In this dynamic image Jim Clark crosses the finish line receiving the checker from a somewhat acrobatic marshall and gets a joyous salute from Lotus owner and team manager Colin Chapman. This was at the 1965 French Grand Prix which took place on June 27th over 40 laps of the Charade circuit near Clermont-Ferrand, the home of Michelin. Sometimes called the “the little Nürburgring,” Charade wound over the steep sides of a mountainous area called La Chaîne des Puys, a group of extinct volcanoes. It was an extremely twisty circuit, with hardly any straight at all, just over five miles long with several sharp changes in elevation – a real driver’s race course. Charade still exists today, but is now a simpler circuit at about half its original length.
Clark was driving a then three year old Lotus 25, albeit with the latest V8 four-valve Climax 1.5 liter motor, while his teammate Mike Spence had the newer Lotus 33, but with the older two-valve unit. Although it was Clark’s first time on the circuit, he set pole time, but would have competition on the front row from Jackie Stewart’s BRM 61/2 and Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari 158/63, now fitted with the latest twelve cylinder motor while teammate and 1964 World Champion John Surtees had the older V8. Such could be Italian politics at Ferrari. Nevertheless, Clark was in fine form and won by some 26 seconds from Stewart who was followed by Surtees’ Ferrari. 1965 was another great year for Jim Clark who again won a World Championship, this time with six first place finishes, plus a win in the Indianpolis 500.
The combination of Jim Clark and Colin Chapman was indeed a unique one with Clark’s amazing skills finding a consistently winning combination with Chapman’s ground-breaking F1 designs. Clark really never seemed to make a mistake or be other than totally collected. He was without question one of the best Grand Prix drivers of all time.
Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection