You know that discussion experts have on a Friday night after they have been to the pub about who the greatest racing driver is ? All sorts of facts and figures are quoted and debated. Some might say Senna or Prost, some Schumacher and of course there’s Hamilton, Vettel and now Verstappen but we might have to travel further back in time because there is one driver who dominated racing in the 1960s who was the benchmark against whom all other drivers measured themselves.

I am of course talking about Jim Clark. He has inspired many drivers and even the great Ayrton Senna visited his old school as he needed to understand more about the man. Fangio who Stirling Moss considers to be the best thought that Clark was the greatest. Another great champion, Jacky Stewart considered himself Clark’s understudy. He was a far more complex character than his press image of a Scottish gentleman sheep farmer. Some suggest that he was disillusioned with Lotus and had decided to step away from racing and return to farming when he was killed in April 1968 at Hockenheim but we will never know for certain.

I have recently visited The Jim Clark Museum in Dunns, Scotland and I recommend you do too. Don’t expect lots of interactive displays and gimmicks, there is nothing flashy or superfluous, this museum is more of a place for tranquility and quiet contemplation and the visitors are more like pilgrims on a quest for enlightenment.

The museum started as a place to keep and display his trophies and is now run by the Jim Clark Trust together with the Jim Clark Bistro and the Jim Clark Trail. It is home to a gallery of photographs and some of the many cars he raced.  A white Border Rievers D Type Jaguar that Clark raced before he joined Team Lotus sits next to his Lotus Cortina with which he won the 1965 St Mary’s Trophy and my favourite, his Lotus 25 Formula 1 (this has returned to its owner but has been replaced with Clark’s 1967 Indy 500 Lotus 38 ).

You can watch short films that give you a better understanding of him as a person and not just a racing driver and what is apparent is the respect and warmth all his fellow competitors felt towards him. I am too young to have seen his race, I only know what I’ve learnt through reading about him or watching documentaries.

It is impossible to compare drivers from one era to another but if we are then we might have to include rally drivers in our assessment, –  come to think of it Jim Clark was a brilliant rally driver as well. I can’t help thinking that Clark would be equally successful in the modern era as he was 60 years ago.


Sir Jacky Stewart OBE said :  “He was my hero and forever will be. He was a special man, one of a kind, the like of which we have never seen since”

The museum is open 1st March to 30th November 11am to 3pm and is closed on Wednesdays.

jimclarktrust.com
44 Newtown Street, Duns, Scotland. TD11 3AU

First published in Automotive Refinisher.