Formula 1 at Imola

Lotus, Jim Clark, Imola, klemcoll

This is the start of the Grand Prix of the City of Imola, a non-Championship Formula 1 race, held at Imola on April 21, 1963. This was the first Formula 1 race held at Imola which was then known as the Autodromo di Castellaccis. Today what is essentially the same circuit is known as the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. In recent years it has been the scene of both high emotion and terrible tragedy, the latter in 1994. The circuit was initially constructed in 1950 by connecting local roads.

Om pole here is Jim Clark with a Lotus 25 powered by a Coventry-Climax FWMV 1.5 liter V8. He is on the left as Imola was then, as it remains today, a counter-clockwise circuit. In the middle of the front row is Clark’s teammate Trevor Taylor also with a Lotus 25 with Joakim Bonnier on the outside in Rob Walker’s Cooper 60, also with the latest Coventry-Climax power unit. The field had come straight to Imola from Pau in southwestern France, a trip of some 750 miles mostly on slow two-lane highways through towns as there were no autoroutes in France in those days. Missing from the grid were three important cars, the entry of the new ATS for Phil Hill was withdrawn as not being ready and two of the latest Ferrari updated 156F1 cars entered for Willy Mairesse and John Surtees were likewise not race-ready. Clark was streets ahead of everyone including Taylor by qualifying 2.5 seconds in front on a circuit just over 5 km. in length.

Lotus, Imola, Jim Clark, Trevor Taylor, klemcollHere are Clark (left) and Taylor in conference on the grid, perhaps some last minute advice from the team leader? Advice or not Clark had a huge lead at the end of the first lap, followed by Taylor, Bonnier and Jo Siffert with a Lotus-B.R.M. But Taylor was right away into the pits with gear selector problems which took the Lotus mechanics about 15 minutes to put right, or so they thought. Taylor returned at the end of the next lap as the difficulty had recurred. Finally fixed, the delay left Taylor to use the race as a practice session.

Poor Bonnier who had been holding down second had his Climax motor detonate in a big way which moved Siffert up to second, albeit a full minute behind a cruising Clark. That is the way they finished with journeyman Bob Anderson in third in his Lola-Climax. Interestingly, Taylor’s practice session race evidently did wonders for him as late in the race he passed Clark and set fastest lap, tying Clark’s dominant lap time in practice.

Photos by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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