Jim Clark never thought that he would probably become a race driver ever. The Scotsman was a genius behind the wheel who was loved by one and all. Clark was as incredible behind the wheel of the race car as he was shy out of it. Never one to embrace his celebrity status, Clark was always looking for ways to downplay his brilliance. Unfortunately for Clark, his dominance of the sport was such that not only could it not be matched, it was unbelievable.
Clark was born in a farming family amongst flocks and flocks of pedigree sheep. His family’s moderately affluent background meant that he was able to attend a private school in Edinburgh, when he was 13. A star at Hockey, Jim merely wanted to race as a hobby and the thought of being a professional had never ventured close to the man. His parents were opposed to the mere thought of him driving at reckless speeds and only allowed him to drive the farm tractors. At 17, he got his drivers license and also a Sunbeam Talbot. By the time he turned 20, he was already racing in local rallies as well in a variety of skill tests.
Jim had a number of wealthy friends who started investing in his driving ability. They would regularly enter cars into club racing competitions where Jim wouldn’t disappoint them. Jim’s friend formed a major chunk of the encouragement that got Jim to where he did. Although reluctant, Jim was constantly pushed and persuaded by his friends to do something that he seemed to be a natural at. A race in 1958 proved to be he turning point. Racing with another one his “sponsored cars”, a Lotus Elise Coupe, at Brands Hatch; Jim won the race beating none other than Colin Chapman, founder of the company who’s car Jim was driving. Chapman bought Clark in for the Lotus Formula Junior series where Clark began to excel. Within two years, Jim Clark was a member of Team Lotus for the 1960 Formula One Championships.
In the same year, at Spa, Jim Clark would have one of those weekends that almost put him off of racing. Chris Bristow’s Cooper crashed and Chris lost his life but that wasn’t enough. Chris’ body lay across the tracks in a bloody mess and Jim barely managed to avoid hitting the mutilated body and a few laps later, Jim was to lose his friend, and team mate Alan Stacey after he lost control of his car when a bird smashed against his face. Jim almost quit racing but stayed on and despite his utter hatred for the Belgian circuit, he was to come back again and win 4 consecutive races there.
He got his first complete Grand Prix season in 1961. A collision with Ferrari’s Wolfgang von Trips became a haunting memory. Although Clark was unhurt and totally innocent, von Trips’ car flew into the crowds and killed 14 people including the German driver himself. Jim again decided to stop at the sport but it was Chapman who persuaded him to continue.