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Jim Clark Trust: Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Jim Clark’s First Championship

Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Meghana Sree

Photo Credits: Bernard Cahier via Getty Images

Jim Clark is a legendary racing driver, who raced in some of the cruellest conditions back in the early 60’s of F1.

During his time in F1, he cemented his name in history with the incredible racing achievements he accomplished, and by the raw talent he possessed in all racing conditions.

He won 25 times, landed on the podium 32 times, and became the first driver to win both the Indy 500 and the F1 World Championship in the same year. 2023 marks the 60th anniversary since he won his first ever World Championship back in 1963.

Jim Clark’s Indy 500 winning car from 1965.

Looking Back on the Legend

The Scot was born in 1936 in a small village called Kilmany, Fife. He was the youngest child and the only boy within his siblings.

Six years after Clark was born, the family moved to Edington Mains Farm near Duns, where he spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence growing up.

By the age of ten he was behind the wheel of tractors on his farm and whenever given the chance, he would drive his dad’s car around the farm and onlookers would report of a ‘driverless’ car going around the field. He enjoyed working on the family farm, but loved driving even more, even though he didn’t ever dream of becoming a racing driver.

But watching one race at Brands Hatch would change that. Little did the world know that an F1 great was in the making and in a decade’s time, he would be creating records that no other driver has ever matched.

Clark has had success all throughout his racing career. Before he became an F1 driver, Clark competed for the local Border Reivers team for Ian Scott-Watson where he raced Jaguars and Porsches in national events.

He won 18 races and later that year he raced in the GT event at Brands Hatch where he came second, behind Colin Chapman. This started a life-long friendship between the pair and was one of the reasons Clark joined Lotus.

Jim Clark winning the British Grand Prix in 1963. Photo Credits: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Clark took home his first World Championship back in 1963 in his Lotus type 25, after winning an astounding seven races out of the ten. Clark won with a 25-point lead over Graham Hill.

The Scotsman dominated that season with a four race-win streak in Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Britain. The streak sadly ended during the German Grand Prix. Clark qualified on pole for this race but due to a loss of an engine cylinder, he ended up finishing second and therefore lost his streak to John Surtees.

Celebrating the Legend

The weekend of 24th June was the 60th anniversary since Clark took his first ever F1 championship home. The weekend was held on the grounds of Duns Castle Estate just around the corner from Chirnside which is where he grew up.

The event catered for all ages, with karting activities, silent auctions, live music, different eras of Lotus cars on show, GB4 cars, and the famous Lotus Elans that Clark both owned and drove.

With engineers and mechanics spread out across the event, it gave attendees an opportunity to hear their stories and the spectacular experiences they have had in motorsports.

A Lotus Cortina that was on show at the event. Photo Credits: Lawrence Johnstone, The Jim Clark Trust

The incredible Lotus 25 that Clark drove was on full display for attendees. The car itself is magnificent to look at and really gives the spectator a sense of nostalgia, transporting them back to the early 60’s.

One of the things that is so special about this car is the fact that the chassis was built around Clark’s physical dimensions. This was to reduce the frontal area and have better downforce.

This car got six fastest laps and seven wins before Clark got to clinch the championship trophy. It was monumental not only for the Lotus team but for Clark as well. To give attendees a real feel of the car, Lotus engineers started the engine and revved it up as well.

The famous Lotus 25 pictured.

Doug Niven, family trustee and cousin to Clark, spoke about the weekend as a whole and what it meant to not only him but to the local townspeople.

Niven speaks about how The Jim Clark Trust are keeping Clark’s name alive and how they want to help educate and fund careers for younger generations in motorsports:

“Our job at the Jim Clark Trust is to look after the museum, promote the legacy of Jim. We want to keep Jim’s name alive.

“We educate the next generation, we run events with the school children, they build cars with batteries and race them around in a competition. It means children who aren’t very good at English or languages but are good with their hands, they can build cars, both girls and boys participate and build these cars during their class time. We then present trophies to the winners; we raise money for the next generation and support them if they want to get into motorsport. With the other money we raise we use it to keep the museum running.”

Going on to talk about the event itself, Niven expressed how incredible it was to see so many attendees at the event and how it was touching to see everyone enjoy themselves:

“We had people there from Spain, North Carolina, New Zealand, and other parts of Europe. There were over 5,000 attendees over the weekend.

“My favourite moment was being there and seeing everyone enjoy themselves. Having Jim’s cars in the borders, people were saying they are back home.”

Image credit - Jim Clark Trust

Reminiscing on the incredible driver and person Clark was, Niven spoke about some of his favourite moments with Clark: “Being at Brands Hatch, watching him win and just being there. Having the chance to talk to him. He had to go past our family farm to get to his family farm and seeing him go past on a combine you’re thinking: ‘one-minute he's a Formula 1 driver and next he’s driving a combine.’ I was away a lot at boarding school so I didn’t get to see him too much, but I remember on Monday morning I would be scouring the newspapers to see how he did at the race on the weekend.”

The Trust is an incredible way to show off the legacy that this legend brought to the sport and how even though he isn’t here today to speak about his own career, the museum does the talking for him, with special moments from his life and career shown and the real cars he drove on track on display.

The event was a nod to the legend by intertwining some of his favourite things like having a live pipe band playing and old 60’s songs being performed live by the McAndrews sisters to give a more personal feel to the event. In two years’ time a special anniversary event will be taking place on the 24th and 25th of August, with an international motor race at Ollon-Villars, to commemorate 60 years since his 1965 campaign when Clark won the Indy 500, F1 Championship, and also competed in the 1965 race at Ollon-Villars.


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