Jim Clark, Open Wheel, Class of 1990
Jim Clark, considered by some to be the best natural driving talent of all-time, was on his way to establishing a standard of excellence in Formula One Grand Prix racing. Many considered it would have been unbeatable, had his career not been cut short by a tragic accident in the April, 1968 Formula Two race at Germany's flat-out Hockenheim course. Still, in less than nine years on the Formula One circuit, Clark won 25 out of the 72 races he entered, and was twice the Formula One World Champion.
Born in Fife, Scotland, Clark was invited by Colin Chapman, founder and head of Lotus cars to join his team in 1960. Three years later saw Clark win his first Formula One World Championship after taking the checkered flag in a record seven rounds. At 27, he became the youngest racer ever to win the crown. In 1965, the world championship title once again was chalked up in Clark's list of achievements after he won six events in the series.
Jim Clark's record of international success not-withstanding, he is an inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America based on his accomplishments in the United States. Three of his Grand Prix victories were garnered in the U.S. at Watkins Glen, New York.
As the commanding general in the rear engine revolution, Clark fired the first salvo with an attention-getting second place finish in his rookie year at Indianapolis in 1963. The inevitable became obvious when Jimmy's Ford-powered Lotus humiliated the roadsters with a victory at the Milwaukee 100 later that year.
Seldom, if ever, has one driver had such a dominating and influential impact upon racing as Jim Clark did in his brief career at Indianapolis.
He followed his inaugural bridesmaid run with a track record pole position in 1964. When he captured the Indianapolis checkered flag in 1965, he was the first non-American driver to do so in fortynine years. The 1966 Classic brought him another runner-up finish.
Considering that Clark's Formula One competition included some of racing's all-time greats like Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Phil Hill and Dan Gurney, the fact that he captured the pole position 33 times, put his Lotus on Row One 48 times, finished in the points 40 times and recorded the fastest race lap 27 times in his 72 contests, speaks volumes about the spirit and ability of Jim Clark.