Throughout the 60s a wee Scot dominated motorsport. He took part in 72 Formula One races of which he won 25 of them and qualified on pole for 33. He was a two time F1 World Champion as well as a winner of the British Touring Car Championship, the Indy 500 and the now defunct Tasman Formula Series. He was called Jim Clark and despite the fact he only wowed the world of racing for 8 not-so-long years he is considered as one of the greats.
Clark was signed up by Lotus in 1960 after John Surtees had decided to up sticks half way through the season and do a bit of motorcycle racing. It didn’t take long for Clark to get a good look at how his career would unfortunately end. During only his second Formula One race at Spa Chris Bristow and Jim’s team mate Alan Stacey were involved in two fatal accidents. Despite the fact he was admittedly “scared stiff” after seeing his compatriots lose their lives he managed to bring his Lotus home in a points scoring position. A clutch of point scoring finishes, as well as a podium in Portugal saw Clark finish the year in a respectable tenth place. This was supplemented by a fantastic third place finish for Clark and his Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers team at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The next season Clark continued to improve. This time he completed the entire eight race season, getting onto the bottom step of the podium twice and finishing seventh in Championship. In 1962 his stock rose even higher. Armed with the revolutionary Lotus 25 he engaged in a blood and guts battle with his good friend Graham Hill. Going into the final race of the season in South Africa Clark was still in with a chance of winning his first World Drivers Title, although he was a whole 9 points behind Hill. Clark qualified on pole but his efforts were in vain after an oil leak saw him retire 20 laps from the end allowing Hill to win the race and the Championship.
He wouldn’t have to wait long to reach the summit of the Formula One world though. ’63 saw Clark and Lotus in utterly dominant form. He trounced defending champ Graham Hill and the man he replaced at Lotus John Surtees, winning all but two races on his way to his maiden title. This was also the season where Clark drove one of his greatest ever races. In the typically wet conditions of the Ardennes he took to the grid at Spa in eighth. At half distance not only was he in the lead, but he had lapped the entire field except for second placed Bruce McLaren. Wee Jim managed to win the race with 5 minutes in hand over McLaren.
The next year Clark could only manage third in the standings, mainly due to a spate of late season retirements, but he made up for it by winning the British Touring Car Championship. In 1965 Clark was back to his old ways, not only did he win the Drivers’ title with three races to go but he did so by competing in less races than the other drivers. He sat out the Monaco Grand Prix so he could head across the pond and compete in the Indy 500. Jim, who didn’t care for the glitz and glamour that punctuated American motor racing, had competed twice before but never won. That year he put that right, becoming the first and only man to secure the F1 World Championship and Indianapolis 500 in the same year. Clark didn’t stop there. He went down under to compete in the Tasman Formula and won the first of his three titles in the series that year too.
In ’66 Lotus found themselves struggling to compete and consequently Clark could only manage sixth in the standings. In 1967 Lotus’ partnership with Ford began to bear fruit and Clark was once again competing for the title. His most glorious moment of what would be his final full year in Formula One didn’t come in either Holland, Britain, the US or Mexico, all of which he won but at Monza. After suffering a puncture early on and having to pit Clark was lapped. He rejoined the race in 16th and set about unlapping himself. He did. Then he set about taking the lead. He did. Clark was first going into the final lap but bad luck struck again and he ran out of fuel. He had to settle for third but the performance alone was worthy of the top step on the podium.
Clark won the first race of the 1968 season in South Africa before heading to Hockenheim to take part in a Formula Two race. On the fifth lap a deflating rear tyre meant he lost control of his car and crashed into the trees lining the race track. He suffered severe injuries and died on the way to the hospital. He was 32.