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Death::Jim Clark

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Death On 7 April 1968, Clark died in a racing accident at the Hockenheimring, in Germany. He was originally slated to drive in the BOAC 1000 km sportscar race at Brands Hatch, but instead chose to drive in the Deutschland Trophäe, a Formula Two race, for Lotus at the Hockenheimring, primarily due to contractual obligations with Firestone. Although the race has sometimes been characterized as a "minor race meeting" the entry list was impressive with top-running Matras for the French drivers Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo, Tecnos for Carlo Facetti and Clay Regazzoni, Team Brabhams for Derek Bell and Piers Courage, a Ferrari for Chris Amon and McLarens for Graeme Lawrence and Robin Widdows. Team Lotus drivers Graham Hill and Clark were in Gold Leaf Team Lotuses and a young Max Mosley was also in the race, moving up from the Clubman series. The event was run in two heats.<ref name="ReferenceA">Andrew Marriott, "Return to Hockenheim: The memorial that matters", Motor Sport, July 2010</ref> On the fifth lap of the first heat, Clark's Lotus 48 veered off the track and crashed into the trees. He suffered a broken neck and skull fracture, and died before reaching the hospital. The cause of the crash was never definitively identified, but investigators concluded it was most likely due to a deflating rear tyre. Clark's death affected the racing community terribly, with fellow Formula One drivers and close friends Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Chris Amon and Jack Brabham all being personally affected by the tragedy. People came from all over the world to Clark's funeral. Colin Chapman was devastated and publicly stated that he had lost his best friend. The 1968 F1 Drivers' Championship was subsequently won by his Lotus teammate Graham Hill, who pulled the heartbroken team together and held off Jackie Stewart for the crown, which he later dedicated to Clark.

Jim Clark memorial at Hockenheimring.

There was initial speculation as to whether the accident was caused by a driver error or a deflating rear tyre, and the Lotus was investigated thoroughly by aircraft crash investigators for three weeks. Many drivers including Surtees and Brabham were convinced that the crash was caused by a deflating rear tyre and were adamant that it was not a driver error—simply because they believed Clark was not capable of making such a mistake. According to Andrew Marriott of the classic journal Motor Sport who was covering the race as a young reporter "Deaths in the sport were a regular occurrence in those days, but surely someone of Clark's sublime talent and skill? People reckoned that the rear tyre had deflated, and there is another theory that the mechanical metering unit on the Cosworth FVA engine had seized and caused Clark to crash."<ref name="ReferenceA"/>

There is a large memorial to Clark at Hockenheim today, but because the track has been reduced in length and the old course reforested, the actual location of the crash is in a heavily wooded area; it is however easily accessible.


Jim Clark sections
Intro  Early years  Clark and Lotus  Remarkable performances  Death  Legacy  Racing record  Awards  References  External links  

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