NOW THAT WAS A RACE
Peter Windsor remembers the 1965 British GP
He strolled onto the grid for the 1965 British Grand Prix at Silverstone wearing a fawn cardigan over his blue Dunlop overalls. His name, ‘Clark’, was emblazoned in big letters on the side of the pole-setting Lotus 33B-Climax. On the red-upholstered seat lay his dark-blue Bell Magnum helmet, with its white peak. And for this race he chose tan kangaroo skin ‘Jim Clark’ driving gloves, from a range that also included red and black.
Clark led the race from the start but Graham Hill, in the works BRM P261, pushed him hard, his trademark, graceful, opposite-lock slides thrilling the crowds. It wasn’t until three-quarter distance that the race seemed to be resolved in Clark’s favour. Hill, with fading brakes, began to drop quickly away. But as it happened, the real race was only just beginning.
Jim’s normally rock-solid Climax V8 engine began to lose oil pressure – rst at Stowe, then at Club and Woodcote. On the straights, the needle would icker back to the centre. With each passing lap, the plunges grew ever-worse; a blow-up – a rare blow-up in this nal year for Coventry Climax in Formula 1 – seemed inevitable.
WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO? Jim had no help from the pitwall. With no radio communication, Colin Chapman was oblivious to the problem. They could hear reports over the PA of what seemed to be a misre, but on the pit straight the Climax engine sounded strong.
And so Jim conceived a cure: he decided to kill the engine through all the fast corners, thus minimising the piston or main bearing damage when the surge was at its greatest and the lubricant at its thinnest. He would approach Stowe in top gear, brake and change down to fourth – and then nd neutral at around 190km/h before switching off the engine. He would have no throttle to help him balance a slide; he couldn’t apply any power until the 33B was straight. Instead, Jim was going to have to attempt an earlier-than-normal approach; a rotation at exactly the right moment and then a declutch to bring it all to life. All this without losing too much time to Graham Hill.
With his head tipped back, his body language giving no outward sign of the pressing problem, Jim set about the task in hand. Prior to the diminishing oil pressure, Jim had been lapping around 1min 33s/34s. Now, in switch-off mode, his lap times, incredibly, were only two seconds slower.
Three laps to go. Two. Once or twice the engine had sputtered before screaming back into life. Jim could now see Graham looming in his mirrors. The crowd, in his peripheral vision, was a waving sea of arms. “I never thought I’d live to see this!” boomed Peter ScottRussell over the PA. “One car won’t stop and the other won’t go…”
Jim re-lit the Climax one more time. Third. Fourth. Abbey Curve. Fifth. Down to Woodcote. Fourth. Extend the straight. Delay the lateral load. Power on.
Chequered Flag. Last lap: 1min 36.8s. Enough for Jim Clark to win by a margin of 3.2 seconds – and to take a decisive, brilliant step towards his second world championship.
From left: Clark, Hill, Ginther, Stewart and Surtees commence battle at Silverstone in 1965