On a trip to the Scottish Borders a couple of weeks ago, to test the revitalised and much improved Lotus Europa, I had dinner with an old friend, Ian Scott-Watson.
You might not have heard of him, but he was the bloke who gave the great Scottish champion, Jim Clark, both cars to drive and crucial encouragement in his first few years. There’s a tale about Scott-Watson, a perfectly decent driver, practising for a sprint in his DKW, then handing it to Clark to have a go as an afterthought. Clark was so quick that the stewards felt they had to ‘have a word’ to Scott-Watson about sandbagging...
There have been lots of Clark books over the years, starting with one called “Jim Clark At The Wheel”, by Graham Gauld, which was the bible in my youth. It told a tale of normal bloke with driving skills far beyond those of great drivers, whose achievements were based on smoothness, accuracy, consistency and being easy on the car.
Like most of my generation, I was fascinated by tales of Clark doing the same number of laps as his team mate yet being both quicker and easier on the tyres. With Stirling Moss, who had similar priorities, Clark changed the face of driving.
Here’s the point. While I was in Duns, Ian Scott-Watson told me he’d been working on a memoir — his recollections of the high-points in Jim Clark’s career, but also his recollection of dealing with Colin Chapman at Lotus (ISW bought a succession of early cars to race) and of the whole motor racing scene (early on, he was JC’s manager).
In most cases, I’d say there had been enough written about Clark to cover it, but now I find I’m impatient to hear from the man who knows most about his the great Scottish champion’s career, because he was there for much of it, and had a big hand in organising it. Publishers awake!