On Saturday, January 6, 1968, the newly crowned Formula One World Champion, 32-year-old New Zealander Denny Hulme, was the protagonist today, along with compatriot Maurice Brownlie, of a dramatic accident on the Pukehoe circuit during the running of the New Zealand Grand Prix, won by Chris Amon in the Dino 246. Hulme and Brownlie collided in a corner, splashing off the track: the former suffered a mild concussion, the latter only some bruises.
"It's a miracle he's still alive".
Hulme confesses to the rescuers. The accident happens on the 53rd of 58 laps of the race, valid as the first round of the Tasmanian Cup (reserved for single-seaters up to 2500 cc, with no weight limit). Hulme is at the wheel of a 1600 cc Ford-powered Brabham; Brownlie drives a Brabham-Repco. The two enter a wide-radius curve together at a speed of about 240 km/h. According to initial reports, Brownlie, who does not realize he has Hulme on his side, would change his driving line, shifting slightly outward. The wheels of the two cars touched, latching onto the suspension: a moment, and Hulme's Brabham-Ford reared up, flying over the other single-seater and falling back about ten meters further. After spinning on itself several times, the car leaves the track, coming to an upside-down halt against a wooden barrier. Brownlie's Brabham-Repco ends up off the road on the opposite side, knocking down a pole. The two drivers, immediately rescued and transported to Auckland Hospital, are judged to be in fairly good condition, especially considering the severity of the accident. Doctors feared that Hulme, in addition to the concussion, had suffered a fractured neck, and on Sunday, January 7, 1968, they subjected him to a series of checks. Hulme and Brownlie's fearful adventure should not overshadow the splendid success achieved by Amon at the wheel of the Dino 246, ahead of Australian Frank Gardner, in a Brabham equipped with an Alfa Romeo engine, and Englishman Piers Courage, in a McLaren-Cosworth. The Ferrari driver, who was gaining experience from race to race and had finished fourth in the recent South African Grand Prix, engaged in an exciting duel with Jim Clark and his Lotus-Ford. The Scotsman, overtaken on the first lap, managed to regain the lead, but was unable to break away from Amon and the Dino. The fight continued for 50 laps, then Clark, betrayed for once by his eagerness, entered a corner too fast and spun, ending up off the track.
Nothing serious for Clark, but the Lotus was damaged in the crash into the crash barriers and could not continue. The Tasmanian Cup, so named in homage to the island of the same name located south of Australia, is reserved for single-seater cars built Under current Formula 1 rules from 1954 to 1960. It comprises eight events: four in New Zealand (the one just held in Pukehoe, Levln, Chrlstchurch and Teretonga), three in Australia (Catalina Park, Surfer's Paradise and San down Park) and one in Tasmania (Longford). The event is attended by. In more or less official form, almost all the teams participating in the Formula 1 World Championship and their drivers, from Clark and Graham Hill to Hulme, Amon, Brabham, McLaren, and Rodriguez, plus a swarm of local drivers, in cars often made by themselves. Amon races privately, although he enjoys the full support of Ferrari, which has even prepared a car especially for him for the Cup, precisely the Dino 246 Tasmania. It is a single-seater equipped with the well-known six-cylinder engine, increased from two liters to 2400 cc displacement. The power, at 8900 rpm, is 285 horsepower, the weight - with water and oil supply - 425 pounds. The car can reach 300 kilometers per hour. The Dino is less powerful than its rivals (the Lotus and B.R.M. have, for example, 320-330 horsepower), but it is lighter (about ninety kilograms less): The power-to-weight ratio is slightly in its favor. On the curvy, not-too-fast circuits on which the Cup trials are held, this could play a decisive role. Repeating the success achieved on Epiphany Day in the New Zealand Grand Prix. Chris Amon, the Ferrari driver, also wins at the wheel of the Dino 246 in the Levin race, the second round valid for the Tasmanian Cup, ahead of Piers Courage and Palmer. Amon covered the 63 laps of the race in 50'40"2. at an average speed of 144 km/h.
Amon's achievement is facilitated by the withdrawal of the most dangerous competitors due to mechanical woes (Clark, Gardner, Rodriguez. McLaren), but this in no way diminishes its technical and competitive significance; on the contrary, it highlights more the car's excellent skills and perfect set-up. Only the first part of the race - developed over the distance of 120 kilometers - gives rise to some uncertainty about the final outcome. The protagonist of a lightning-fast start was Australian Frank Gardner in a Brabham with a two-and-a-half-liter Alfa Romeo engine. Gardner persisted in his action, as if the finish was only a few laps away, but he soon had to give way to Clark. The Lotus driver, after being surprised by the Australian's initial spurt, produced an impressive recovery that in less than ten laps allowed him to take control of the race. At this point one got the impression that Jim Clark should find no more obstacles, especially since his Lotus-Ford appeared superior in terms of power and sheer speed to all the other cars. However, the Scot's hopes of emulating the victory he had achieved last year on this same circuit suffered two hard blows: the first around lap 30, when Clark's Lotus went off the track in a right-angle corner, allowing the very regular Amon to leap into the lead, and the second two laps later when the breakage of a rear suspension put the Scot out of the race for good, who, in the meantime, had managed to get back on track and move back into second place just two seconds behind Amon. On lap 31, Gardner also had to retire after running off the road in a corner, seriously damaging the car. From the halfway point onward, Amon increased his lead by running about a third of a lap ahead of the B.R.M.'s of Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and New Zealander Bruce McLaren. Later, Rodriguez and McLaren will also be forced to stop, the former due to mechanical woes and the latter to a fuel system failure.
On Saturday, January 27, 1968, New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren, at the wheel of a B.R.M., won the Teretonca Automobile Grand Prix, beating Scottish ace Jim Clark in a Lotus-Ford by just over ten seconds. In third place was Australian Frank Gardner, followed by Chris Amon, the young driver from New Zealand who was the first Ferrari driver. Amon leads the Tasmanian Cup motor racing standings, of which today's Teretonca Grand Prix is the fourth round. The young driver focuses his attention more on the rankings than on success and runs a cautious race on the difficult Invercargill circuit in the southern part of the island. It is a rather treacherous track, so much so that Amon himself loses the chance for a better finish due to a slight accident. It is now lap 37, with Clark leading by 10 seconds over Amon, followed by Gardner and McLaren. Amon lost precious seconds due to a skid in a corner, which allowed McLaren to overtake both the Ferrari driver and Gardner. The latter in turn made a fearful skid, braking to avoid a race official who ran to assist Amon, who got away without injury. Jim Clark, who with his Lotus-Ford dominated the scene in the first half of the race, saw his success slip away because of a frightening accident, fortunately without consequences, that happened to him on lap 53. The Flying Scotsman, despite having a ninety-second lead over McLaren, sprints out of the corner that leads into the final straight. It is a barely noticeable corner that can be taken at high speed. However, the asphalt is wet and Clark, running at 200 km/h, suddenly skids going off the track.
The car makes a great leap onto the grass, stopping after a series of jolts, three hundred meters from the jury control tower. Clark leaps out, carefully checks the car, and then restarts, stopping only briefly in the pits to have the hood removed. The race is now compromised, but Clark tries everything to chase McLaren. It is too late, unfortunately, and the Scot has to settle for reducing his gap over the New Zealand winner to just over 10 seconds. At the end of the four-race series of the New Zealand sector of the Tasmanian Cup (for which the three best results count) Amon figures, as noted, in first place, with 24 points, ahead of Clark with 15 points, Courage with 13, McLaren 11, Gardner 10 and world champion Denis Hulme with 5 points. On Sunday, February 4, 1968, ten days after his triumph in the Monte-Carlo Rally, Britain's Vie Elford scored another resounding victory by winning, paired with Germany's Jochen Neerpasch, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the first round of the Sportscar World Championship. As in Monte-Carlo, Elford is driving a Porsche: this time not a 911 T coupe, but a far more powerful prototype of more than two liters. The Stuttgart manufacturer's success is complete, as behind Elford-Neerpasch come two other German cars, those of Siffert-Herrmann and Schlesser-Buzzeta. The white cars parade across the finish line, repeating Ferrari's exploit a year later. In the last ten hours of the race, the Porsches have virtually no rivals.Having disappeared from the scene the nearly 5.000 cc Ford GT 40s of Ickx-Redmond and Hawkins-Hobbs (the former for gearbox failure, the latter for having had its fuel tank punctured by ending up against some wreckage at the edge of the track, wreckage from other cars involved in accidents), the Alfa Romeo 33s never managed to trouble the German squadron.
The Alfa 33s placed fifth, sixth and seventh with Schutz-Vaccarella, Andretti-Bianchi and Casoni-Biscaldi (fourth was the Ford Mustang of Americans Titus and Bucknum). A strong performance from a distance-holding standpoint, but the Milan engineers will need to increase the engines in their cars if they are to compete on par with the Porsches. The experimental turbine-powered Howmet car was eliminated with four hours to go by a mistake by the driver, American Ed Lowther, who drifts too far to the outside, crashing into the edge of the track. Conclusion: the suspension breaks down and the car is forced to abandon. The fourth official Porsche, driven by German Gerhard Mitter, collides with the Porsche of a private racer, Masten Gregory, and the Ferrari of Swiss Spoerry. The three cars leave the track after a frightening series of somersaults: the drivers, fortunately, remain unharmed. No official Ferraris or Fords participate in the race. Italians and Americans, annoyed by the new international regulations limiting the displacement of prototypes to 3000 cc, seem determined to give up - at least for now - the championship, in which they had been protagonists in past years. With the first three places, the Porsches get 19 points. On Sunday, February 25, 1968, Jim Clark won the Australian Grand Prix, contested at the Sandown circuit in Melbourne in sweltering heat (37 °C temperature), imposing himself in a genuine sprint over New Zealander Chris Amon, who was 0.1 seconds ahead at the finish line.
Thus, the Scot secured for the third consecutive year the Tasmanian Cup, the prestigious trophy named after Abel Janson. Tasman, discoverer in the 17th century of New Zealand and the Island named after him, precisely Tasmania. Clark, at the wheel of the Lotus-Ford, leads the 170-kilometer race from start to finish, finding the Dino 246 driver a worthy opponent. The crowd experiences a thrill of excitement when Amon manages - at the 33rd of the 55-lap race - to overtake his rival; then Clark regains the upper hand and leads the race to the end. There is still one round to go before the conclusion of the Tasman Cup, but Clark is now mathematically certain of success. And indeed, on Sunday, March 3, 1968, Jim Clark won the Tasmania Cup in his Lotus-Ford. Amon, in the Dino 246, finished second, followed by young Englishman Piers Courage, who triumphed in the last of the eight events in which the event was divided, the Longford race, ahead of Rodriguez and Gardner. Clark settled for fifth place, while Amon, who went off the track on the first lap, finished seventh. The race was adversely affected by bad weather (rain and violent gusts of wind) and began two hours late due to the arson of a bridge crossing the track. Saturday, March 2, 1968 Enzo Ferrari arrives in Turin to visit the exhibition of the racing cars. Ferrari arrives around 1:00 p.m.. to avoid the busiest hours, in the company of his wife, Laura Garello. It was a short but comprehensive visit, from the rich accessories section to the cars collected in the hall on the second floor of the Auto Museum. Doing the honors is Dr. Luigi Giovannetti.
"An exhibition like this can only be good for our sport of driving. It is a booster, a for ma of publicity toward an activity that benefits the entire auto industry. It is a pretty good time, although there is no shortage of difficulties".
The Modena-based manufacturer will turn its hopes this year to Formula 1 2 single-seaters, leaving the prototypes behind. A decision motivated by the mutation to three-liter displacement imposed by international regulations on the latter type of cars. Instead, cars in the Sport category (fifty built in the current year) can go up to 5000 cc, thus cutting off any chance of success to the less powerful cars.
"We cannot make fifty cars, so we are stuck. It is useless to go on the track, it is useless to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans".
But why did he build with the cooperation of Pininfarina a prototype car, the P5?
"Because Pininfarina was pleased to try their hand at a racing car, and because certain regulations can also change. You always have to be ready".
Is the no for Le Mans irrevocable?
Confirms the Modenese manufacturer, in a belligerent tone. But you can tell he's sorry. While much larger manufacturers and racing teams than his limit their activities to one area of motorsports, he would like to participate-as always-in all the big events. An enthusiasm that at age 70 is more alive than ever. After a prolonged stop at the booth housing the Fiat Dino and a tour of the small Formula 850 single-seaters, Ferrari sets off again for Modena. Saturday, March 16, 1968 Andrea De Adamich, the young Ferrari driver, is miraculously saved during practice for the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, the famous English circuit located 40 kilometers from London. De Adamich goes off the track at Paddock Hill Bend, which follows the start straight, and his car, a three-liter single-seater, catches fire. Two firemen in special asbestos suits rush in and manage to extract the 27-year-old Italian conductor from the wreckage of the car. De Adamich suffers very slight burns and a few broken teeth, and he does not even want to be hospitalized. The Race of Champions-which will take place on Sunday, March 17, 1968-is a Formula 1 competition, that is, reserved for those single-seaters that take part in World Championship races. The race is not among the trials valid for the title, but it is very important, because it is considered an opening of the competitions in Europe. As is well known, the first race of the World Championship was already held in January in Kyalami, South Africa, and the second will take place in early May in Jarama, Spain. Brands Hatch is attended by the most famous cars and drivers.
Ferrari is sending three of its cars, entrusted to Chris Amon, who is fresh from his fine tests in the Tasmanian Cup; young Belgian acquisition Jacky Ickx; and Andrea de Adamich, who switched to the Maranello team this year after winning two European championships glue Giulia GTA 1600 and taking part in many Formula 3 races. De Adamich is a bachelor and is studying law (second year) at the University of Camerino. He is a serious and punctilious guy, but he does not yet seem to be entirely comfortable driving the powerful and light Formula 1 single-seaters. At Kyalami he ended up off the track, due to a slip on an oil patch, damaging the car but being unharmed. More serious was today's accident, and only the safety measures taken on the circuit saved him from the atrocious end of poor Lorenzo Bandini. After the controversy that followed the Monte-Carlo tragedy, it is customary on English tracks to place firemen equipped with special flame-resistant suits and extremely powerful foamers at the most dangerous points. The accident occurred during the second day of practice. The Ferrari was traveling at about 160 km/h at the time of the accident: the car went off the road, hit a pole, caught fire and exploded, moments after firefighters and circuit personnel extracted the Italian driver from the rottemi. As noted, De Adamich reports only minor burns and the breaking of a few teeth, as well as the breaking of his glasses.
The pilot also complains of a slight pain in his back: the X-ray examination he underwent at the hospital reassured him immediately. De Adamich obtains in practice the tenth time, but tomorrow logically he will not be in the race. The best result is achieved by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. Amon's Ferrari gets the fourth fastest time, on par with Hulme's McLaren-Ford. On Sunday, March 17, 1968, New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren, in a Ford-powered McLaren car, won the Race of Champions. Behind McLaren are Pedro Rodriguez (B.R.M.) and Denny Hulme, in another McLaren. The winner is unopposed. McLaren takes the lead on the first lap and remains in command of the race until the end, finishing his effort in one hour 18'53"4, averaging 162.140 km/h (scheduled 50 laps for a total of 213 kilometers). The New Zealander also set a new track record, completing the second pass in 1'36"6, averaging 167.61 km/h. The only thrills granted to spectators are offered by Pedro Rodriguez. The Mexican starts with a delay of about half a minute because the engine, at the start, goes out. Rodriguez throws himself into a furious chase, improving his position lap after lap, and gets within 12 seconds of McLaren. Then the New Zealander, realizing the danger, increased the pace and crossed the finish line with more than 14 seconds on his talented opponent. Amon and Ickx, perhaps impressed by the accident to De Adamich (the Italian driver had a quiet night and is fine), race without putting in much effort. What's more, Ickx had to stop in the pits several times for electrical system woes. Stewart also had bores: due to a slide bar failure, every time the Scot touches the brake, the clutch also drops.
Ten of the fourteen single-seaters started arrived at the finish line. Graham Hill (absent Jim Clark, he is the only Lotus man in the race), Bonnier, Spence and Moser are forced to abandon due to various failures. The 12 Hours of Sebring, the second round of the Sportscar World Championship, gets underway Saturday, March 23, 1968, at 10:00 a.m. in front of 55.000 spectators. Absent Ferraris, which are not participating in the event this year, the race hinges on the duel between Ford GT 40s and 2200 cc Porsches. Ludovico Scarfiotti, recovered after his accident in Johannesburg in the South African Grand Prix on January 1, 1968, also takes to the track at the wheel of a car from the German manufacturer. Unfortunately, the Italian driver is forced to leave the competition after just 20 minutes. According to reports from the Porsche pits, Scarfiotti failed to get a gear in, sending the engine out of gear. At the start, German Herrmann's Porsche took the lead, followed by that of Englishman Elford, winner of the Monte-Carlo Rally a the first round of the championship, the 24 Hours of Daytona, Dave's Lola-Chevrolet and the Ford GT 40s of Hawkins and Ickx. After seven hours of racing, Hermann firmly holds the lead, still ahead of Elford. In third place settled Hawkins' Ford, followed by Steinemann's Porsche, which overtook the two Camaros of Donahue and Welch. The experimental turbine-powered Howmet of Thompson-Loweter is forced to retire.
On Sunday, March 30, 1968, Jackie Stewart, at the wheel of a French Malia single-seater, won the first Formula 2 Grand Prix of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, held in Barcelona on the fast Montjulch circuit. The Scotsman remained in command of the race from the first lap, without badly being Insidiato seriously by his opponents. On the other hand, two major favorites, Scot Jim Clark and Belgian Jacky Ickx, in Lotus-Ford and Dino-Ferrarl, respectively, are forced to retire after colliding with their cars. In second place is Frenchman Henri Pescarolo, also in a Matra, who precedes New Zealander Chris Amon, in the Dlno-Ferrari. All other competitors are lapped. Only nine of the twenty-two single-seaters in the race reach the finish line. A week later, on Sunday, April 7, 1968, Jim Clark, the Flying Scotsman, two-time World Champion for Formula 1 cars and considered the most prestigious driver of all time, passes away at 12:40 a.m. His single-seater car, a Lotus-Ford Formula 2 car, goes off the track at the Hockenheim circuit near Heidelberg, Germany, topples over in the air and crashes into a tree, breaking into three stumps. The driver lost his life almost instantly, with his head smashed between the headrest and the tree. It was his first time racing on the short Baden circuit, considered by many engineers to be more suited to motorcycle racing than car racing. The mishap is frightening and appears, at the moment, inexplicable, at least officially. Clark is in seventh position, has no competitor in front and no one behind, the nearest racer (the Englishman Irwìn) following him at least 250 meters behind. The Scotsman is coming out of a very wide turn (which is run at speeds close to 250 km/h) into a long straight. The course is at this point so undemanding to drivers, and therefore is deserted by spectators. Therefore, people who witnessed the accident can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They recount:
"We saw the Lotus suddenly swerve outward, at the height of the second kilometer after the start-finish line, recover, then proceed as if mad for half a kilometer, go off the road to the right, splash above the fences, pass bushes and crash into a tree crumbling".
No sign of braking. A service worker, who was ten yards from the spot where Jim Clark lost his life, and who remains miraculously unharmed (despite being grazed by the car), confesses that the rider did not take his foot off the gas pedal or reduce gear. For more than half a kilometer Clark would attempt to keep the light single-seater on the track, as he had succeeded countless times, without slowing down. The racing official believes the Lotus was traveling at speeds in excess of 200 km/h, perhaps 230 km/h.
"It was a horrible thing, it may have lasted a total of eight or ten seconds, but it was an eternity, like seen in slow motion".
Another racetrack attendant, standing halfway through Clark's skid, reports seeing how the racer tried to tame his car bravely and coolly.
"It seemed to me that he didn't want to give up".
Immediately after the crash, the race doctor, Rothenfelder, went to the scene of the accident.
"Clark was a prisoner of the car. I realized that there was nothing we could do. However, we pulled him from the wreckage of his gold leaf and took him by helicopter to the hospital in Heidelberg, 20 kilometers away. He arrived there dead".
Clark reports fractured cervical vertebrae and skull. The public following the race (about 80,000 people), who suddenly could no longer see the Scottish driver pass by, were told only that Clark had gone off the road. The race directors state:
"We did not want to sow panic".
The race continues smoothly. Only the runners know, in the mechanics' pits you notice nervousness and consternation. And so far nothing wrong. Motor races have their own laws, they continue even in the face of death. But the German organizers go further. After a break, they also kick off the second of the two heats into which the event was divided (in which Clark's teammate Graham Hill did not take to the track), and only an hour and a half after the disaster, when the carousel of cars had resumed, they made the announcement over loudspeakers, while the flags were brought to half-mast. A communiqué was read to the audience, invited to stand, saying:
"The first race of the Formula 2 German Trophy was overshadowed by a tragic event. Jim Clark, the two-time World Champion, has died. Probably due to a suspension failure in the car, Clark skidded and after 500 meters went off the track. An investigating committee of engineers is working to clarify the accident".
What were the causes of the mishap? Human error or technical defect? There are three versions, supported by specialists: Jim Clark did not know the track well, he was racing there for the first time in his life, he had tried it little in the past few days. That he was not at ease is shown by the fact that, contrary to his usual, he had not taken the lead, but found himself distanced; Jim Clark wanted to run on dry-road tires, refusing wet-road tires, although it had been raining all morning and a few drops were falling at the time of the start; the Lotus, powered by a 1600 cc Ford-Cosworth engine, had a suspension failure. It is the latter hypothesis that the engineers regard as the most likely. All agree that the accident happened for a mechanical reason, given the driver's experience and the spot, on the straight, in which it occurred. The body of former world motor racing champion Jim Clark will reach Scotland on Colin Chapman's personal plane bound for Edinburgh. Clark died a week before the date set for his return home after nine months spent racing on tracks around the world. The impression made by Clark's death is most vivid. The 32-year-old Scottish driver was unanimously considered the best racer of recent years, a true champion, on the same level as legendary champions such as Nuvolari or Fangio. The latter, commenting on Clark's passing, declared:
"He was the best driver of our time, and his passing represents a tragedy for motor sports. I know the Hockenheim track very well, it is a very fast circuit, and in the case of accidents on such tracks it is difficult to escape death".
On Monday, April 7, 1968, Attorney General Wilhelm Angelberger announces that the driver died almost instantly from fractured cervical vertebrae: subsequent examination revealed that Clark had also suffered several skull fractures. In addition, Angelberger states that the German judicial authority has concluded its investigation into the accident. The prosecutor adds that the investigation did not reveal any evidence to suggest that a third party was involved in the accident. On the question of whether the decisive cause of the accident was pilot error or mechanical failure. Angelberger states that this is not within the jurisdiction of the judicial authority and therefore this issue was not addressed in the short of the investigation. Colin Chapman, the Lotus team manager, flew in from Switzerland on Sunday evening to lead the investigation from a technical standpoint, but it is generally agreed that such an analysis will be virtually impossible, given the condition of the car that fell apart. However, Graham Hill, Clark's teammate, tells reporters that he believes that the Lotus suffered a steering failure, but, as noted above, it will not be easy to ascertain a possible mechanical defect. It is Graham Hill himself who takes on the painful task of informing Clark's family of the mournful accident. However, the Scottish driver's parents were visiting some friends, and it will be through them that they learn of the tragedy. Jackie Stewart, the other Scottish driver and Jim Clark's fraternal friend, receives the painful news in Madrid:
"I have never been faced with such a tragedy in my life. We all loved Jim because of his personality and because he was a gentleman even in racing".
The accident will forever seem inexplicable, considering the skill of Clark, a driver of exceptional preparation and coolness, a true master of the car. Jim Clark is also gone. It doesn't seem real. He was supposed to race in England, at Brands Hatch. Ford wanted to entrust the Scot and Graham Hill with its new three-liter prototype. The two had agreed. Their names appeared on the first entry list. Then, almost at the last moment, Clark had changed his mind. Lotus wanted a success in the European Formula 2 trophy, and Hockenheim was scheduled for the second round. Let's go to Hockenheim, Jim Clark and Colin Chapman had decided. Clark also had a personal reason for not racing in England. He had been at odds with the IRS for more than a year. The champion, in a 12-year career, had become a billionaire. He had houses, land, garages, his own plane. He was earning $200.000.000 to $250.000.000 a year: fees, prizes, advertising deals. At Indianapolis alone, in 1965, he had taken home $60.000.000 by winning the Indy 500. The IRS wanted his share, or what it felt he should get. And Jim would turn away. He joked about it.
"It's the opponent that makes me run the most".
Lately, he had set his residence in Paris, but he was soon to move to the Bahamas, where he had a house built.
"I will return to Scotland only when I stop racing. Then, perhaps, I will also find time to get married".
Little did he know that fate had already set his date on a gray, rainy April afternoon. He did know, however, that racing, at a certain level, is terribly dangerous.
"In every race there is risk: I, in the race, spend my time fighting it. Sometimes I make mistakes, and I get scared. Those are the only times I get angry. However, you can't drive for years and be afraid. It can only happen once in a while, or else you better change your profession".
Clark was a true professional. He had started racing at age 20. His father, a Scottish farmer, wanted to make him a field and livestock technician. Back then, on Kelso's farm, the Clarks had a thousand sheep and tended 1,200 acres of land. But Jim liked cars, engines, and racing. He began with the help of a neighbor, Scott Watson, who was manager of the Border Reivers stable. Jim had his first race behind the wheel of a DKW. He finished last. His first win came in 1958, in Watson's Porsche 1000. He was noticed by Reg Parnell, sporting director of Aston Martin, who went to James Clark, Jim's father.
"Why do you want to hire him?"
The father asked him.
"Because I think he's going to be World Champion".
"Then let's sign this contract".
Concluded James Clark. But the young Scot did not race with Astori Martin, because the British manufacturer never had a third single-seater to give him after the two assigned to Roy Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant. Clark was loaned to Lotus, and at Lotus he remained after Aston Martin withdrew from the sport in 1960. That year he took to the track for the first time in a Formula 1 car, in the Dutch Grand Prix. He began a partnership with Colin Chapman, a freshly graduated engineer who had preferred to give up secure employment to start a factory of tuned and racing cars. In the winter of 1961, Chapman perfected a revolutionary single-seater: low and narrow, almost a tube on four wheels. Clark served as his dummy. Day by day the bolide grew and adhered to Jim's figure. Everything was unprecedented, from the chassis to the suspension to the bodywork. Lying-down driving was born, the racing cars of the 1960s were born. The Clark-Chapman duo emerged from anonymity; in 1962 the Belgian Grand Prix inaugurated a series of incredible successes and achievements. Clark possessed all the gifts of the champion: concentration, courage, a sense of proportion, immediacy of judgment, exceptional quickness of reflexes. The Lotus was his car, the one that practically, in the logical evolution required each year by technology, was always built for him, for his talents. Many drivers used to say:
"It is an impossible car".
Gian Carlo Baghetti, who drove one at Monza last year, asked Clark:
"But how do you drive it like that? It's hard enough to go normal...".
There was a sympathetic smile in response. Enzo Ferrari, who knew a thing or two about racers, considered the Scot on par with Nuvolari and Fangio. But Fangio, one day, admitted quite honestly:
"Jim is stronger than me".
And, in fact, the Flying Scotsman (a nickname derived from a famous express train connecting London to Scotland) won an exceptional record in January, that of the number of Grands Prix won: 25, against the 24 obtained in his career by the Argentine. In addition, he had a triumph of his own: the Indy 500. But Clark, despite his success and money, was more or less the same as before. He was a serious man, no adventures or extra-sports facts were known about him. Small, petite, a wisp of brown hair over his eyes, his air slightly surly and distracted, he did not care to be a star. He arrived at the pits with gloves in his blue helmet (the color of the Border Reivers), his handkerchief around his neck. A few words with the mechanics, a quick exchange with Chapman, and then inside into the narrow cockpit of his green single-seater. Calm, serene gestures, waiting for the start. Like this, two, three, twenty times a year. Formula 1, Formula 2, Tasmanian Cup, lndy 500, Europe, the United States, Australia. A jumble of races, a jumble of circuits. The Scottish driver had confessed not long before:
"When in the middle of the season you wander nonstop from one track to another, I would like to stop for three days and do nothing more. But as soon as I stretch out in my Lotus, I forget about it. It is afterwards that one feels tired".
On Sunday, at Hockenheim, it was his Lotus that betrayed him. He tried to dominate it, calmly, for ten very long seconds. Then, at only 32 years old, he crossed the final finish line. It really cannot be believed. The car crash in which two-time World Champion Jim Clark lost his life has been called by motor racing experts the most enigmatic, absurd and paradoxical accident ever to occur on a racetrack. Jim Clark killed himself on a stretch of road considered perfectly safe, a near-straight stretch of over two kilometers that bends slightly to the right for less than 20 degrees, on which speeds of 220-240 km/h are considered normal. He was alone, in seventh position, 400 meters off the lead group (it was lap five, just over 30 kilometers of the German Trophy for Formula 2 cars had been run) and followed by Englishman Chris Irwin no less than 250 meters behind. He was - according to German racer Kurt Ahrens - in the safe condition of an ordinary motorist proceeding at 110-120 km/h on a straight. How, then, could the most victorious of champions, who recently, in Johannesburg, broke Fangio's record of 25 Formula One victories, come off the road? At the present time, thirty-six hours after the accident, there is no official explanation and we are limited to suppositions based on the accounts of very few eyewitnesses. They have unanimously reported that suddenly, halfway down the straight, for unexplained reasons, Clark's 1600 cc Ford Cosworth-engined Lotus skidded to the left, toward the outside of the arch. Promptly the racer picked it up, but it skidded to the right, coming out with two wheels on the grass. Spectators expected the car to slow and straighten.
But Clark continued at full speed (certainly over 200 mph) a crazy serpentine, faster and tighter, as if he were a rookie. At the fourth or fifth skid, the Scotsman's red-and-gold bolide spun to the left, overtook the grass strip, which divides the sand safety strip from the fence, which is supposed to restrain the cars, knocked down the second metal fence in the air and crashed like a bullet into a large tree some 20 meters away from the track. For all 550 yards of skidding, Clark never lifted his foot off the accelerator, reduced gear, or braked. On this all agree those few (five or six people) who saw the Flying Scotsman die. During the seven to eight seconds-very long-that it took his car to travel that half kilometer completely clear and nearly dry, Jim Clark did nothing to stop his raging fireball. For the German judiciary, the Clark case is closed. The Mannheim state prosecutor's office found that the runway was in order, that Clark was not obstructed, that there was therefore no third-party liability, and gave the go-ahead for the body to be transported to Scotland, also waiving the autopsy. But for technicians, and for motorists, the enigma remains: why did it happen, how could it happen? Versions, based on clues and assumptions, are varied. Lotus mechanics, who swear by the qualities of Jim Clark ("he drove like a god, he never made mistakes, he was a safety fanatic") suspect a fault, but in the steering rather than the suspension. Of the same opinion are Clark's close friend, former World Champion Graham Hill (who was among the first to rush to the scene of the mishap, refusing to continue the race as the German organizers would have wished) and the other Englishman Chris Irwin, the racer who was following Clark and who saw him skid from a distance.
"Jim was the best of us, our teacher. There is no way he could have made a mistake, and on a straight stretch to boot".
What, then, happened? The technical investigation will have to answer this haunting question. Lotus manufacturer Colin Chapman, who arrived from London to Hockenheim during the night of Monday, April 8, 1968, had all the wreckage of Jim's car collected and brought to England for examination. If the car had broken down, the investigation will reveal this in a few weeks. If, on the other hand, there was no failure, it will have to be inferred that Clark was either taken ill or that he overestimated his own ability when his car began to skid. Only one thing is certain: Clark neither slowed down nor braked; why may never be known. On Tuesday evening Clark's body will be flown to Edinburgh, where the champion's parents will be waiting. Jim Clark was to return to Scotland on Sunday, April 14, 1968, after a nine-month absence, to see his elderly parents on the Kelso farm where he grew up. Kelso is a small farming town in southern Scotland in Berwick County, among soft fells near the border with England. Here his 73-year-old father James and 70-year-old mother Helen continue to tend the land and raise sheep and cattle. Sunday, however, was a holiday, so they had arranged to visit a family of friends on another farm in the afternoon. And from them they learned that Jim had died.
"We had just gotten out of the car and they had seen a brief flash on television. And they informed us...".
Soon after, one of the runner's four sisters (all married) drove them home.
"I don't know what we are going to do now, I haven't thought about it yet. We were expecting him home for next weekend. His mother had never wanted him to be a racer, but the automobile was his life; I didn't want him to embrace this profession either, but we had to resign ourselves and we were very proud of him. Now it's over...".
At Kelso, they are convinced he would one day return to the land. Says William Campbell, one of the farm's factors:
"The last time he was here, we walked around the whole property together. I felt that his love was still firmly rooted in this countryside. He recognized the trees one by one. He was like a son to me: he was only six years old when I had first met him. He was good and simple, and success had not changed him. Last year his sheep had been honored at the county agricultural show".
By an absurd twist of fate, or more simply by sheer causality, while Jim Cark's passing was being mourned in Germany, against all odds on Sunday, April 7, 1968, Ford managed to overtake Porsche in the Brands Hatch 500, the third round of the Sportscar World Championship. The surprising victory was not, however, captured by the new three-liter prototype entrusted to Bruce McLaren and Mike Spence, but by the GT 40 of Belgian Jacky Ickx and Englishman Brian Redman. The two concluded their effort by covering 218 laps of the circuit at an average speed of 154.49 km/h. Ickx, to whom the main credit for the victory goes for driving the car the longest, sped across the finish line twenty seconds ahead of the Porsche 907 of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Gerhard Mltter, followed closely by the Porsche of Vic Elford and Jochen Neerpasch. Fourth was the Ford GT 40 of Paul Hawkms and David Hobbs. Official Ferraris were absent. The two big attractions of the Brands Hatch race, the experimental turbine car of Dick Thompson and the Ford prototype of McLaren and Spence, disappointed. The turbine car went off the road on lap 7, with no consequences for Thompson, who was behind the wheel at the time. The Ford prototype held up until the expiration of the fourth hour, eventually giving out due to a broken rubber seal between the engine and the steering wheel column. The car was the one that, according to the original schedule, Jim Clark would have driven, if the Scot, in a last-minute decision, had not preferred the German circuit of Hockenheim.
A lot of work had gone on to get Spain back on the World Championship calendar, and the creation of a purpose built circuit 30 kilometres away from the capital was a huge step in the right direction. The new Jarama circuit had been completed in 1967, and had already hosted a Formula 1 race, won by Jim Clark, although a few changes were made after their comments. Cones were replaced by kerbs, loose gravel removed for tarmac, and safety barriers lowered to actually catch flying cars, resulting in a track that could hold up to slowly evolving standards in Formula 1 circuits. Unfortunately, the pre-season since the opening round in Kyalami, over five months earlier than the Spanish meeting, had been dominated by events in the first weeks of April and May. Clark had won the season opening round in South Africa, a victory that had made him immortal in the Formula 1 realm as he overtook the record of Juan Manuel Fangio for race wins. Fate, however, decided to play a different hand after that, and in heavy rain during a Formula Two race at Hockenheim, the Scot went off at full throttle and slammed into the unprotected trees, a rumoured suspension failure cited as the reason for the car leaving the circuit. The obliterated car saw the Scot killed on impact, leaving many to question their futures in the sport, if only briefly.
It would not get any better for Team Lotus later on in the break, with the British outfit loaning Mike Spence and putting him in a car to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. The Englishman had just set the second fastest time ever at the Brickyard when he hit the wall on the outside of turn one, destroying the suspension. The impact threw the right front wheel into the cockpit at speed, killing Spence on impact as he received huge head injuries, although he would officially be declared dead at the circuit hospital. Colin Chapman was heartbroken at the loss of his friend Clark, and the death of Spence a month later saw him go into a self-imposed period of mourning ahead of the Spanish weekend. When the Spanish Grand Prix finally rolled around Chapman still refused to attend the race, sending only one car for Graham Hill to use. The Englishman, despite seeing two close friends buried in the space of a month, was in a relatively good position ahead of the weekend, being among the few to have tasted Jarama in the Formula 1 race back in October. A second Lotus would be in the hands of Jo Siffert and the Rob Walker Racing Team for the weekend, as the works team failed to get a second car prepared for Jackie Oliver to race. B.R.M. were also down to a single car effort with the demise of Spence, with Pedro Rodríguez their only driver but getting hold of the newest car, the P133.
This was one of a number of cars getting the new B.R.M. V12 engine, as the factory team provided a second car for Reg Parnell Racing to run, with Tim Parnell entering Piers Courage as the driver. The factory Cooper team were also running the V12 engines, once again fielding Brian Redman and Ludovico Scarfiotti, recovered from his South African scoulding, while Bernard White Racing had managed to elbow in a V12 B.R.M. into an old P261 for David Hobbs, although thy were delayed in arrival. Jo Bonnier was another with a different combination, having bought Hulme's McLaren from the start of the season with the developmental version of the V12. Elsewhere, McLaren had a pair of freshly built cars for Bruce McLaren and defending World Champion Denny Hulme, with the latter proving just how good the new cars were. Victories in two pre-season races, the XX B.R.D.C. International Trophy and the III Race of Champions, had given the team a huge boost, with their Ford Cosworth engines also running trouble free. The engine had also been doing the rounds at Matra, although with Jackie Stewart out of action after breaking his wrist in a Formula Two race (ironically at Jarama), it was down to Jean-Pierre Beltoise to up hold the Matra International banner on his own, using their latest chassis.
Completing a rather depleted field were the Ferrari duo of Jacky Ickx and Chris Amon, both racing in unmodified cars. Brabham-Repco had a new car on display, the gaffer taking over the new BT26 for the weekend, leaving Jochen Rindt with the pick of the older cars. The Hondola was back in the hands of John Surtees, now featuring the updates that officially designated it as a RA301, while an official Lola could be found in the hands of a local, Jorge de Bagration entered as the driver of a ballasted up Formula Two car. Victory for Clark at Kyalami had seen him top the early standings, a performance that looked fairly ominous for the rest of the field before his tragic accident. Hill had finished a healthy second and would have potentially been the only challenger to the Scot, having equal machinery, and only time would tell whether the Lotus-Ford Cosworth reliability issues from 1967 would return. Jochen Rindt, Chris Amon, Denny Hulme and Jean-Pierre Beltoise were the other first round scorers. There was a great deal of variety on the board for the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers after the opening round, although the advantage at the top was very much in favour of Team Lotus. They headed the pack with a five point gap over Brabham-Repco, with Anglo-Aussie effort opening a second title defence. Ferrari, McLaren-B.R.M. and Matra-Ford Cosworth were the other scorers, the latter of that trio scoring their first points.
Practice were scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with Friday getting two and a half hours of running split over two sessions, before a final two hour run on Saturday. The weather would be fairly consistent throughout, the extreme heat of the early Spanish summer being countered by a mountain breeze, meaning all three sessions were good enough to see quick times. Speaking of target times, Jim Clark held the Formula 1 lap record, a 1'28"8, although the circuit record of 1'28"2 had been set by Jean-Pierre Beltoise in a Formula Two race in April. What immediately became clear was the need for drivers to learn the twisty circuit, demonstrated by the fact that the quickest runners in the opening session had all experienced the circuit before in the non-Championship round. The other telling factor would be that the most powerful cars were not enjoying their usual advantage, as the low speed corners were immediately followed by low speed corners. The combination of these factors meant that Pedro Rodríguez ended up with the fastest time of the day, set during the first session. Indeed, the Mexican racer would be the only one to dip under the circuit record, a surprise given the fact that the B.R.M. he was driving was brand new. This was a stark contrast to the Cosworth engined contingent, who were all struggling with poor pickup out of the slow corners. The Ferraris were running marginally better, with Jacky Ickx struggling with his engine throughout the first session.
Brabham-Repco would not run at all during the first session, their transporter having had trouble getting to the circuit, leaving Jochen Rindt on his own in the paddock. Fortunately for the young Austrian, the team were ready to run the older BT24 as soon as the session opened, allowing him to get on with his usual programme, while the team could focus on setting up the new BT26 for the gaffer. Rodriguez, meanwhile, could not improve on his earlier time in the spare B.R.M., and when Chris Amon and Denny Hulme dead heated for the fastest time of the afternoon, some two tenths slower than the Mexican's morning time, many thought Rodriguez was destined for pole. Saturday's only session would start late in the day, giving teams plenty of time to prepare their cars, with McLaren taking the time to replace the engines in both of their cars. Brabham, meanwhile, had completed the work on the new car, with Jack Brabham taking his team's latest creation for a shakedown the moment the session opened, while the rest of the field went to try and best Rodriguez. Most drivers would find time in the late afternoon sun, Rodriguez being one of the only exceptions, leaving Amon to find another half a second to snatch away pole position in the middle of the session. Amon's lap was just in time, for any serious attempts at setting pole laps were ended by Piers Courage when his B.R.M. dumped oil through the first part of the lap.
Brabham was one of the few to persist on running despite the lack of grip, and the Australian was duly rewarded when his new car dumped its own oil over the circuit in the same place, definitely ending any chance of running, let alone fast times. Unfortunately, Bruce McLaren was just behind the dying Brabham, and when the New Zealander hit the oil there was little that could be done to keep his new car out of the safety barriers. Brabham's weekend was over as the team did not have any race capable engines left to fit the car, while McLaren's mechanics would have to spend the whole night rebuilding the front end of their boss' car in time for Sunday. On sunday would be another day of intense sun and mountain winds, with the only one track action scheduled to be the Grand Prix itself. The crowd size would be disappointing given the proximity to Madrid, matching a rather downsized grid once Jack Brabham officially withdrew his new car. Everyone else would be up and running after a warm-up session in the morning, before assembling on the grid for the start. When the flag fell, it was Pedro Rodríguez who stole the advantage, shooting through from the middle of the front row to lead into the first corner. His quick start opened the door for Jean-Pierre Beltoise to climb into second, as the Frenchman also took the other two front row starters leaving them to fight over third. By the end of the first tour it was Chris Amon who triumphed over Denny Hulme, to lead a chase group containing John Surtees, Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill as they chased down the fastest starters.
As Jochen Rindt joined the race after getting stuck on the grid, using his usual throttle driven technique to make ground, the top three were already beginning to pull away. Rodriguez and Beltoise were working hard to keep Amon at bay, who was handed a crucial advantage in the chase group once Surtees snuck past Hulme. Over the following laps, the defending World Champion would get past the Honda, while Bruce McLaren tumbled as he began to struggle with understeer, a problem caused by having to use narrower front wheels after his car was rebuilt. Time slowly saw Hulme and then Hill catch the back of the leading trio, with Surtees joining McLaren in the battle to be the best of the rest. At lap ten it was still Rodriguez leading from Beltoise, Amon, Hulme and Hill, and while Surtees keeping McLaren at arms length, it meant there were six different chassis and engine combinations in the top six. Elsewhere, Jo Siffert was shadowing McLaren in his older Lotus 49, Piers Courage lost eight laps with an overheating issue, while Rindt was carving his way through the order, until his engine lost all of its oil pressure. As the leaders started the eleventh lap there was finally a change for the lead, when a smoke trailing Matra-Ford Cosworth suddenly dived down the inside of the leading B.R.M. Beltoise snatched the lead into the first corner of lap twelve, with Rodriguez opting not to force the issue as it looked as if the Frenchman's sudden smoke trail was terminal. The Mexican was left to rue that decision, as Amon took Rodriguez's sudden drop in pace to snatch second away in the Ferrari. The new status quo would be maintained until lap fifteen, when Beltoise's engine finally became a serious concern, with the team calling him in to find the source of the oil leak.
A quick tighten of the oil filter only partially fixed the issue, and a stop on the next lap saw the car put onto jacks and the oil filter taken off, with the mechanics deciding to replace the sealing ring. Amon was therefore left at the head of the leading group, while Siffert dropped off the back of McLaren when his petrol tank sprung a leak which coated his pedals with fuel. It took a while for things to reignite once again, with Rodriguez taking until lap twenty five before he managed to wind himself up enough to have a go at Amon. For four laps the Mexican tried every trick in the book to try and get past the New Zealander, only to be denied by a lack of space and excellent defending on the narrow Jarama bends. Then, while trying to position his car for a strong exit out of one corner, the Mexican caught the edge of the edge of the dust, jerked left, and, after a trip through some poorly placed catch fencing, found himself climbing out of a ruined B.R.M. when it crumpled itself on the secondry safety barrier. With an unhurt Rodriguez out of the race, Amon was left with a huge advantage at the front of the field as the Mexican's attack had pushed the pair of them well up the road of Hill and Hulme. The latter had benefited from the former's lack of tow to get the more developed Lotus ahead of the McLaren, although he had been unable to re-catch the ongoing battle. The combined result was therefore a fifteen second advantage in favour of the Ferrari over the Lotus, with Hulme tagging onto Hill's back but unable, or unwilling, to attack. A rather processional race developed from that point, the only entertainment provided by the exuberant style of Beltoise, who had decided to just throw the Matra around the circuit now he had nothing to fight for.
He looked likely to take a painfully slow Siffert, who was still struggling on with a gearbox problem, his leaking tank having been isolated in a mid-race stop. The two Cooper-B.R.M.s were running together a lap down and well off the pace, Brian Redman doing a good job in keeping race winning teammate Ludovico Scarfiotti at bay, while McLaren and Surtees were the remaining runners on the lead lap while carrying their own issues. Yet, the leading New Zealander would be cruelly denied victory once again, this time caused by a fuel pump failure just moments after the Ferrari had passed the pits. Try as he might, Amon could not persuade the Ferrari to restart, as Siffert reduced the field down to just seven runners when his gearbox had cried enough. Amon was therefore left to take an agonising walk back to the pits, as Hulme began to wind himself up for a go at the lead that Hill had just inherited. On lap 64 the building pressure in Hulme's car was finally released, with the New Zealander beginning to show his nose to the Lotus. Hill, however, had the advantage of being a wily defender, aided by the fact that Jarama's narrow layout was not helpful for overtaking, as Rodriguez had found out to his cost. Hulme's best chance for the lead came five laps into the battle when the pair began to catch McLaren, whose wounded car was now limping around with a cracked exhaust. Hill prepared himself to get into a scrap with Hulme's new teammate, but rather than make things difficult, McLaren decided to do the sporting thing on lap 72 and wave the pair of them through, a move which ruined his team's chances of a first victory.
The stalemate at the front of the field would continue to the flag, as Hulme's every move was predicted by a resilient Hill, who duly collected the first post-Clark victory for Team Lotus. Hulme was left in a frustrated second after a late gearbox problem, while both Surtees and McLaren would drop out of the race, the latter doing so just a few laps after he let the leaders by. The late retirements left just five finishers, and let Redman claim a maiden podium finish, with Scarfiotti and Beltoise claiming the final points. Graham Hill took over control of the World Championship with his first victory in over a season, taking over from the late Jim Clark who had dropped to second. Denny Hulme was into third as the new McLaren-Ford Cosworth ignited his title defence, with Jochen Rindt slipping to fourth, level on points with Brian Redman. The luckless Chris Amon found himself level on points with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, the latter rounding out the eight scorers. Lotus-Ford Cosworth were heading the charge in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, having scored maximum points at the first two rounds. McLaren-Ford Cosworth were up to second thanks to Hulme, whose work also left them ahead of his old employers Brabham-Repco. The defending Champions were tied on points with Cooper-B.R.M. and one ahead of Ferrari, with Matra-Ford Cosworth and McLaren-B.R.M. (the old McLaren factory car) rounding out the table.
Disappeared poor Jim Clark in Germany, it was Graham Hill's turn to lead the Lotus-Ford to success in the Spanish Grand Prix, the second round of the Formula 1 World Championship, held at the Jarama circuit, a few kilometers from Madrid. Hill asserted himself in 2 hours 15'20"1, at an average speed of 135.842 km/h. Behind the Englishman, who moved into the lead of the World Championship with 15 points (in South Africa he had finished second after Clark), came the defending champion, Denny Hulme, in the McLaren-Ford, Brian Redman, in the Cooper-B.R.M., Ludovico Scarflotti, at the wheel of another Cooper-B.R.M., and the Frenchman Beltoise, in the Matra-Ford, to whom goes the fastest lap: 1'28"3, at an average speed of 139 km/h. Of note were the regular tests of Brian Redman and Ludovico Scarfiotti, in the Cooper-Brm, cars inferior to their rivals. Scarfiotti returned to single-seater driving after his Jan. 1 accident in South Africa.
"I was content to make a quiet race, and everything went well".
Five drivers in all out of the 13 started. The other eight had to stop along the way. These included Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, in the 12-cylinder Ferraris. The young Belgian stopped after a few laps due to engine trouble, while Amon gave up on the fifty-seventh lap. It has now been two years since Ferrari won a Formula One World Championship race: the last time was in September 1966, at Monza, when Ludovico Scarfìotti won the Italian Grand Prix. On Sunday, on the winding Jarama circuit, the Maranello team came very close to success with Chris Amon. A fuel pump failure stalled the New Zealander's red single-seater while he was leading by 20 seconds from Graham Hill's Lotus-Ford, which then had a clear path. It's not just drivers who make competitions lose. Amon and fellow youngster Jacky Ickx have been accused of poor effort in recent times. The New Zealander had been forced to take a month's rest, while the Belgian - it was said - was not rendering enough. Yet, Ickx was forced to retire after about ten laps, and the same fate befell Amon halfway through the race, after a brilliant duel with Pedro Rodriguez. The Mexican, carried away by his eagerness, set a trajectory wrong and ended up on an oil slick, running off the track and smashing his B.R.M. Amon. on the other hand, showed that he has increased his experience, and can now master the Ferrari's power on the right edge. Now, it is the cars that are acting up.
With the defeat suffered in Spain Ferrari has seriously jeopardized its chances of success in the championship, of which the Spanish Grand Prix is the second round after the South African Grand Prix. It is a delicate period for the Modenese manufacturer, which does not participate in the Sportscar World Championship and seemed determined to bet everything on Formula 1. And instead, it now seems intent on not participating in the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix. Ferrari needs to win, not least because of the influence that sporting achievements have on the commercial level. Instead, for one reason or another, it just collects disappointment after disappointment. For Lotus, Graham Hill's achievement was an injection, of confidence. The British stable lost its champion, Jim Clark, and at Indianapolis saw one of its old drivers, Mike Spence, lose his life behind the wheel of one of the new turbine-powered cars. Graham Hill moved into the World Championship lead with 15 points: second ih South Africa behind poor Clark, first at Jarama. For the likeable British driver a new career begins at 39? Hill has already won a World Championship title, is married, with two children, and this, probably, is his last season. He would like to end it well, nothing better than another title. The date, now, is for Monte-Carlo, Sunday, May 26, 1968. Ferrari will be absent, missing one of the most interesting motives for revenge. And it is a pity for Italian sportsmen, who have always been at home in the Principality.