April 4, 2014 (F1plus/Kate Hewitt).- In an era where driver fatalities were regular and safety measures were minimal, sprung the true heroes of Formula 1. The ones who fought against the odds and produced mind-blowing performances whilst their cars slid across a bumpy, uneven track. Their talents were the only things making a statement: Jim Clark was one of those men.
Notoriously known as the ‘quiet champion’, Jim was very reserved; but once in the car that all changed, he became confident and emphatic yet never fought against his car. Instead he just caressed it in a way that was breathtaking. A natural given talent.
He had an unbreakable concentration that lead him to 48 front row starts - 33 of which, were pole positions. And despite a recurring problem with unreliability, he still won a third of the races he entered, including a dominant display in Belgium during the 1963 season.
Jim never gave up, if things got too hectic in the media world he would return to his family farm - his place of tranquillity, his safe haven, if you like. This committed attitude translated in his race craft too. In 1967 a puncture in Monza dropped Jim from the lead to last place and a full lap down. However, determined to get points he came through the order progressively lowering the lap record until he emerged at the front once again. An incorrect amount of fuel forced the Scot to coast over the line in third - but an incredible third at that.
In the midst of Formula 1, Jim liked to take part in other racing events. He tried his hand out at rallying, NASCAR, BTCC and Le Mans 24 hours, but he truly loved participating in the Indy 500. Aside from American racing being so over the top, Jim enjoyed the challenge and came second in just his first attempt. He soon became a well known character worldwide, but despite the mass attention remained his level-headed and calm self.
Monza’s Curve Grande and Spa’s Eau Rouge are now taken like flat out bends, but back then the difficulty level was so much more. Grip levels were very low and in knife edge handling cars during wet conditions, these corners became lethal. Jim’s peers new just how good he was, and his partnership with Colin Chapman was well feared within the sport. They competed in an era where driver fatalities happened at almost every racing weekend, but no one expected it to happen to Jim. But it did.
Hockenheim, Germany - 7 April 1968.
What we take for granted in this modern era could have saved his life. Something Sir Jackie Stewart enforced after he lost another racer - another friend. It was not skill that left Jim at the Ostkurve, for it was luck. And it couldn’t have left him at a worse time.
Many are certain that a mechanical failure is responsible for his crash; they highly doubt his driving ability would be at fault. But pointing the finger doesn’t change what happened. An incident as tragic as any other helped define the future of the sport.
Jim joins that elite group of Formula 1 legends that will continuously live in the hearts of people for many more years. The Scottish sheep farmers son was a worldwide star. A memorial stone and statue are left at Hockenheim in memory of Jim, and a small museum in Duns was set up by Sir Jackie holding a large collection of Jim’s trophies and belongings.
‘Jimmy’ Clark: Scotland’s best, British legend, Global icon.
If you want to learn or see more of Jim, watch this TV documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v62StJvxLu8
Jim Clark holds the attack of Richie Ginther in the Briith GP of 1065. (LAT Photo)