While perusing my collection of mid-1960s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press kits, I found this photo of Jimmy Clark sitting in a Ford Model T sprint car. Let me tell you the story behind this photo.
In 1965, Ford Motor Company entered two Lotus powered by Ford specials in the Indianapolis 500. In the process of developing these racers, the company developed the 495 horsepower Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine available for use by the entire racing fraternity.
The 1965 Ford Motor Company press kit explaining their entries included this photograph showing the old and new look at Indianapolis. A Lotus-Ford is in the foreground with Jimmy Clark trying out the cockpit of the vintage sprint car in the background. What a contrast between 48 years of technological development, front-engine versus rear-engine, four-cylinder versus eight-cylinder, and valve-in-head versus double-overhead-cam!
In 1963, Clark won “Rookie of the Year” honors for placing second in a Ford-powered Lotus entry. Clark earned the coveted pole position with a speed of 158.828 mph in 1964 in another Lotus-Ford. Unfortunately, he dropped out of the race after 47 laps with mechanical failure.
The third time would be the charm for Jim Clark driving the Lotus powered by Ford entry to first place in 1965 Indianapolis 500. A second Lotus-Ford driven by Bobby Johns finished seventh. The Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine powered a number of other entries in this race.
So, that’s the story of Jimmy Clark sitting in a sprint car. I often wondered how would Jimmy Clark do driving around a ½ mile dirt track in a 1960s era sprint car? I guess that’s a discussion for another day.
For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.