Born in 1936 in rural Scotland near the English border, James Clarke Junior was an unassuming master of the sport. He grew up as a simple farm boy with four sisters and plenty of space to play. Jim’s first introduction to motor sport came in the form of books and magazines, which he read whilst attending a private school in Edinburgh. Unfortunately for Jim, his family didn’t share his enthusiasm and felt that vehicles should be used strictly for utilitarian purposes. Despite their objections, Jim Clarke found himself inexplicably drawn to the sport. Not long after getting his first car he started to compete in local rallies and driving skill tests. He was surprisingly good at it and soon his friends were goading him on to greater successes. Still, Jim found being the centre of attention rather embarrassing – especially since he felt guilty about going against his parent’s wishes. Still, his natural talent and passion was undeniable and before long, Jim Clark decided to take the sport more seriously.
His formal racing career took off with a bang when, in 1958, Clark was given a Lotus Elite coupe to race for the Brands Hatch race. Though he didn’t win, his skill behind the wheel caught the eye of Lotus founder Colin Chapman and he was invited to race a Lotus Formula Junior. Clark’s natural talent shone through from the start and before long he was made a part of Team Lotus for the 1960 Formula One season. Ironically, this start was also nearly the end of his career since during that season he narrowly avoided hitting the body of another driver and his friend and teammate was killed in an accident during one race. The disasters nearly put him off racing but instead he chose to hate Spa – a track where he went on to win four times in succession in later years.
Always the unassuming champion, this was not the only time that Clark was put off racing by the deaths caused by the sport. Still, developments in racing car designs kept him firmly in the driver’s seat and Clark spent four seasons driving for Lotus. The only races he didn’t win were mostly those wherein he suffered mechanical failures. His success was untouchable, but this didn’t go to his head. He never felt comfortable under the limelight and tried to stay out of it. He became an international champion after winning the Indianapolis 500 but his dreams for the future stayed at home on the family farm. Respected as both a driver and a sincere, humble and upright person, Jim Clark continued to be viewed as one of Scotland‘s greatest driving legends. Unfortunately on 7 April 1968, Clark’s Lotus had a tyre failure in an F2 race which resulted in his death. He was mourned by fans, family and friends as the heart and soul of racing and as a most likable and memorable individual.