Race report: Indianapolis, May 31 1965

About turn!

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On his third attempt Jim Clark won the annual American classic race on the rectangular Indianapolis track. In 1963 he finished a close second in a rear-engined Lotus with aluminium push-rod Ford V8 engine, in 1964 tyre trouble put him out after challenging for the lead in a Lotus with an aluminium four-camshaft Ford V8 racing engine, and this year in a Lotus 38 with the latest four-camshaft Ford V8 engine and running on Firestone tyres everything went according to plan and he won the race at record speed, having led for 190 of the 200 laps. Qualifying trials had been held at record speeds with AJ Foyt taking pole position at 161.233mph for the four laps with a Lotus-Ford V8, Clark second at 160.729mph, and Dan Gurney third at 158.898mph, in a similar car. Another Lotus-Ford V8 was in the middle of the second row of the start, driven by Parnelli Jones, so it was not surprising that Lotus cars dominated the race.

Although the end of the classic front-engined four-cylinder Offenhauser Roadster Indianapolis car was in sight in 1963, this type of car managed a win last year, but this year it was virtually dead and buried, the highest placed to qualify being on the fifth row of the three-by-three starting grid, this same car, driven by Gordon Johncock, finishing fifth out of the 11 finishers. Slowest of the 33 starters was a rear-engined four-cylinder Offenhauser car with a speed of 153.774mph, and among the starters were two Novi V8-engined cars and the two BRP-built cars with Ford V8 engines. In three brief years Indianapolis has witnessed a complete changeabout in design, and Clark’s win this year with the Lotus 38-Ford V8 has established the pattern just as Cooper-Climax did in grand prix racing in 1959.

It took three attempts, but after leading 190 of the 200 laps, and with Lotuses top of the grid, Jim Clark and Colin Chapman demonstrated that a new era was here