Jim Clark: tribute and reflection

Remembering Jim Clark

By: Jake Rajala

The F1 legend Jim Clark was born in 1936 – a year after Elvis Presley was born. Clark was certainly a great ball of fire at a young age, as he raced in local road rallies and hill climb events – contrary to his parents view on racing. The speed racer-like character tasted his first F1 race at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix, which was featured at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Clark wasn’t a popular or successful face in his first couple of seasons, but he was involved in a very tragic incident at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix. Wolfgang Von Trips intensely collided with Clark’s hot-rod and then Von Trips’s Ferrari shockingly went airborne and hit a barrier – as Trips (33 years old) AND 13 spectators were pronounced dead. It was certainly the deadliest accident in F1 history.

Clark won his first race at the 1962 Belgian GP and he didn’t look back. He won seven races in 1963 – which was a historically unmatched number of wins in a season until 1984 (when Alain Prost won seven races). The British F1 driver would go on to win the 1963 world championship and the 1965 world championship.

The mythical, Lotus driver was preparing to extend his dominance in 1968. He won the first GP and he decided to drive in a Formula Two race in Hockenheim prior to the second GP. It would be an understatement to say the world strangely and heart-breakingly lost a sports icon in the Hockenheim event – as Clark suffered a fatal accident. Clark’s vehicle skidded off the track at 170 MPH and somersaulted around five times into trees.

The gifted, mythical F1 driver is regarded as one of the top F1 drivers of all time by Top Gear. His special friend, Sir Jackie Stewart, as a tremendous quote about his beloved friend, “Jim Clark was everything I aspired to be, as a racing driver and as a man. We weren’t jet-set like people thought. Jim was a farmer from the borders and I was a glorified mechanic from Dumbuck. We weren’t fancy folk. It was a serious life, we were doing an intense amount of racing. Being on the podium with Jimmy and sharing an apartment with him .. people called us Batman and Robin. There was never any doubt which one was which.”

It’s clear that Clark wasn’t only a unique driver that had a career cut short, but he was a gifted soul that had his life taken away too soon.

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