Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Carlo Carluccio
– 1963: Jim Clark drives his Lotus 25 to his first win of the 1963 season at Spa
– 1974: Jody Scheckter wins his first ever Grand Prix on this day
Jim Clark drives his Lotus 25 to his first win of the 1963 season at Spa
In a season that would culminate in his first World Drivers’ Championship and the first Constructors’ trophy for, Lotus’ Jim Clark won his first race of the 1963 season at Spa. Jim Clark’s victory record of seven Grand Prix wins in a season wouldn’t be beaten until Senna took the Championship with 8 victories in 1988, 25 years later.
The Lotus 25 was the first fully-stressed monocoque chassis to appear in F1. Legend has it that the original sketches for this were made on napkins whilst Colin Chapman and the Lotus chassis designer, Mike Costin, were dining out. The monocoque made the car more rigid, and such has been its effect on motor racing that today’s modern F1 cars still follow its basic design principles.
Clark and the Lotus 25’s first Grand Prix victory was in Belgium in 1962.
This was followed by a further two victories that year, in Britain and the USA. He suffered an engine failure whilst leading the final race in South Africa, ultimately costing him the title to Graham Hill.
The first race of the 1963 season, at Monaco, saw Clark on pole position, but he retired with a gearbox failure whilst leading the race, 22 laps from the finish.
Clark suffered more gearbox problems during qualifying for the 1963 Belgian GP. Running on the original, daunting, 8.761 miles Spa Francorchamps circuit, he qualified eighth.
The conditions at the start of the race were damp, and Clark made an extraordinary start to lead the field and pulled away with Graham Hill following.
Around the 17th lap, a storm broke out over the track, Hill suffered a gearbox failure, which promoted Gurney into second position. Bruce McLaren had fallen back, but after passing Ginther and then Gurney, he finished second to Clark, nearly FIVE minutes behind – and Clark hated Spa …
Jody Scheckter won his first ever Grand Prix on this day
At the Swedish GP at Anderstop, the seventh round of the 1974 season, Jody Scheckter won his first ever Grand Prix.
There was much excitement in the build-up to this race, as the Swedish superstar Ronnie Peterson had won the previous race at Monaco. The Tyrrells, driven by Depailler and Scheckter, had qualified on the front row followed by the Ferraris of Lauda and Regazzoni on the second row.
Scheckter took the lead from the start and was followed by Peterson until lap nine, when the Lotus retired with drive-shaft failure. On lap 24, Regazzoni retired with a gearbox failure and Lauda, who was third, was having issues with his rear suspension, which allowed James Hunt to catch him.
It wasn’t until the 66th lap that Hunt managed to get ahead. Lauda retired a few laps later. Hunt chased the Tyrrells but couldn’t catch them, and Scheckter became the sixth winner in seven races.
Scheckter would go on to win nine more Grands Prix, culminating in winning the 1979 World Drivers’ Championship for Ferrari, before leaving the sport after the 1980 season. His career spanned one of the most dangerous decades in F1, and his early exuberance in F1 gained him a reputation that could be compared to Grosjean or Maldonado in the current era.
“This madman is a menace to himself and everybody else and does not belong in Formula 1.” – Emerson Fittipaldi
In the next race, […]
After Silverstone, the Grand Prix Drivers Association demanded his immediate banishment, which was only put off when McLaren agreed to rest their driver for four races.
In much the same way that Alan Prost, after his Renault was hit by the Ferrari of Didier Pironi in Germany in 1982, was never the same driver in the wet, Scheckter also abandoned his reckless driving after witnessing the accident of Francois Cevert.
During practice for the 1973 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen he was following Cevert, who was to be his team-mate for the following season, when Cevert crashed at the fast uphill Esses. Scheckter stopped his McLaren in an attempt to get Cevert out, but the 29 year old Frenchman had been cut in half by the poorly installed Armco barriers and was already dead.
Six years later, he quietly won the World Championship, as an electrifying Villeneuve wowed the crowds with accidents and bravado. In 1980, when finishing his final race in F1, he sang “Show me the way to go home” to himself.