Friday, April 7, 2017

Jim Clark Dies In Crash At Hockenheim - April 7, 1968

March 4, 1936 - April 7, 1968
Jim Clark
(Photo; www.bbc.co.uk)
Born in Kilmany, Fife, Scotland.
Clark was a versatile driver who competed in sports cars, touring cars and in the Indianapolis 500, which he won in 1965. He dominated Formula One racing in the mid-1960s and was particularly associated with the Lotus with whom he won two World Championships, in 1963 and 1965. He competed in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1959, 1960 and 1961, finishing second in class in 1959 driving a Lotus Elite, and finishing third overall in 1960, driving an Aston Martin DBR1. Clark even took part in a NASCAR event, driving a 7 litre Holman Moody Ford at the American 500 at Rockingham in 1967.
He was killed in a Formula Two motor racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany on April 7, 1968. He was originally slated to drive in the BOAC 1000 km sportscar race at Brands Hatch, but instead chose to drive in the Deutschland Trophäe, a Formula Two race, for Lotus at the Hockenheimring, primarily due to contractual obligations with Firestone. Although the race has sometimes been characterized as a "minor race meeting" the entry list was impressive with top-running Matras for the French drivers Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo, Tecnos for Carlo Facetti and Clay Regazzoni, Team Brabhams for Derek Bell and Piers Courage, a Ferrari for Chris Amon and McLarens for Graeme Lawrence and Robin Widdows. Team Lotus drivers Graham Hill and Clark were in Gold Leaf Team Lotuses and a young Max Mosley was also in the race, moving up from the Clubman series. The event was run in two heats. On the fifth lap of the first heat, Clark's Lotus 48 veered off the track and crashed into the trees. He suffered a broken neck and skull fracture, and died before reaching the hospital. The cause of the crash was never definitively identified, but investigators concluded it was most likely due to a deflating rear tyre. Clark's death affected the racing community terribly, with fellow Formula One drivers and close friends Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Chris Amon and Jack Brabham all being personally affected by the tragedy. People came from all over the world to Clark's funeral. Colin Chapman was devastated and publicly stated that he had lost his best friend. The 1968 F1 Drivers' Championship was subsequently won by his Lotus teammate Graham Hill, who pulled the heartbroken team together and held off Jackie Stewart for the crown, which he later dedicated to Clark.

At the time of his death, he had won more Grand Prix races (25) and achieved more Grand Prix pole positions (33) than any other driver. In 2009, The Times placed Clark at the top of a list of the greatest-ever Formula One drivers.

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