Friday, August 18, 2023

1963 – Clark Drives Lotus-Ford to Victory in ‘200’

Jim Clark (pole) and Dan Gurney lead the field to green in the Tony Bettenhausen 200 at the Milwaukee Mile. Clark would go on to record the victory in dominating fashion.

Milwaukee, Wis. (August 18, 1963) – The auto racing evolution that fired its opening shot in the Indianapolis 500 took its first victory at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Jimmy Clark of Duns, Scotland, the current leader in the world road racing standings, established a list of records in driving one of the low-slung, rear-engine Lotus-Fords to a convincing triumph in the national championship 200-mile race. Dan Gurney of Costa Mesa, Calif., Clark’s teammate, finished third.

Clark lapped every car in the field except for A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex. When it was over, Foyt, the leader in the United States Auto Club point standings, said,” I tried everything I could think of to catch up.”

A record crowd of 35,096 paid a record purse of $44,225 to watch Clark start from the pole position and stay in front the entire way to take the checkered flag. He established a record average speed of 104.48 miles per hour on the one-mile paved track and set a new qualifying mark of 109.307 miles per hour. Clark’s share of the purse came to $12,413.

The engine in Clark’s car was the same in which he finished second at Indianapolis, where Gurney was seventh.

Former Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward, who finished fourth in Sunday’s race, said, “You wait and see. Drivers will be running right past those new Offenhausers to jump in some old thing with an engine in the rear.”

Clark and Gurney ran first and second in the race, until Foyt finally squeezed past Gurney after 80 miles. Ward carried on a long-race duel with Gurney for third but could never get by him.

Parnelli Jones, who beat Clark at Indianapolis battled car trouble from the start and dropped out after 43 miles when his brakes failed. He had won late model stock car races on the same track only a week ago Sunday and Thursday.

Results –

1. Jim Clark, Duns, Scotland
2. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
3. Dan Gurney, Costa Mesa, Calif.
4. Rodger Ward, Speedway, Ind.
5. Chuck Hulse, Downey, Calif.
6. Roger McCluskey, Tucson, Ariz.
7. Johnny Rutherford, Fort worth, Tex.
8. Jim Hurtubise, North Tonawanda, N.Y.
9. Bobby Grim, Indianapolis, Ind.
10.Don Branson, Champaign, Ill.

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