James "Jim" (or "Jimmy") Clark, Jr OBE (born 4 March 1936 in Kilmany, Scotland – died 7 April 1968 in Hockenheim, Germany) was a British Formula One driver who won the 1963 and 1965 world championships. He is generally consided to be one of Formula One's best-ever drivers, whose early and tragic death at just 32 years old in a Formula Two race in Hockenheim in 1968 shocked the world. He drove for Lotus for his entire Formula One career.
He holds the records for most Grand Chelems, with eight.
Formula One Career[edit | edit source]
Pre-Formula One[edit | edit source]
Clark took part in local events, such as road rallies and hillclimb events. He started in 1956. In 1958, Clark joined the local racing team, Border Reivers to compete in National events.
1960[edit | edit source]
Clark began his Formula One career midway through the 1960 season, serving as a replacement for John Surtees of Lotus. Surtees had left Formula One to race motorcycles, but would later return with the Lola racing team. Clark was unable to complete his debut race in the Netherlands, after he suffered a transmission failure on lap 42 of the event.
He entered his second Formula One event in Belgium, where he would witness one of the most tragic races the sport's history. On lap 19 of the race, Chris Bristow lost control of his car and crashed off of the track. Clark was close to the accident and was able to avoid impact with the body of Bristow, but got a large amount of blood on his car. A few laps later, teammate and personal friend Alan Stacey was sent off of the track in the same corner after being struck in head by a bird. Both Bristow and Stacey died.
"I was driving scared stiff pretty much all through the race" - Jim Clark
Clark was traumatized by this experience and considered ending his own career. After some influence by fellow drivers, family and friends, Clark decided to continue his career. Although would become quite successful at Spa-Francochamps, he would forever hate the track.
He would gain his first podium finish later that season in Portugal, finishing almost a whole minute behind Bruce McLaren. This gave Clark enough points to earn 10th position in the World Championship.
1961[edit | edit source]
Clark rejoined Lotus for the 1961 season, alongside his new teammate Innes Ireland. This would be Clark's first complete season in Formula One. He had high hopes as he earned two podium finishes in the Dutch Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix.
However, Clark again witnessed tragedy in Italy. On the first lap of the event, Clark made contact with Wolfgang von Trips. This sent von Trips' car airborne off the track and into spectators. He was ejected from the car and killed instantly. In the accident, 15 spectators were killed. Clark was uninjured, but felt the accident was his fault.
Clark again considered quitting the sport, but was persuaded by the team designer, Colin Chapman to stay. This tragedy added Italy to his list of hated tracks. He entered the next and final race of the season, but was unable to earn any points. This placed him in 7th position for the championship.
1962[edit | edit source]
Clark returned to Lotus for the 1962 season, alongside fellow British racing driver, Trevor Taylor. The first race of the season did not go as well as the team had hoped, Clark not finishing in the points. However, Taylor finished on the podium in second position.
The following race at Monaco was a career milestone for Clark, as he managed to earn the first pole position on his career. This was the first of six pole positions that he would earn in the season. Clark also managed to set the fastest time of the day, but was forced to retire after a clutch failure near the halfway point of the race. Clark witnessed his fourth death in the sport, after track marshal, Ange Baldoni was killed by a tyre that had fell off of Taylor's car. Although this death was not as traumatic for Clark, he was quite emotional once he had learned about the death.
Clark snatched another career milestone at the next race in Belgium, after he won the first race in his Formula One career. He had an amazing lead, as he was over 44 seconds ahead of Graham Hill. Despite his hatred towards the track, this would be an event that he would win the next three times.
The 1962 season was a great season for Clark, clenching two more wins at Britain and the United States. The season was also full of milestones, as Clark gained his first of eight Grand Chelems in Britain.
Clark was set to win his first World Championship when disaster struck in South Africa. He had earned the pole position for the race, had led all laps of the race and put in the fastest time. However with only 20 laps remaining, an oil leak put Clark's car out of the running. This allowed Graham Hill to take the lead, and win the championship by 12 points. Although this wasn't a championship win, this was Clark's best finish in his career.
1963[edit | edit source]
The 1963 marked the domination of Clark and Lotus. He was off to an amazing start to the season at Monaco, qualifying for the pole position. Unfortunately, he dropped down to eighth position and was unable to score any points.
However, a winning streak would be made at the next four races, managing to win at Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Britain. He was also able to gain two additional Grand Chelems at both the Netherlands and France. Fans thought the winning streak would continue, but they were wrong. Even though Clark had earned the pole for the German Grand Prix, but the loss an engine cylinder gave John Surtees the opportunity to pass him for the win.
After his second place finish in Germany, he went right back into winning races. He then won the Italian Grand Prix, as well as the final two races of the season in Mexico and South Africa. His win in Mexico also added to his Grand Chelem list, giving him a total of five.
Clark had won seven out of the ten races in the 1963 season, giving him a staggering 25 point lead over Graham Hill and crowning him the 1963 World Champion. This was his first World Championship win since he joined Formula One in 1960.
1964[edit | edit source]
Again with Lotus, Clark would not have a consistent teammate for the 1964 season and would have to race alongside a few different drivers. To start off the season, Clark had earned his third consecutive pole position in 1964 Monaco Grand Prix, but would finish the event in fourth position.
Clark's domination returned, winning in the Netherlands, Belgium and Britain. However, a mechanical failure in France would not allow these wins to be consecutive. These wins were followed by a series of various mechanical failures that would force Clark to retire from another three races.
Clark would again lose his championship to an oil leak late in the race at Mexico. This repeat of the 1962 season meant that he would only finish in third position for the Drivers' Championship, missing second place by only a point.
1965[edit | edit source]
Clark began the 1965 season with Lotus, alongside Mike Spence. During the season, he was also participating in the Tasman Series. He managed to beat the record for the most wins in Tasman racing, with 14 wins.
The Formula One season began in South Africa, where he earned another Grand Chelem. He was unable to compete in Monaco because he had entered into the Indianapolis 500. There he would make history, being the first and only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One World Championship in the same year.
When he returned to Formula One for the Belgian Grand Prix, he began a winning streak that would allow him to win this and four other events. Of his wins, France and Germany gave him two more Grand Chelems. These would be the last of his career, but would allow him to surpass Alberto Ascari's Grand Chelem record by three.
Because of his massive winning streak, Clark was able to take home the Championship by 14 points. This was the second World Championship win of his career, but would also be the last.
1966[edit | edit source]
At the beginning of the 1966 season, the FIA's new regulations made Lotus less competitive than in other seasons. This meant that Clark would not be as successful as he had been in previous seasons. It wasn't until Lotus switched from using Climax engines to the new BRM engines that Clark began to regain his success.
However, he was only able to finish three out of the nine races that season. He only win in the United States we a drop in the bucket compared to his past seasons. This left him out of the running for the championship title, with a sixth place finish.
Although unsuccessful in Formula One that season, Clark had managed to earn a second place finish in the Indianapolis 500 that year.
1967[edit | edit source]
Despite issues the season before, Clark agreed to return to Lotus once again. He began the season racing a BRM engine, but opted to use an old Climax engine after an engine failure in South Africa. He would only stay with a Climax engine for one race however, as Lotus signed a deal with Ford to use the Ford Cosworth.
This engine proved to be treating Clark better, as he chalked up his first win of the season in the Netherlands. He then earned the pole position in Belgium, but was forced to pit early in the race to get a spark plug changed. This cost him two minutes and he eventually finished a lap behind the leaders.
Three more wins and another podium finish brought Clark to third place in the World Championship. While racing in Formula One, Clark also took part in the Tasman racing series with Lotus. There he claimed his second Tasman series championship.
1968[edit | edit source]
He began the Formula One season with a bang, getting the pole position and victory at the first race of the season in South Africa. However a tragedy would prevent him from completing the season.
Death[edit | edit source]
On the 7th of April 1968, was racing a Formula Two Lotus car in the Deutschland Trophäe at the Hockenheimring. He was teamed with Graham Hill. He had previously chosen to race in a sportscar race at Brands Hatch, but changed his mind.
While racing in the event, Clark's car left the track and struck a tree on the fifth lap. He died of a fatal head and neck injury enroute to the hospital. His death showed drivers that bad things happen, no matter how good you are.
"If it could happen to him, what hope did the rest of us have?" – Chris Amon
Lotus launched a private investigation to discover the cause of the accident, hiring aircraft crash investigators. The investigation uncovered that the accident was most likely caused by a rear deflating tyre and not because of driver error.
"Deaths in the sport were a regular occurrence in those days, but surely someone of Clark's sublime talent and skill? People reckoned that the rear tyre had deflated, and there is another theory that the mechanical metering unit on the Cosworth FVA engine had seized and caused Clark to crash." – Andrew Marriott, Motor Sport journalist
Formula One Statistical Overview[edit | edit source]
F1 Career History[edit | edit source]
|Year||Entrant||Team(s)||WDC Pts||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1960||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||8 pts||10th||Report|
|1961||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||11 pts||7th||Report|
|1962||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||30 pts||2nd||Report|
|1963||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||54 (73) pts||1st||Report|
|1964||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||32 pts||3rd||Report|
|1965||Team Lotus||Lotus-Climax||54 pts||1st||Report|
|1968||Team Lotus||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||9 pts||11th||Report|
Statistics[edit | edit source]
|Front Row Starts||48|
|Distance Raced||21348.993 km (13266 mi)|
|Distance Led||10109.579 km (6282 mi)|
Wins[edit | edit source]
Career Results[edit | edit source]
|Complete Formula One results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)||DNS||Did not start|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||[+] More Symbols|
Notes[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
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