Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 8

Jim Clark at the wheel: The world motor racing champion’s own story

By Jim Clark; Publish Date: 1966; Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster (New York), Paperback, 174 pages

The eighth book in my review series is Jim Clark at the wheel, by World Champion Jim Clark. Written at the time he was reaching the pinnacle of the sport, Clark tells the story of his beginnings on the family farm in Fife, Scotland, then climbing through the various levels of racing to ultimately becoming an international grand prix champion.

Jim Clark writes in-depth about his relationship with constructor and Lotus team owner, Colin Chapman. He also discusses his personal philosophy and approach to driving. Clark’s legacy is that of a precise, tactical, and measured driver. His level of success and achievements have consistently placed him in the conversation about who is the greatest Formula 1 driver ever.

The book chronicles Clark’s F1 career up through his 1963 World Championship. He also discusses his fascination with racing in America, and his exploits at Indianapolis. He finished 2nd in 1963 to Parnelli Jones in a somewhat controversial finish but left his mark by claiming rookie of the year honors. A publisher’s note at the end of the final chapter, just prior to the book’s release, lists Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 win and 2nd F1 World Championship. 

I found the most fascinating part of the book was his first-hand account of the 1961 accident at Monza which killed Ferrari driver Wolfgang von Trips. Not only had Clark been involved in the 2-car fatal crash of a friend, but he also had to endure the chaotic aftermath in which Italian officials were determined to place blame. The incident and legal inquiry led him to question the risks involved with racing and possibly leave the sport. Clark overcame these challenges and never lost belief in himself and his abilities. 

The book concludes with an appendix of statistics outlining his full driving record, achievements, and awards. It’s an impressive twenty-two pages of greatness.

Finally, I have to make mention of the cover art illustration for this book. It’s simply stunning. I was surprised that there was no attribution to the artist or a listing of a name. I could see a print of that beautiful cover art nicely framed and mounted someday on my office wall. The search continues!

Jim Clark at the wheel was written years before his untimely death in 1968. It’s a personal account of his ongoing career, along with thoughts on his driving style and approach to racing. I had this book years ago as a kid and was delighted to find another copy during one of my used bookstore searches. It’s a great book and deserves a place in any motor racing enthusiast’s library.

TJ ….2020

About terryjohnsen

Writer/photographer of vintage/historic sports car racing. See you at the track! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terry Johnsen and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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