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  • Writer's pictureTodd Rose

Clark: A poem by Todd Rose

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Jim Clark sits in his Lotus 38, the first rear engined car to win the Indianapolis 500, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo)

NOTE: I can’t remember why or when, but some time ago I was scouring through driver Wikipedia pages and started reading Jim Clark’s. Now, Jim has always been a huge racing hero of mine event tough I was born almost 30 years after his premature death.

So, when reading about his life and accomplishments, there wasn’t too much new stuff for me to learn. However, something did stick out to me. The line, “Many drivers including Surtees and Brabham were convinced that the crash was caused by a deflating rear tyre and were adamant that it was not a driver error—simply because they believed Clark was not capable of making such a mistake.”

Mostly the last part, “...Clark was not capable of making such a mistake.”

This book, which features stories from Clark's contemporaries, has accompanied me to many racetracks since I found it at a used bookstore in May of 2019.

It was a sentence that stuck in my head for weeks and I so badly wanted to turn it into another poem. So, I came up with the Idea to build from the singular word that is the title, “Clark.” From there, the first line of the first stanza features two words of the sentence, the first of the second four, and so on until the full line is built and serves as the final line of the poem.

There as part of me that wanted to focus on a specific event or race from Clark’s career, however, I have done that with other pieces like Sweikert’s First Words and thought I should challenge myself to paint a broader picture of Jim Clark’s life and career in a quick burst of words.

One of my most prized possessions is this 1:18 scale model of Clark's 1965 Indy 500 winning Lotus 38.

Jim Clark, though I never saw him race beyond some old film clips online or in documentaries, or read more than what’s been written in books I own and what I’ve found online, will always be my all time favorite. Why? I can never really pinpoint it.

Any way, without further ado, I present to you “Clark.”


Clark was

Born in Kilmany, Fife, Scotland.

A sheep farmer with a snow white smile.

World Champion twice over.

Victor at Indianapolis.

Some say,

the greatest of all time.

Even to this day.

A pure, natural, talent.

Clark was not capable

of saving the Lotus

once it lost control.

A broken suspension,

or maybe a punctured tire.

Driver became passenger.


Rain soaked trees awaiting impact.

Clark was not capable of making

a fool of himself on the track.

Calculated, quick, and cunning,

he could squeeze speed out of a machine

like no other.

Spa, Monza, Zandvoort among the rest,

he conquered them all.

So when Jim Clark was killed at the Hockenheimring in 1968,

it was of no fault of his own.

Clark was not capable of making such a mistake.

Follow the links below for Todd's other racing related poetry:

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