JIM CLARK TRIBUTE TO A CHAMPION, BY ERIC DYMOCK
The definitive book on Jim Clark is now available as an ebook. On April 7 1968 a Los Angeles disc jockey urged drivers, “If you are mourning the death of the great racer Jim Clark, put on your headlights”. The whole freeway lit up at midday. More than 40 years later Clark’s reputation as the greatest natural driver in the history of motor racing remains just as bright.
Reviewers called Eric Dymock’s biography of the two-times world champion driver: “Compulsive reading, thoroughly recommended,” The Automobile. “You must read this: Book of the Month, Classic Cars. “An absolute must for every enthusiast, Classic and Sports Car Book of the Month. “Compelling, Motor Sport. “The most penetrating study of the 1960s world champion yet published,” Speedscene. The highly regarded hardback was runner-up for the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Montagu Award and instrumental in gaining the author the Jim Clark Memorial Award for 2004.
Auto Express; “A tribute that concentrates on the man rather than the cars he drove. Eric Dymock knew Clark from his youth and provides a probing insight…. a refreshing change from race-by-race car-by-car driver biographies.”
Asked how long it took to write, the author once replied: “About 30 years... Or something like ten or twelve months. The 29 years were spent thinking about it.”
Eric Dymock: “Not long after Jim died I was approached to do a book, but at that time I could not. I needed to think about it. The accident at Hockenheim was a profound shock. Walter Hayes head of Ford Public Affairs, like many of us, was at Brands Hatch at the BOAC 500. Sally Stokes, Jim's girlfriend, was in Holland. Jackie Stewart was in Spain. When I was researching the book they could all remember the dismay, the sheer disbelief, of learning Jim Clark had died in a racing car - so unthinkable they had never really thought about it. None of us had. We’ve watched later generations trying to cope with their calamities when Gilles Villeneuve died at Zolder, or Ayrton Senna at Imola. I couldn't write this book then.”
Other books on the shy nail-biting world champion covered his racing career, described his rise to stardom, recalled his character. This paints a portrait, pins down the qualities that made him admired and respected to explain how, his modesty, his sportsmanship and his lustre are undimmed.
“I had to try and capture this shaft of light. I knew I could accomplish it because I was there throughout his career. I had encouragement from Jim's sisters. I had encouragement from Jackie Stewart. Above all, I had encouragement from Ford Motor Company and from Walter Hayes. He not only felt it was time to take a new look at Jim Clark: he felt it was time to sum up an era of motor racing on which he, Hayes, had had a big influence.”
Eric Dymock treasures tributes from those who knew Clark. Ronnie Dalglish, the Scottish rally driver who features in the famous Graham Gauld photograph of 1955, told him the narrative was absolutely true to life. The late Walter Hayes wrote in a review that it, “goes as far as any biography ever will in explaining Clark’s genius.” Hayes also wrote that Jim Clark’s sisters told him they thought the content “good and true” and, “having been lucky enough to have a hand in his career – I think the same.” Hayes also wrote privately to the author: “I finished it very late last night (couldn’t put it down until the last page arrived) and decided that nobody will ever better define Jimmy or, for that matter, any great racing driver.” Dan Gurney wrote to the author. “Your beautiful Jim Clark book has arrived.
I am terribly moved not only by the way in which you included me, but by all the memories the writing and the photographs managed to evoke.” Ian Scott Watson, who set Clark on his career to stardom, wrote in Scottish Field “… the sort of book you will not lay down until you have read it cover to cover; it is the definitive book on Jim Clark; it is a must for the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in motor sport. It is a book which stands out as a remarkable tribute not only to Jim but to its author.
Sally Stokes, Clark’s long-time love had the last word, “What a magnificent piece of writing. I know Jimmy would be touched by such a tribute.”