It was exactly 40 years ago today that Britain lost the man who, to me and countless others, will always be the greatest racing driver of them all.
On the face of it, that’s a preposterous statement for me to make. Clark died seven years before I was born and precious little archive footage of him racing survives. Pretty much everything I knew about him is based on books, photographs and the good fortune to have spoken over the years to various people who knew him.
As a kid, with no knowledge of 1960s grand prix racing, my dad used to drive us between various relatives in the Scottish borders through the area that Clark grew up in – the town of Duns, which has posthumously adopted him as its most famous son, and the village of Chirnside which was actually closest to his family’s farm at Edington Mains.
Hearing about Clark, and seeing some of his trophies in the small museum in Duns, triggered my interest in a driver who was the antithesis of the sponsor-clad automatons of modern racing. This was a man who could make any car fast and who raced in numerous different disciplines. He took pole in over a third of the grands prix he started, won 25 of them (despite the shaky reliability of the Lotus cars he raced), took two drivers’ championships and won the Indy 500. On top of that he raced touring cars and other minor formula and was well on his way to a top-three finish in the 1966 RAC Rally when he crashed out.