Life in fast lane with Jim Clark

Ian Scott-Watson chats with Jackie Stewart during last years Jim Clark Weekend in Duns.
Ian Scott-Watson chats with Jackie Stewart during last years Jim Clark Weekend in Duns.

The man who launched world champion racing driver Jim Clark’s career tells his side of the story in his newly-published memoirs, titled Black Sheep in the Fast Lane.

“The book is based on my memoirs of life, not just about Jim and motor sport,” explained Ian Scott-Watston.

“It is a book of my personal reminiscences of the past 80-odd years of a life of motor sport, architectural design, sailing and enjoying life.

“As the person who launched Jim on his motor racing career, it does, inevitably, contain much about Jim as a friend and about the teams for which he drove, the Borders Reivers and Team Lotus, and about experiences of earlier motor sport from the time that our paths first crossed, with a few comments about today’s commercialised motor racing.

“Jim may have owed his introduction to motor racing to me, but I owe a lot to Jim, and the friendship we had, for a much better knowledge of the world at large, beyond the gates to the farm with its panoramic view of the Tweed Valley which still remains my home, where I can wind down and from which I can work. I have, therefore, been able to enjoy the best of both worlds.”

In his early motor-racing cays Ian was a member of the Ecurie Agricole racing team that fielded a variety of outdated cars and had a certain Jim Clark as a young member of its pit crew.

At the end of 1957 season at Charterhall, Ian persuaded Jim Clark to drive his DKW at the Borders Motor Racing Club trophy meeting, and after he won, Jim was asked to take up racing and Ian was asked to manage a revamped Border Reivers team.

Ian’s determination to nurture the natural talent he saw in Clark played a big part in him losing half of his farm, which pushed him towards setting up an architectural design practice.

He became an acclaimed architect, winning the Daily Telegraph Traditional Housing Design Award in 2009 for his design of a nine-bedroom Scots baronial Perthshire mansion house.

However, the circumstances in which Ian ceased being Clark’s manager are a sign of the times back in the early 1960s.

“I had a phone call from someone close to Jim, who suggested Jim did not really now need a manager and it was not a good idea that I went to all the meetings with him as people were beginning to talk.

“I was flabbergasted at the apparent implication that anyone could conceivably believe we were gay.

“Clearly, it would, in those much less tolerant days, have been damaging to Jim, but I cannot imagine anyone more heterosexual than Jim, with a different stunning bird in every port, nor anyone who knew him thinking so.”

Ian recalls attempts to develop a new race circuit in Scotland in the 1960s, and he was instrumental in negotiating with the Royal Highland Agricultural Society for a racing circuit to be built at its Ingliston grounds.

“Life has had its ups and downs, but I have always managed to bounce back again after the lows,”reflected Ian.

“I have lived a quietly comfortable life in the house I designed 54 years ago. What else does one really need?”

Black Sheep in the Fast Lane costs £9.95, plus £2.05 for postage and packing, and it can be ordered at www.
borderdesign.co.uk