My only memory of Jim Clark, as a young seven year old, was from his prestigious reputation. I did not know what F1 racing meant, but I knew what racing cars looked liked. Racing cars were different from ordinary cars. Even though ordinary cars did race if they had stripes, and numbers painted on them, and were put on racing tracks or in fields. They still were not proper racing cars though.
Real racing cars were different and they went faster and you only saw them on television because they did not drive on streets. I also had hundreds of toy cars and knew what racing cars looked like. I knew the name Jim Clark because he raced such cars. The UK in the 1960s decade was full of names in various and exciting iconic interests. Interests that came to us from pop stars, film stars, football stars, comics of great British war heroes - we were fed on a diet of great heroes.
In school, or somewhere, I knew of Jim Clark. He drove racing cars and won trophies of great prestige because he was a champion racing car driver. I had no idea what he looked like. But when we kids played motor racing cars in the school playground or out on the streets, everyone argued over who was Jim Clark.
"I'm Jim Clark."
"No, I'm Jim Clark."
Needless to say the toughest kid in the group was usually Jim Clark.
It was in the summer of 1968 when I went on holiday with my cousins, who were a little older then me. We were playing in the garden of a guest house, where we were staying, and decided to play racing cars around this huge boat that was being made in the garden. I'm not sure if it was in Margate, Ramsgate or Broadstairs because we always seemed to go to one of these places every year. This boat looked like a miniature ark and someone was in the process of building it. While we were at the guest house; whoever was trying to construct the boat, must have left the project, because we never saw anyone working on the partly completed boat. All the wood was new and I remembered wondering how they would get such a big boat off of its stands and to the sea.
We were running around this partly constructed boat playing and laughing. Then decided we were racing cars, and around the boat was the racing track.
"I'm Jim Clark," I shouted enthusiastically. My elder cousins were very tolerant and not like the kids in the playground and in the street. I had a good chance of being indulged and getting my way.
"You can't," replied my cousin Danny. "Jim Clark is dead."
"No he's not - he's a racing car driver."
He went on to tell me that Jim Clark was killed in a racing car crash, in a real racing car race, only a short time ago. I was stunned and shocked. Jim Clark was dead and I never even knew it, or what he looked like.
As years rolled by and other F1 names came and went from the sport, I learnt more of Jim Clark through watching interviews with Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill. He was a very special champion that was liked and respected in the F1 sport across the world.
Below is a link to a documentary of Jim Clark that is on YouTube. It's a very moving documentary.