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7 April  
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1968: Jim Clark killed in car smash
Motor racing world champion Jim Clark has been killed in a car crash during a Formula Two race at Hockenheim.

Clark, 32, was at the wheel of his Lotus-Cosworth which left the track at 170mph (274km/h), somersaulted through the air and collided with a tree on a remote part of the German track.

The twice Formula One champion, who sustained a broken neck and a fractured skull, was dead before he reached hospital.

The cause of the accident is not yet known although experts have suggested it could have been a fault in the steering mechanism or rear-axle suspension.

Although it had been raining prior to the race, this is not thought to have caused Clark's car to skid.

The car seemed to be in a thousand pieces
Eye-witness
The 80,000 spectators, who were informed of the accident via loudspeaker some two hours later, were stunned by the news.

They spontaneously rose to their feet in silent tribute.

The only witness to the accident was a track marshal who 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.

"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."

'Hell of a gap'

The 32-year-old farmer from Scotland, who was not married, had been involved in several spectacular accidents during his 15-year career but had never suffered serious injury.

Tributes poured in from around the world as the news of Jim Clark's death was spread.

Fellow racing driver Graham Hill, who was in the same race, said Jim Clark's death "leaves a hell of a gap in the racing scene".

He added: "For me as well as for thousands of others, it means the loss of a friend."

Jackie Stewart, also a racing driver, 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."

Clark's body is due to be flown back to Scotland later today. His funeral is expected to take place Wednesday in Chirnside, near his home.

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Jim Clark
Jim Clark was regarded by many as one of the safest drivers in the sport


In Context
Jim Clark was one of more than 100 international racing drivers killed 'in action' between 1958 and 1968.

Clark, who is still considered by some as the most natural racing driver of all time, won the World Championship twice - first in 1963 and then in 1965.

He won 25 Grand Prix races and was the first Briton to win the gruelling Indianapolis race in America.

He was made an OBE for his services to motor racing in 1964.

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