During a recent conversation with a friend of mine about great historic racing cars and the drivers that made them great we came upon the legend that is Jim Clark.
It was always going to be difficult coming up with a top ten, there are so many great names and marques to choose from. It should have been no surprise that Jim Clark featured so highly on both our lists, especially considering how many career highlights he had before his untimely death.
We argued about his relationship with Lotus. Clark was lucky to escape death after colliding with von Trips Ferrari at Monza in 1961 yet Clark went on to claim the first of Lotus’ World Championships in 1963 at the wheel of a Lotus 25, winning seven out of ten races that season. That was great, but what he did at Indy was even more remarkable.
In 1965, after some unsuccessful attempts and unlucky mechanical failures he won the Indy 500 and The F1 World Title at the hands of a Lotus 38. He is the only driver to ever win the double in the same year. He also won three titles in the Tasman F1 series, run for older cars whilst challenging for F1 honours – a record for the series. Can you imagine today’s F1 drivers competing in two series in the same year and winning both of them?
As if that wasn’t enough Clark was perhaps even more fabled for his exploits in a works Lotus-Cortina in which he competed in and won the 1964 British Touring Car Championship (pictured above).
He would have won the RAC Rally of Great Britain had it not been for a crash near to the end. Clark was able to adapt to any car he drove with ease and mastery.
He had often commented on why he found it difficult to understand why other drivers weren’t as quick as him.
Clark’s stats and results speak for themselves but perhaps his greatest achievement was to be a man that was universally held in high regard by all his peers and his devoted fans.
He was a gentleman, a racing driver of unparalleled talent and gave us some of the most memorable motor racing moments of all time. Who can fails to marvel at the footage of him four wheel drifting his Cortina with one arm hanging out of the window? Genius.