Club Lotus Avon


Jim Clark Memorial

Jim Clark lost his life on 7th April 1968 in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim when his car left the road and struck a tree alongside the circuit. Jim Clark was the pre-eminent racing driver of his time and it was an enormous tragedy. He won 25 Grand Prix from 1962 to 1967. In addition Jim Clark won numerous sports car races and saloon car races, and he even competed successfully in major rallies. Many still regard Jim Clark as the best racing driver the sport has seen.

There had been a rudimentary memorial at the present-day Hockenheim Circuit for a few years, established after the stone cross placed at the spot where the accident occurred was recovered from the woodland by the old circuit. This memorial, however, did not do justice to the memory of Jim Clark and a project to enhance it was initiated. A design for a modest and tasteful improvement was drawn up with the firm support of Clive Chapman of Classic Team Lotus, Alan Morgan of Club Lotus, Mike Kimberley of Group Lotus, and Ian Scott-Watson and members of Jim's family.

After considerable delay, approval was received from the relevant authorities, and reconstruction of the Jim Clark Memorial went ahead as quickly as possible. A quarry in Cumbria prepared specially selected green slate, which was engraved with gold lettering as a feature of the design. The slate forms panels set behind the original stone cross, and alongside there are descriptive boards in English and German showing the life and achievements of Jim Clark.

The unveiling of the memorial took place as part of the Jim Clark Revival event programme of historic races on 26/27th April to mark the 40th anniversary of Jim Clark's death. In a brief ceremony the Mayor of Hockenheim began by making welcoming remarks, followed by Eberhard Reuss, a historian who gave an account of Jim Clark's life and the fatal accident.

Then Warren King described the origin of his inspiration for a new Memorial in April 2006 and paid tribute to the special qualities of Jim Clark - his outstanding talent as a racing driver, and his natural modesty and friendliness. He said:

"The Memorial project had received great support from many individuals, too many to mention, including enthusiasts in England, Scotland, Australia, and USA. Ian Scott-Watson who had played a strong part regretted that he was not well enough to be at the event, as did Jim Clark's sisters. Throughout the project Clive Chapman of Classic Team Lotus and Alan Morgan of Club Lotus provided consistent support and encouragement. Possibly the ultimate Jim Clark enthusiast is Dan Collins who races historic Lotus Formula One and Formula Junior cars with Classic Team Lotus, who contributed generously to the Memorial Fund, and whose son is named Nathan Clark Collins. What better start in life could you have?

In conjunction with Colin Chapman and Team Lotus, Jim Clark developed into a dominant driver in the 60s. We all knew that when you followed a Jim Clark race - Formula One, Lotus Cortina, or Lotus 23 - it was natural to see his car in the lead... and then the others. He had an exceptional ability and the tragedy of his sudden death shook us all, not only those involved in motor sport who knew him well, but also other motor sport followers who all felt they had a bond with Jimmy Clark. Remarkably, that personal feeling is just as strong today, forty years later, and the Memorial now gives everyone a tangible expression of their feelings."

With that the Memorial was dedicated to Jim Clark, and the Mayor of Hockenheim was invited to draw back the covering flag.

Jim Clark Memorial

Among the two hundred or so people at the dedication were important visitors including Mike Costin whose firm provided the all-important Cosworth engines for Team Lotus, and drivers from that fateful F2 race - Hubert Hahne and Kurt Ahrens, whose car had been on the front row. Also present was Winnfried Kolb, the sole marshal who witnessed the accident. He alerted the emergency services and was first on the scene, but could do nothing.

The general feeling expressed was that the Memorial represents a fitting tribute to Jim Clark, World Champion, the best racing driver the sport has seen.

Warren King
June 2008

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