Indy through Clark's eyes
I found your articles on the rear-engined revolution at Indianapolis (October 2000 issue) during the 1960s very interesting and felt compelled to refer to Jim Clark’s account of the 1963 adventure, as told in his book At the Wheel.
In Chapter Eight, ‘Racing in America’, Clark gives much credit to Dan Gurney for not only planting in Colin Chapman’s mind the idea of running a Lotus at Indianapolis, but also approaching and encouraging Ford of America to provide and develop engines for the project. Gurney’s involvement in this would provide an interesting topic for a future article.
Your article by Jabby Crombac refers to the test of a 1.5-litre car on the Motor Speedway, which Clark informs us was Trevor Taylor’s car direct from the US GP at Watkins Glen. He ran about 100 laps, with a fastest average of 143mph. The agile Lotus, in spite of its imperfect set-up, was taking the turns in the 140s, while the fastest Indy Roadsters were turning at 138mph.
The adaptations to the original Lotus 25 concept are referred to in fair detail by Clark, such as the additional fuel tanks and lengthening the wheelbase to 8ft to meet the regulations of the day — and then adding some more to accommodate Dan Gurney’s long legs.
Thank you for prompting me to drag this book from my shelves. I have read it anew and marvel at the statistics in the back, which show that Clark won Indianapolis on 31 May 1965. He then drove a Lotus 30 at Mosport in Canada on 5 June, won the Formula 2 races at Crystal Palace on 7 June, before rejoining the grand prix circus on 13 June at Spa and winning five races in a row (adding to South Africa back in January) on his way to his second world championship.
A true champion. No wonder he was so annoyed that the officials at Indy made him take his rookie test twice.
I am, Yours etc, Charles Lloyd, Auckland, New Zealand