When Jim Clark does a demonstration of the perfect grand prix driver at work, as he did at Zandvoort, some do not enjoy watching and consider it monotonous or dull, even though he may be setting up a new lap record and race records. Now I enjoy a wheel-to-wheel dice as well as anyone, and during those two classic races at Reims, in 1953 and ’61, I was standing on the seat with excitement along with everyone else, but equally I can sit calmly and watch a perfect performance by a great artist. It is rather like going to a concert and enjoying an invigorating overture or symphony where the orchestra is working in unison and the crescendo of sound makes you want to rise up on your toes or, alternatively, sitting in quiet meditation and listening to a great soloist playing a concerto on piano or violin. Afterwards you do not say that Menuhin’s playing was dull or monotonous because he was out there on his own, unless of course he happened not to play well.
One can view the performance of a great driver and car in the same manner, and the combination of Clark and Lotus-Climax are such that it is a joy to watch. To watch Clark lead from the first corner at Zandvoort to the finish was to watch an artist at work.
It has been described as “faultless”, but in fact he did make one tiny error on one lap round the hairpin behind the pits, when he put a wheel up the inside kerb. After the race. when talking with Clark and Chapman, I was interested to learn the reason. He took precautions to seal round the edges of his goggles to stop the ingress of flying sand particles that are always prevalent on the Dutch circuit, and to make sure that his goggles were really fitting well he had done the strap up really tight: it was too tight in fact, and during the race he developed a splitting headache due to the goggles pressing on his forehead, and it was during a moment of acute headache that he put his front wheel up the kerb.
Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental Correspondent for more than 40 years.
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