Thousands pay tribute to racing legend Jim Clark

Lotus cars took to the streets in Duns as a tribute to Jim Clark. Picture: Kimberley Powell
Lotus cars took to the streets in Duns as a tribute to Jim Clark. Picture: Kimberley Powell
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FORMULA One cars driven by racing legend Jim Clark were paraded though his Borders home town yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of his first world championship title.

Several thousand people watched the Lotus cars in action on a closed-off section of street in one of the biggest turnouts for the annual tribute event in Duns.

Clark, who died in a racing accident 1968 aged 32, still tops polls as the greatest ever F1 driver.

Among those taking part was Bob Dance, 77, a former chief mechanic at Lotus, who is a key part of Classic Team Lotus, which restored the cars.

Also there were Ian Scott Watson, Clark’s friend and mentor from his early racing days, and Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s son Clive.

One of the Lotus 25s was driven for the first time by its Australian owner and Clark fan John Bowers, who had travelled to Scotland for the event.

Clark won seven of his ten championship races in the Lotus 25 in 1963 and was the most successful F1 driver of his time, with 25 wins in 72 races.

He died in a Formula Two race at Hockenheim in Germany.

The drive-past was followed by the cars travelling to the annual memorial service at nearby Chirnside Parish Church and a wreath laying on Clark’s grave.

They were accompanied by nearly 100 Lotus cars which had made the pilgrimage from the company’s base in Norfolk and other parts of the UK.

Alan Morgan, chairman of owners group Club Lotus, said: “Clark was a lovely man. He was very modest but astonishingly good in a racing car. Local people still hold him very dear.”

Fellow motor racing champion and friend Sir Jackie Stewart said he had been “Robin” to Clark’s “Batman”.

He said: “His modesty, manners and above all the way he drove a racing car set him apart from others in world of motor racing.

“We shared a flat in London that we called ‘The Scottish Embassy’, and he was a great person to spend time with. I remember the two of us stood on the podium in three Grand Prix in 1965 and someone termed us ‘Batman and Robin’, and there was no mistaking who was ‘Robin’.

“He was a class apart as a driver. He was so smooth and unspectacular, but so, so quick.”

Yesterday’s tribute will be followed in two weeks by the annual Jim Clark Memorial Rally mainland Britain’s only closed public roads race will feature some 250 competitors.