THE BRITISH INVASION
wispy little sheep farmer with a flimsy
car painted green and its engine in the
wrong place. Jim Clark and his Lotus-Ford
were hardly imposing figures when they
unloaded at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway for the first time in 1963.
The Indianapolis 500 was the richest,
deadliest and most prestigious motor
race in the world, and had a reputation
for sending drivers back home, into
retirement or to the morgue.
It required muscles, balls, focus and
unwavering confidence to horse around a
roadster for four hours, and was certainly
no place for “gentlemen racers.” So the
slight-built, introverted Scotsman hardly
drew any second looks, let alone concern,
from the USAC brigade in Gasoline Alley.
“I didn’t give those Formula 1 guys a
lot of respect and neither did A.J.,”
declares Parnelli Jones, who along with
A.J. Foyt ruled USAC racing in the 1960s.
“We were the rough, backyard bullies and
they were those polite road racers with
funny accents who thought they were
better than everyone else.
“But he was a nice guy and he caught on
to oval racing pretty quick,” he adds. “I was
impressed because he was a helluva talent.”
Fifty years ago, Clark put his stamp on
the history books by demoralizing the
competition and leading 190 of the 200
laps on the way to capturing the 1965
Indy 500. It was his lone win in five starts
from 1963-’ 67 yet, with just a little extra
nudge from the racing gods, he could
easily have been a two- or even
three-time winner at the Brickyard.
But it wasn’t just that dominating drive
in ’ 65 that makes the quiet Scot so
Imperious in his Ford-powered Lotus
38, Jim Clark scythes past Len Sutton’s
Vollstedt on the way to victory in the
1965 Indianapolis 500. The Scot led
four times for 190 of the 200 laps.
1965: DOMINATION DAY