Part and parcel of Borders farming life, as a youngster, was to join the Ednam Young Farmers Club. Jim joined and quickly became well acquainted and good friends with Ian Scott-Watson who introduced him to motorsport. In 1953 Jim passed his driving test and was introduced by Scott-Watson to Berwick & District Motor Club. Although he did not yet know it, he was about to be steered towards his future career. Close to Edington Mains was Winfield Airfield, home to the first ever Scottish motor race meeting, where Jim had witnessed the Ecurie Ecosse team that famously won Le Mans in 1956 and 1957 testing their Jaguars. Another race track was created close by at the Charterhall Airfield in 1952 and hosted a who’s who of motor racing through to the 1960’s, including Moss, Hawthorn, Salvadori, Farina, Abecassis, Parnell, Stewart and of course Jim Clark…
Ian Scott-Watson is widely regarded as the person responsible for Jim’s early racing career, competing in saloon, sports cars and rallies. In contrast, his parents believed that motorsport was not the career path to take, as it was dangerous, expensive and considered frivolous, at the time, in comparison to farming.
This led Jim to drive in local rallies and other such small race events as a hobby to begin with, until Scott-Watson entered his DKW Sonderklasse at a Crimond race meeting on 16th June 1956. Although the DKW had only an 856cc engine and lacked power compared to its competitors and despite the fact that Jim came last, his times were impressive. So impressive, in fact, that Ian Scott-Watson was penalised for the handicap race later that day by the organisers due to Jim’s quick times. They believed the art of ‘sandbagging’ had been employed to improve Scott-Watson’s chances of victory!
16 months later, on 5th October 1957 at Charterhall, Berwickshire, Jim drove Ian Scott-Watson’s 1957 Porsche 1600 S. He competed in three races, finishing 3rd, 2nd and winning the final one – The BMRC Trophy. It was a great victory, showcasing his potential by beating local garage owner and Border Reivers founder Jock McBain who was far more experienced and had more power at his disposal.