On This Day: Formula One champion Jim Clark killed in car crash

Chris Parsons
British Pathé
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On This Day: Formula One champion Jim Clark killed in car crash

April 7 1968: Tragedy struck the racing world on this day 45 years ago when motor racing world champion Jim Clark was killed in a car crash.

Clark, 32, died in a Formula Two race at Hockenheim, Germany, after his Lotus-Cosworth left the track at 170mph, span through the air and collided with a tree.

The double Formula One champ suffered a fractured skull and broken neck, and was pronounced dead before he even reached hospital.

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Clark had previously been involved in several spectacular smashes in his 15-year racing career, but had always escaped serious harm.

Experts suggested the crash was caused a faulty steering mechanism or rear-axle suspension.

The 80,000 racing fans who had been watching the race were informed of the tragic crash over the loudspeaker. Stunned by the news, they spontaneously rose to their feet in a silent tribute.

A track marshal who was the only witness to the crash said: "I was horror-struck. Everything happened so fast. The car skidded off to the left and seemed to dive through the fence only 10 yards (9.14m) from me.

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"It went skidding and somersaulting across the grass and hit a tree with a tremendous thump.

"The car seemed to be in a thousand pieces."

After Clark's death, his motorsport colleagues paid tribute to the Formula One champion.

Jackie Stewart said: "Jimmy's death is probably the most tragic thing in my experience of motor-racing - probably in the history of motor-racing.

"Jimmy was not only a famous driver, he was an international personality, loved by all his fiercest rivals."

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