown at the London Motor Show. The Elite road car appeared in 1957, a ground-breaking design in glass reinforced plastic of which nearly a thousand were made.

Chapman’s delight at outwitting the racing authorities over badly-framed regulations was only matched by the cavalier attitude he adopted towards customers. He was always careful never to become personally involved, but the sharp-practice manners of Lotus in its kit-car and early Elite period enraged buyers. Their dilemma was that no other car had the same appeal. No other car had the Elite’s combination of speed and roadholding together with purity of line and sheer raciness. Chapman held the technological aces.

Le Mans and Canada

What a weekend’s motor racing; a close finish at Le Mans and an epic drive by Jenson Button from 21st place to win the Grand Prix of Canada. Eurosport’s TV commentators cheerfully admitted they weren’t born the last time Le Mans was that close. Well, it was 1969 and it was 1.5sec or so, against a yawning 14sec this year. It was not quite the first time a driver has come from last to first in a grand prix. Jim Clark did not win the Italian Grand Prix of 1967 but like Button’s drive yesterday, it was perhaps his best race ever. Button won on almost the last corner. Clark lost.


Ickx and Oliver snatch victory in tight finish

From ERIC DYMOCK : Le Mans, June 15: The Guardian

Amid scenes of excitement almost unprecedented in motor racing, Jacky Ickx of Belgium and Jackie Oliver of England won the Le Mans 24 hour race today on the Circuit of the Sarthe. In the final hours they raced neck-and-neck with the survivor of the German Porsche team, driven by Herrman and Larrouse, for one of the most prestigious wins in the whole 47-year history of the race.

Incredibly, the two cars battled wheel-to-wheel for the final two hours, the Slough-based, Gulf-sponsored Ford snatching victory through reliability in the face of the German team’s superior speed. Porsche led until 11 o’clock this morning and with 21 hours of high speed running behind them, the car driven by by Vic Elford and Richard Attwood looked sure to win, with its team-mate, the German-crewed Lins-Kauhsen car, in second place. Then, within the space of 20 minutes, both cars failed with transmission trouble.

Porsche still take the annual world manufacturers’ championship, but the Ford GT 40, the same car with which Pedro Rodriguez and the late Lucien Bianchi won this race last year, battled to the finish against the remaining fragment of Porsche s most determined effort to win Le Mans…

With the final refuelling stops between midday and the end of the race at 2 p.m., the Porsche and the Ford closed on each other. When the Ford called at its pit, the Porsche passed. Then the Porsche refuelled for the last time and, with Herrman and Ickx driving, the two cars went round the 8½mile course with first one in front, then the other.

Two cars still racing after 23 hours is like extra time in a Cup Final or winning the Open on the last green. The enclosures were packed to capacity and the crowd in a ferment as the two cars sped round, cropping fractions from their lap times, out-braking each other for the corners. They caught up momentarily on Mike Hailwood in the second GT 40, who was fighting off the Beltoise-Courage Matra for third place and might have detained the Porsche to take pressure off Ickx.

Victory in the tyre war was at stake, with the Porsche Dunlop and the Ford on Firestone, and the fuel giants battled it out with the Porsche on Shell, and the Ford on Gulf. The Ford won virtually by a decimal place - a tenth of a kilometre, or a second-and-a-half - after 5,000 kilomctres of racing.


I took this picture of the start at Monza from the press tribune at the top of the grandstand. Clark (Lotus-Ford 49) is on pole on this side of the track, Brabham (Brabham Repco V8) in the middle, Bruce McLaren (McLaren BRM V12) on the outside. (Chris Amon (Ferrari V12) and Dan Gurney (Eagle-Weslake V12) are on the second row. Eventual winner John Surtees (Honda V12) is on row 4.

Jim Clark led the Italian Grand Prix of 1967, lost a lap in the pits, then caught up the entire field by overtaking every other car, some twice. It was an unimaginable accomplishment unique in modern grand prix racing. Effectively he raced a full lap ahead of everyone else up till the last lap when his car faltered for lack of fuel. It was an astounding display in an era when cars were closely matched and races decided in terms of a few seconds, on a circuit famous for close racing and yards-apart finishes. Once again Clark displayed that enormous faculty he had for self-control: outwardly calm, inwardly burning with a source of energy that improved his performance with every peak on the graph of indignation or frustration or whatever his motivation was. These were the occasions when he was able to show the world just how much ability he held in reserve, to the despair of his competitors.


Monza was nearly a famous victory, but his fuel pumps failed to collect the final few gallons in the bottom of the tanks. At first he blamed Colin Chapman, and after the crowds had stopped mobbing the winner, John Surtees in a Honda, and himself as the moral victor, he rounded on Chapman for miscalculating the fuel required for the race.

His soaring adrenalin level left Chapman the victim of a tongue-lashing that revealed a side of Clark rarely seen in public. Ten years before when the Berwick and District Motor Club had, as he saw it, cheated him out of a proper acknowledgement of his skill, he had had to defer to its authority. Now the authority was his and Jim Clark was very, very cross.

from: Jim Clark, Tribute to a Champion Now available as an ebook from Waterstones or on Amazon Kindle

Jim Clark and Yuri Gagarin



Jim Clark and Lotus founder Colin Chapman flew to European race meetings in Chapman’s Piper Seneca (like the one above), landing close to the track, and in 1965 just after they had won Indy, flew to Clermont Ferrand for the French Grand Prix. It took four hours and Chapman had had a stressful time with a lot of last minute decisions. When they landed in the late afternoon they found something of a party in progress at Clermont's little airport and picking up their hire car, were invited by the mayor and corporation to meet Yuri Gagarin (the world's first astronaut whose flight took place 50 years ago yesterday), who had flown in from the air show at Le Bourget to a civic reception with a lot of Russians. The Lotus team was introduced, but the translators did not make a very good job. Gagarin shook hands, smiled politely and sat down.

They were enjoying the champagne when the world’s first astronaut realised he had just met Jim Clark. He leapt from his chair, came over, hugged and kissed Jim and Chapman, and told them he was an avid fan. He knew all about Indy, apologised profusely, and asked them to sit down and talk.

Gagarin made his flight in space in April 1961, and died on March 27 1968 when his MiG-15 jet trainer crashed near Moscow, barely 10 days before Jim Clark's fatal accident at Hockenheim.

From: The Jim Clark ebook on sale through Amazon for Kindles at £8.04 (ISBN 978-0-9554909-4-1) and through Waterstones for iPad and other tablets at £10.99 (978-0-955490958).

Dove Digital: Jim Clark


Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion has been released as an ebook. Acclaimed as the best account of Clark’s life, it was published as a hardback in 1997 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first win for a Ford-Cosworth DFV.

Classic Cars magazine awarded five stars and nominated it Book of the Month: “Eric Dymock has produced a book rich with anecdotal reminiscences from those who raced with Jim Clark. Dymock has clearly done his research and brings riveting details of the life, background, psychology and raw talent of the man alive.” Andrew Frankel wrote in Motor Sport: “Great though (Jim Clark) was I thought I’d reached the stage when I’d read as many words about him as my lifetime would stand. Not so. Dymock’s book is compelling, not least because its story is told with clear affection that stops short of the fawning adulation with which so many seem obliged to equip themselves before penning a word about dead racing drivers. An engrossing read.”

Chirnside school; Jim Clark was a primary pupil

The Automobile said: “...compulsive reading and thoroughly recommended”. Classic and Sportscar nominated Jim Clark Best Book of the Year: “Eric Dymock’s celebration of Jim Clark was a totally inspired publication. The combination of the handsome layout, Dymock’s elegant prose and the personal insight into the life of this great Scottish racing legend was great value at £24.99.

Clark’s close friend who launched him on his great career, Ian Scott Watson, wrote in Scottish Field: “Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion is the sort of book you will not lay down until you have read it cover to cover; it is the definitive book on Jim Clark; it is a must for the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in motor sport. It is a book which stands as a remarkable tribute not only to Jim but to its author.”

Scottish Rally, 1955: Bill Henderson's painting depicts Jim Clark in Billy Potts's Austin Healey and Eric Dymock in Frank Dundas's Morgan Plus Four.

Judges for the Guild of Motoring Writers Montagu Award agreed with Scott Watson, nominating the Jim Clark book runner-up in the 1997 distinction to Dymock’s work on Saab.

The Jim Clark ebook is on sale through Amazon for Kindles and in Adobe eBook format for iPads and other tablets through Waterstones and Apple iTunes store.

Jim Clark (1936-1968) won 25 of his 73 grand prix races, a scoring rate of 34.25 per cent surpassed in the 60 years of world championship racing only by Juan Manuel Fangio. Clark’s 45 per centage of pole positions was also second only to Fangio, who paid the Scottish driver tribute as one of the greatest drivers of all time. World champion in 1963 and 1965, Clark came close twice more and was the first non-American to win the Indianapolis 500 for 49 years. His Indy victory of 1965 broke 19 out of 20 speed and distance records for the race, a first win for Ford, first for a British driver and car and first to assign traditional American Indy roadsters to history.

Jim Clark: When motor racing died of a broken heart


Disc jockey on a Los Angeles radio station: "If you are mourning the death of the great driver Jim Clark, put on your headlights". The whole freeway lit up at midday. It was April 1968 and judging by the continuing response to our 1997 book, Jim Clark is remembered with admiration and affection, which is why Dove Publishing is going to release an ebook.

Instrumental in the career of the double world champion, Ford Director of Public Affairs, Walter Hayes was given news of Clark’s accident at Hockenheim, Germany as cars lined up for a race in Kent, England. "It was one of the very bad moments of my life, standing in the pits at Brands Hatch just as the BOAC 500 was going to start and hearing that Jimmy had died." Hayes had persuaded Ford Motor Company to create the Ford-Cosworth DFV engine and among its express purposes, besides giving Ford an exciting new image, was to win the world championship again for Jim Clark. Now he was dead of a broken neck.

Motor racing almost died of a broken heart.

The BOAC 500 was a cheerless affair. As the news filtered in, an entire generation slowly realised motor racing would never be the same again. It was more than the death of a driver; it was the end of an era. It was more than a squall following a storm. When Jim Clark died the whole climate of motor racing changed.

The Brands Hatch press box was incredulous. Incalculable grief descended like a pall. People who had never met Jim Clark felt a profound sense of loss. Those who knew him were stunned into disbelief. The car he died in was one of the first to bear the livery of a sponsor instead of traditional British racing green. Gold Leaf Team Lotus marked the arrival of a new force in motor racing, - big money. The fatal crash reaching the front pages of the world's newspapers showed the contrary side. Sponsors wanted to be associated with winning, not with the sudden death of a hero.
Jim Clark, press launch Lotus 49

As for Ford’s unfortunate F3L Alan Mann sports car, it did well in the BOAC 500, taking the lead for most of the first two hours, although it gave Bruce McLaren a rough ride on the uneven Brands Hatch track. When Mike Spence took over it broke a half-shaft and retired. It reappeared at the Nürburgring but crashed heavily, badly injuring Chris Irwin. "It was the only car I ever hated in my life, and the single big mistake I made in motor racing," said Hayes. "Alan Mann said he could do it and it would be cheap and we thought we needed to replace the GT40, which had been showing its years. We thought we needed to, although on reflection we didn't need to do anything in sports cars. They were in decline anyway. The GT40 years had been special, like a sort of military campaign. I killed that car out of sheer hatred."

Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman won narrowly in an out-dated Ford GT40.
Theories concerning Clark's accident ranged from freak gusts of wind to errant pedestrians a hypothesis of Derek Bell's, who was driving in the same race, on Clark’s misfiring engine. The explanation was explosive decompression of a tyre, throwing the car off course into the fatal tree. Investigation showed the tyre had lost pressure through a slow puncture, and although centrifugal force kept it in shape at speed in a straight line, side force in the long gentle curve caused the beading to loosen from the rim and drop into the well of the wheel. Clark was expecting difficulties on the slippery surface, but even he could not keep control. There was no safety barrier. Bob Martin, racing manager of Firestone, and Peter Jowitt of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) accident investigation branch examined every shred of evidence and came to the same conclusion.

When Clark was killed, the sport cried real tears. At his funeral Jim's father told his friend and rival, the smiling tall American Dan Gurney that he had been the only driver Jimmy truly feared. Gurney never forgot, but typically kept it to himself.

"It destroyed me, really, in terms of my self control," Gurney told me. "I was drowned in tears. To hear that from someone, whose son had been killed and wasn't there any longer, was more than I could cope with. For a long time I didn't say anything about it because I felt it was a private thing and I didn't want to utilise it to sort of glorify my driving ability or reputation. It was certainly the biggest compliment I ever received."

Jim Clark's long-time girl-friend Sally, married to Dutchman Ed Swart heard it on the car radio at Zandvoort in Holland. It was lead item on the news. "I thought how come they're mentioning a little Formula 2 race and Jim Clark. My Dutch wasn't very good but I knew he'd been injured. It didn't yet say he was dead. I wasn't sure. I rushed over to my father-in-law and asked what it meant. He went kind of white and had to tell me. I think by then I knew anyway."


Extract from Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion, available now from Amazon for Kindle and in Adobe ePub format from Waterstone's and Apple iTunes store.

Greatest Racing Driver Debate

Jim Clark (Lotus-Ford) Zandvoort, 1967 Greatest racing driver debates now would include Michael Schumacher, whose seven world championships eclipse Juan Manuel Fangio’s five, Alain Prost’s four or the three apiece of Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Picquet and Ayrton Senna. But in 1993, during a debate at the National Motor Museum Beaulieu, the vote went to one who raced before there was ever a formal world title, Tazio Giorgio Nuvolari. Above: The Sunday Times 28 February 1993. Click to enlarge. It’s different now of course. There are more races now than there were before. Drivers are technicians, more jet fighter pilots than Spitfire pilots, in computerised toboggans that wouldn’t fly without Playstation controls. Jensen Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel need a deeper understanding of electronics than the visual acuity, sense of balance or natural dexterity vital to drivers who changed gears in mechanical gearboxes and felt the attitude of a car through the seat of their pants. With 1970s technology it was relatively easy to get into a racing car and set a decent back-of-the-grid lap time. I did it myself. Getting on to the front row and racing wheel-to-wheel was different. That needed competitive spirit and raw courage to see where the limits were. You had to go beyond them to find out and that was risky. I wasn’t good at risk. Nuvolari was the bravest driver, which probably swung the jury at Beaulieu. Fangio, Clark and Senna didn’t need valour. They probably didn’t know themselves what made them so good. They just knew everybody else was slower. They could invoke that combination of hand, eye and cool detachment that remains inexplicable even to aviation medicine specialists who analyse aptitudes for space flight. It is what separates a decent back-of-the-grid lap time from a world champion. D-type Auto Union, final flower of the V12 mid-engined 2985cc car of the team Nuvolari drove for. Shown by Audi at a press launch in 2008, this is essentially a perfectly built replica of the Roots supercharged 1939 car, giving 485bhp @ 7000rpm.