Who was Jim Clark?

Jim Clark, a fallen F1 Icon

Upon the inauguration of the sporting race series in the year 1950, Formula One has become the most loved and famous racing sport of all time. With the sport just starting and regulations yet to be improved, the 50s era was characterized by a shortage of proper precautionary measures for the racing drivers. Quite a lot of accidents and a number of drivers died in road accidents whilst racing as their cars weren’t fully conditioned for the driver’s safety. Unlike in the modern day, where at the heart of Formula One racing and FIA is the safety of the drivers. Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart once alluded that the driver who used to race in the 60s period and early 70s period was more prone to suffer due to the weaker regulations. He further stated that each driver had a two out of three chance of dying. And such was the perilous era of one of the Lotus legends, if not the person who carried Formula One on his back, yet a fallen icon, Jim Clark. If his misfortune didn’t befall on him, one wonders what he could have achieved in his lifetime.

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Jim Clark was nicknamed the “Unexpected F1 driver”. Being born in 1936, Clark was the only and youngest son in his family. His passion for racing was birthed way back when he used to race in road rallies, hill climbs, and other local racing events at a very young age which would enhance his growth, knowledge, and experience in the race series. As a result of starting at humble beginnings, Clark won 18 races in various of the aforementioned events.  Scott Watson who was Clark’s captain was highly impressed with his skill set, and he would often lend Clark expensive cars such as Porche, and he ended up lending him the Lotus Elite.

In 1959, Clark was offered a place in the Formula Junior as his skills kept impressing those that mattered the most. As expected, Clark delivered the goods, becoming the winner of the first-ever Formula Junior race. Jim Clark’s second ever grand prix was at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit and Clark would finish the race series in the fifth place amid the two accidents that he witnessed. In spite of the points that he won, he won his first podium at the Portuguese Grand Prix, where he finished third. The 1962 Belgian Grand Prix victory was Clark’s first win, immediately winning his second one. 

The legendary Clark went on to win his first world Championship in the 1963 edition, also setting up an insane record that would only be broken 21 years later-seven pole positions from the seven out of the ten races that he won. Clark would also go on to grab his second championship at the 1965 edition of the race series. In 1965, he also won the Indy 500 race, becoming the only driver that won the Indianapolis 500 and the World Championship in the same season.

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As a result of the new FIA regulations concerning 3 liter engines functionalizing in the race series, this put Lotus in a very tight place and 1966 proved to be a very uncompetitive year for the reigning champions. In 1967, Jim Clark resurfaced as a formidable contender for the title, however the Lotus livery had mechanical issues and would henceforth hinder his third successive world title. Clark ended up dying in a fatal accident in 1968 when he was attending a F2 racing event. 

Jim Clark was arguably the best F1 driver of his era, having set incredible records which are still unbeaten to date. He still holds the record for most races with pole, win, the fastest lap and leading every lap-8. He also holds the record for the highest percentage of laps in the lead in a season, he has 71.47% in the 1963 season. Jim Clark only entered 73 races in his career, and he won 25 of them.  His incredible win percentage is 34.25% slightly behind that of Lewis Hamilton who is at 35.36%. Clark also shares the second place for most consecutive wins at the same Grand Prix in history (four). The Lotus legend is also the fifth-best overall in regard to total pole positions in his career (33 pole positions achieved at 45.21% of all races entered).

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