Incredibly, the 7 April 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of one of Britain’s greatest racing drivers – Jim Clark – whilst taking part in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim, Germany. Such was Clark’s legacy that he is still fondly remembered and revered, even by those who were not born at the time of his death. There has long been a Memorial Room in Clark’s home town of Duns in Berwickshire where visitors arrive from all over the world. Now, with the creation of The Jim Clark Trust there is a big push to raise the funds to enable the museum to be expanded.
The quiet and unassuming Scot was born into a Borders farming family in 1936; he always remained a farmer at heart but he quickly developed an interest in things mechanical, learning to drive a tractor before he was old enough to drive on the road. On the day of his 17th birthday he filled in the forms for a provisional licence and six weeks later had passed his driving test. Soon after that, his father bought a new Rover, handing the family Sunbeam Talbot Mk3 over to Jim. That was the start…
It wasn’t long before Jock McBain, the owner of a local garage, persuaded Jim to enter into a driving test organised by Berwick and District Motor Club at Winfield; he won the over 2000cc saloon class. McBain was to be a big influence on Clark’s career in the years to come, but just two weeks later he provided a DKW for him to take part in his first race at Crimond, finishing eighth. He was soon winning races in a variety of cars.
Clark eventually came to the attention of Lotus boss Colin Chapman after racing against him at a Boxing Day Brands Hatch meeting in 1958. They were driving similar Lotus Elite’s and Chapman won with Clark second. However Chapman recognised the talent and it was to lead to a close and lasting relationship right up until Clark’s death nearly ten years later.
Chapman soon offered Clark a regular drive with Lotus, but it was turned down as Jim said he was not planning a serious racing career! However, he did put in the occasional appearance for Lotus which of course led to a more permanent situation although there was never a contract. Clark eventually made his Formula One debut in the 1960 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, driving a Lotus 18. He went on to contest 72 Grand Prix’ (remember, there were not so many races in those days), only ever driving for Lotus. He won 25 of them, becoming Drivers’ World Champion in both 1963 and 1965. In addition, he won the Indianapolis 500 race in the USA in 1965, and even found time to contest and win the British Saloon Car Championship at the wheel of a Lotus Cortina. There were of course numerous other successes along the way before his life was so tragically cut short just one month after his 32nd birthday.
Now, there is one more race to raise the funds needed for the Museum. The Scottish Borders Council has pledged £620,000 towards the requisite £1.6m, with a further £645,000 coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, covering the Stage 1 Development phase. Therefore, £300,000 is now needed to give the green light to the Delivery build phase to redevelop the existing Jim Clark Room in Duns into a modern museum with space to display new memorabilia together with two of Jim Clark’s race cars.
The #jimclarkmuseum project is supported by Honorary President Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, who raced against Clark, fellow former Scottish drivers Dario Franchitti MBE, David Coulthard MBE and Allan McNish together with other Scottish motor sport stalwarts Ian Scott-Watson, Andrew Cowan and Hugh McCaig, as well as Clive Chapman (Classic Team Lotus) and Goodwood’s Lord March.
Sir Jackie Stewart said: “Jim Clark was not only the best racing driver I ever raced with and against. He was also a great friend, a wonderful ambassador for motor sport and indeed for Scotland. It is only right that we honour his success and achievements.”
Stewart is asking motor sport enthusiasts everywhere to dig deep and support a charity crowdfunding campaign which will only run for eight weeks, up until April 21, 2017 to secure the full £300,000 target. The campaign was launched at the recent RaceRetro show where Classic Team Lotus publicised it by displaying an ex-Jim Clark Lotus that has not been seen in public for many years – the Type 33 he used so effectively to take the 1965 World Championship.
Click here to find out more and make your pledge: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jim-clark-museum