Jim Clark raced his Sunbeam Mark III and Ian Scott Watson’s DKW, picking up class wins at Brunton in the north of England. In June 1957 he sprinted the DKW at Charterhall, then in September surprisingly beat a new Austin-Healey 100/6 with the Sunbeam.
Convinced of his protégé’s talent Scott-Watson sold the DKW and bought the Porsche 1600 Super that had belonged to Billy Cotton, the Band Show leader. It was entered in the inaugural Border Motor Racing Club meeting in October and Clark came third in the production sports car handicap, second in the production touring car handicap and won the BMRC Trophy race.
It was another milestone in Clark’s career. It showed that given equipment like the Porsche he was a winner. It also demonstrated that applause could be unexpectedly subdued. He had won in Scott-Watson’s car, at a meeting largely organised by Scott-Watson who arranged the handicapping system, promoted by a club in which Scott-Watson was prominent. Few people believed how immense the talent on display really was. The main race contained the fastest five finishers of all the other races; furthermore when it rained only Clark beat his handicap.
In the long run it was obvious there had been no deceit. It was down to driving, even though he was characteristically careful to credit the car: “The Porsche was fabulous in the wet, enabling me to beat the Healey 100 S-types which I would not have expected to,” he asserted later, although privately he knew quite well that the success had been largely his own.
Clark still regarded Porsches as potentially lethal. Peter Hughes, who had driven for Ecurie Ecosse and was editor of Top Gear, the magazine of the Scottish Sporting Car Club, died driving his returning from the 1957 Le Mans only weeks before Jim’s triumph at Charterhall. Porsches had not relinquished their Volkswagen ancestry. They were at best quirky, at worst unpredictable. The 1600S was capable of over 100mph and notwithstanding its shortcomings in the BMRC Trophy, Clark could easily gain an entire lap on his friend Jimmy Somervail in a Ford Zephyr.
Clark finished the season with a sprint at Winfield, but for him motor sport was still firmly a hobby. There was no question of becoming a professional racing driver and during 1957’s petrol rationing following the Suez crisis, Scott-Watson acquired a Goggomobil. Jim Clark drove the 395cc 2-stroke at an MG Car Club autotest and came second in the under 1,300cc class. Yet he fumbled briefly in the Sunbeam. He had to concede second place to a new driver who would in due course earn great respect. Logan Morrison, who became a Rover works rally driver, beat him in a Singer Gazelle.
It was 1964 before I got to grips with a Porsche like the one Clark drove. When I joined the road test staff of The Motor I compiled the report on a 1600SC. Its 95bhp doesn’t sound much now but 112mph felt quick in a small wieldy coupe with the engine at the wrong end. It was years before Porsches shed their eccentricity. Americans especially didn’t feel they were getting their money’s worth in a sports car unless it felt dangerous and difficult. The heading picture was done at Goodwood by the delightful Maurice Rowe, with whom I often worked. We drove to the Sussex track for one of Jackie Stewart’s very first test sessions with Ken Tyrell’s Cooper team.
Tyrrell couldn’t wait to sign him up. Ever astute, Stewart held back. If Ken Tyrrell was making him a tempting offer he must be quite good. Jackie’s older brother Jimmy had driven for Ecurie Ecosse and Jaguar’s celebrated competitions manager FRW “Lofty” England wanted to pair him with Mike Hawthorn for the works team at Le Mans. Race driving might be a family talent and younger brothers might even be better than their elders. He was right.
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