Jim Clark OBE - racing driver
Created | Updated Oct 10, 2002
One of the all time great Formula One racing drivers, Jim Clark won 25 of his 72 F1 races and won the world championship on two occasions, as well as winning the Indianapolis 500.
Jim Clark was born on 14th April 1936 on the family farm in Kilmany, Fife, Scotland. At the age of six he and his family moved to Edington Mains near Duns, in the Scottish borders. A childhood fascination with fast cars led him to join the Berwick and District Motor Club as a teenager.
In 1956 Clark competed in his first motor race at Crimond Airfield, near Aberdeen. Despite finishing last, he persevered, and achieved his first major success the following year when he won the Border Motor Racing Club Trophy in a Porsche 1600 Super.
Clark continued to improve throughout the closing years of the 1950s, and caught the attention of the Aston Martin Formula One team, who signed him up early in 1960, although he never drove for the team - they withdrew from the competition before the season began, and Clark moved to the Lotus F1 team, having already driven for them in Formula Junior and Formula Two.
His first Formula One race was the 1960 Dutch Grand Prix, alongside such legendary drivers as Graham Hill and Stirling Moss, but Clark failed to finish the race due to a gearbox problem. The second Grand Prix, in Belgium, was more successful as Clark finished fifth and scored his first points, although the race was marred by the fatal crash of his Lotus team-mate Alan Stacey. By the end of his first season, Clark had achieved his first podium finish (third place at the Portuguese Grand Prix) and scored 8 championship points, finishing in eighth place in the world championship.
The 1961 season was not much more successful. Clark secured another two third place finishes and came joint seventh in the championship, but his season was tarnished by an accident involving himself and German driver Wolfgang von Trips - the two drivers collided during the Italian Grand Prix and von Trips' car careered off the circuit, killing the driver and fourteen spectators.
An improved car combined with Clark's increasing experience to produce more success in the 1962 season. He won his first championship Grand Prix in Belgium, as well as the British Grand Prix, to finish second in the world championship behind Graham Hill. The promise shown in the 1962 season came to fruition the following year, when Clark won the drivers' championship, taking first place in seven of the season's ten races. 1963 also saw Clark compete in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, controversially finishing second behind Parnelli Jones, who many thought should have been disqualified for dropping oil onto the track.
After a disappointing 1964, Clark fought back to win both the F1 championship and the Indianapolis 500 in 1965. An under powered car put paid to his chances in 1966; 1967 was somewhat better but Clark could only finish third in the championship, despite four race wins.
1968 started promisingly, with Clark winning the South African Grand Prix in January. However the year's early promise came to an abrupt end during an unimportant Formula Two race at Hockenheim, Germany on April 7th. Clark, who had never had a major accident in his career, lost control of his Lotus on a damp track and crashed into trees at over 140 mph. He was killed instantly.
The memory of Jim Clark is kept alive in his home town of Duns by an annual memorial rally and a museum, the Jim Clark Room, which houses a large number of Clark's trophies, as well as an impressive display of photographs and memorabilia from Clark's career. The museum is generally open from March to October each year, and can be found at 44 Newtown Street, Duns, Berwickshire.