Throughout the first weekend in April, Duns, Berwickshire, was buzzing. Commercial Street was choked with traffic. Formula One Lotuses, Super Sevens, Elites, Jaguar D-Types. It was choked with people, too. When Malcolm Ricketts tried out his Lotus 22 early on Saturday morning, running it up and down the public road, he was ‘warned’ by the police but let off, ‘due to lack of witnesses’.
It was all good-natured, however, for the townsfolk of Duns and many enthusiasts from much further afield had gathered to pay their respects to Jim Clark, on the 25th anniversary of his death at Hockenheim, and on the opening of the tastefully revamped Jirn Clark Room.
His biographer Graham Gauld, Bernard Buss and former Williams team manager Peter Windsor, had organised many events for the weekend, the most significant of which was a dinner on Saturday night.
Among the many guests were Dave ‘Beaky’ Sims, Bob Sparshott, Hugh Dibley, Norman Barclay, Paddy Hopkirk, Jack Sears, Tim Parnell, Raymond Baxter, Cliff Allison, Hazel and Clive Chapman, Peter Collins, Michael Cooper, Mike Costin, Jabby Crombac, Bob Dance, Tommy Dickson, Keith Duckworth, Brian Hart, Walter Hayes, David Leslie, Les Leston, Brian Lister, Hugh McCaig, Allan McNish, Brian Melia, Doug Niven, Jack Oliver, David Phipps, David Piper, Billy Potts, Peter Procter, Anthony Reid, Walter Robertson, Maurice Rowe, Keith Schellenberg, Ian Scott-Watson, Paul Stewart, Sally Swart, Philip Turner, Stuart Turner, Tom Walkinshaw, Peter Warr, Lady (Christabel Carlisle) Watson, Tom Wheatcroft and Eoin Young.
Gauld himself summarised the entire spirit of the gathering, when he described it as “a celebration of Jim Clark, and everything that he stood for”.
Not all luminaries could be present. Several, including Mario Andretti, Stirling Moss and Dan Gurney, sent touching messages.
The greatest tribute came from old friend and fellow Scottish conspirator Jackie Stewart. “Yesterday was my pilgrimage,” he began. “That was the first time I had gone to Duns since Jimmy’s funeral. I had never visited the Jim Clark Room, and I had never had the courage to visit the grave at Chirnside. Yesterday was a reunion, in itself an enormous reward. A great man called Jim Clark flew the Scottish flag and the Union Jack, and carried himself with such a great dignity that none of us will forget it.
“As I propose a toast to motorsport and the future, we need to look back. Anything good for the future must surely have history and heritage. Scottish motor racing surely has that. Jim Clark epitomised the image of the ultimate – he set the foundation stone that allowed a future to be built. The affection shown to Jimmy today should be very much remembered, and is where the present generation of drivers should be looking. We need to look backward to look forward.
“The past lays a very good foundation, for behaviour, sportsmanship, dignity on the racetrack and love of the sport. Today we criticise lack of humility, manners, good behaviour. We should take the example of a man called Jim Clark.
“He conducted a racing car and his life with responsibility on and off the track, yet he still won 25 Grands Prix, two World Championships, Indianapolis and countless other races. Today there is no reason why you cannot be nice and well behaved and still be World Champion. Just as happened with Jim Clark in the past.”
Stewart concluded with an anecdote concerning a photograph he had handed over the previous day.
“We were in the Heron Inn in Pukekohe on the eve of the New Zealand Grand Prix during the Tasman series one year and Shell New Zealand wanted a full page advert if I won. It was desperate to mock up a photograph of me, with trophy, garland, helmet and champagne. Everything. I told them it was a bad thing to do; we hadn’t run the race. But they were insistent. “Jimmy and I were sharing a room and they wanted to take the photo there. The only time we could do it was when Jimmy was in the shower, so we waited until we heard the water running, then I whipped on my two-piece overalls, helmet, the garland, and there I was holding the champagne, when the son of a bitch walked back into the room to find me celebrating my supposed victory. . . They took a photo of Jimmy with his hand over my head; it was nice to be caught out by a friend.” D J T