The best driver of all-time? Amid the case being put for Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, or Ayrton Senna and Manuel Fangio, one man’s declare to that title can be strengthened on Sunday when his achievements are remembered through the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
It’s 60 years since Jim Clark first received the British Grand Prix, the spotlight of a season which noticed him win in Belgium, Holland, France, UK — all back-to-back — in addition to Italy, Mexico and South Africa.
Second in Germany and third within the US, the one Grand Prix he didn’t take factors in was the opener in Monaco, when he needed to retire whereas main on the 78th lap due to gear-box failure.
He dominated his residence grand prix within the Sixties, successful it in 4 instances in a row from 1962 to 1965, then once more in 1967. He received his second World Championship in 1965 — the 12 months he additionally triumphed within the Indianapolis 500.
In 1963, this son of a farmer received seven races out of 10. Solely Senna received extra, with eight within the 1988 season and that was over 16 races.
Jim Clark on his technique to victory on the 1963 British Grand Prix at Silverstone through the 12 months during which he received the primary of his two world championships
Clark with the trophy for successful the British Grand Prix 60 years in the past – his legacy as certainly one of F1’s most interesting drivers can be remembered at Silverstone on Sunday
Clark competed at a time when drivers had been far much less protected of their vehicles than they’re as we speak. The braveness demonstrated by the Scot and his friends as they reached extraordinary speeds was off the dimensions.
Throughout Clark’s 1963 season, Cedric Selzer was certainly one of 5 mechanics chargeable for his Lotus.
‘Jim was the quickest, bravest and finest driver I’ve ever seen,’ says the South African, 86.
‘It would not appear to be it was 60 years in the past when he was ruling the world. My reminiscences of him are nonetheless recent. He was the most effective. I could not have labored with a greater driver.’
‘Out of the automobile he was a really totally different character, very indecisive and really nervous on the open highway when he wasn’t driving. I have been in a automobile with him when he was a passenger and at 70 miles an hour he was biting his fingernails. He was an odd combination of characters.’
Selzer remembers how Clark was initially the second-rated driver at Lotus behind his fellow Scot, Innes Eire, who received the USA Grand Prix in 1961.
The flamboyant Eire and the shy, motor-racing obsessed Clark didn’t all the time see eye to eye.
‘Innes was some character, however he was out of the Lotus crew on the finish of that 1961 season as a result of crew boss Colin Chapman thought Jim was a greater driver and he was appropriate for my part,’ says Selzer.
Clark’s eight years driving for Lotus in F1 featured 25 race wins and 32 podium finishes
The Scottish racing driver pictured on the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix, simply two years earlier than his loss of life in a System Two accident at Hockenheim
‘Innes held a grudge in opposition to Jim for the remainder of his days due to it and thought he had stabbed him within the again, which most positively was not true.
‘Jim had nothing to do with Innes being let go. Innes lived life to the total and possibly wasn’t as devoted as he may have been and Chapman did not take kindly to that. He knew, and I knew, that Jim was the sooner and extra pure driver.’
In 1962, Selzer largely labored on the Lotus automobile of Trevor Taylor, solely working for Clark on the 2000 Guineas at Mallory Park.
Issues may have turned out otherwise for the mechanic earlier than the 1963 season if he had taken up an choice to work with Lotus in America. He determined as a substitute to journey the world with the Scot.
Clark returns to the Lotus storage after successful the Belgian Grand Prix in 1963
‘It wasn’t motor-racing causes that swung my choice to go together with Jim,’ says Selzer, with a glint in his eye.
‘Let’s simply say I used to be younger and had a very good social life round London that I did not need to quit. I did not need to be caught within the States on a regular basis and knew that, if I stayed with Jim, I may come residence to London between World Championship races to proceed my social life.’
Clark didn’t begin the 1963 F1 season effectively in Monaco, however had an important June, successful the Belgian, Dutch and French grands prix, along with his well-known Silverstone victory making it 4 wins in a row.
John Surtees received the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, with Clark in second, earlier than the Scot bounced again with a victory in Italy that secured the World Championship title.
Graham Hill received the subsequent race at Watkins Glen within the US, with Clark third, earlier than he rounded issues off with wins in Mexico and South Africa.
Clark was now a world celebrity and his exploits earned Selzer and the remainder of the mechanics a pleasant little bonus.
‘We had been advised we had been going to get a Mini every, which was all the fashion, however we ended up with a Ford that I bought to purchase an engagement ring for my fiancee on the time,’ he says.
Clark speaks with Lotus chief Colin Chapman within the pits on the German Grand Prix in 1965
A gathering of racing minds on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1966 as Clark (proper) chats to Graham Hill (left) and Jackie Stewart (centre)
‘I used to be incomes £12.50 per week and I may nearly get by on that. We additionally obtained 10 per cent of the prize cash. For successful a world championship race, the primary prize was £750, so we obtained £75 further as mechanics, however that was divided amongst these concerned with Jim’s automobile and the Indy crew within the US.
‘We obtained a few of the Indy crew prize-money as effectively, so possibly I obtained £15 further when Jim received a Grand Prix in 1963.
‘We weren’t there for the cash or bonuses, that wasn’t needed. We had been all there to win motor races. Modified days now as motor racing is so company.
‘Once we had been doing it, it was beginner motor racing, with some cash thrown at it, however these days are lengthy gone.’
Clark was often known as a shy man who didn’t undergo fools gladly. Though Selzer labored with him on and off over 4 years, the Borderer didn’t let his guard down a lot, though the point out of aeroplanes and ghosts helped break the silence.
‘Jim was a gentleman,’ he says. ‘I’ve simply been studying Senna’s e-book and I realised that, though they had been each naturally gifted drivers and a few say Jim was the Senna of the 60s, they had been very totally different characters. Jim cherished driving whereas Senna had extra of a win-at-all-costs mentality.
‘Jim was a cool character and, if there was a drama, he simply went with the movement, allow us to kind out the issue as mechanics, by no means complained about something.
‘He was a tough man to get near as he wasn’t into small speak a lot however we did, often, have some fascinating conversations outdoors of racing.
Clark’s Lotus, in British racing inexperienced, pictured on the Netherlands GP at Zandvoort in 1961
‘Some individuals who did not know him in addition to I did thought he was a recluse, however that wasn’t true. He was sociable when he wished to be.
‘He cherished airplanes, he had a pilot’s licence and, if ever I discussed flying to Jim, he was off speaking about planes, anyplace, anytime.
‘I additionally bear in mind Jim speaking about how he thought he had seen a ghost on the finish of his mattress on the household farm within the Borders.
‘He mentioned when he wakened one morning he requested his mom why she had been on the finish of his mattress through the night time. She mentioned she hadn’t. It occurred once more a couple of weeks later and he referred to as the apparition the White Woman. He was positive he had seen a ghost.’
Selzer remained in motor racing after he left Lotus however knew he would by no means work with one other driver nearly as good as Clark.
‘We had the most effective automobile and the most effective driver. Everyone anticipated Jim to win due to his pure expertise. If we got here second, it was a bitter disappointment. We had been all so psyched up; we had been invincible. That was the perspective of the crew, particularly in 1963.’
Clark and Chapman within the Ford-powered Lotus that received the Indy 500 race in 1965
Even the Silverstone triumph was thought to be simply one other race. ‘We had been on pole place and, though Jim was handed off the road initially, he obtained again in entrance and received.
‘I bear in mind all of the euphoria when Jim received that race within the stands, there have been over 110,000 there on the day. The crew had been joyful and backslapping for possibly 15 seconds, however then we went again to work.
‘We have received, so now transfer on. We had been so targeted that successful the British Grand Prix was only a step on the highway for what all of us wished, to win the 1963 World Championship.’
Selzer was working for an additional crew when he heard of Clark’s tragic loss of life at Hockenheim in Germany in 1968. The Scot was solely 32 years previous.
‘I used to be devastated, as was everyone who knew him,’ he says. ‘Everyone knew how nice a driver Jim was in that period.
‘After I met Juan Manuel Fangio, the very first thing he mentioned to me about Jimmy’s accident was that one thing should have damaged behind his automobile, as a result of if it had been on the entrance then Jim would have had the flexibility to drive out of it.
‘After which he mentioned that Jimmy was the best driver ever. No query, even 60 years on.’