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Roger Albert Clark - rally driver

Updated on September 23, 2015
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Roger Clark

The name of Roger Clark will be familiar to all rally enthusiasts who know their motorsport history.

Roger was well-known in the 1960s and 70s and his career culminated in 1976 when he became the first Briton to win the World Rally Championship. Roger drove primarily for Ford Motor Company.

The classic version of the RAC Rally was renamed in his honor and is now known as the Roger Albert Clark Rally. It's convenient that his initials fitted perfectly :)

His successes were in Ford Escorts, which were seen as the dominant rally car of the day and saw a great deal of success with rallying legends such as Hannu Mikkola and Eric Jackson. Eric Jackson is my dad and I think I first met Roger in the early 1970s. Roger was awarded the MBE for his services to the sport and to Britain.

Roger died in January 1998 but will be remembered as a rallying legend. His two sons, Oliver and Matthew are have also been motorsport competitors in rallying and help to keep their father's amazing legacy alive.


Three champions 1964

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From left to right: Roger Clark, Eric Jackson, Jim Clark. This photograph is from a motorsport publication from 1964 that I have in my possession.

These three men were all honoured by Ford Motor Company as they had won championships in Ford powered cars that year.

London to Sydney Marathon

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I particularly like this photograph as it shows rally drivers preparing for the London to Sydney Marathon.

The British Army were entering a team and the Ford works rally team, including Roger Clark, Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers, prepared for the rally by using the army's training facilities which included a war games experience in the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

The image shows:

  • On the left holding a sandwich: My dad, Eric Jackson
  • Third from left holding a cigarette: Ken Chambers
  • Fourth from left holding a cup of tea: Roger Clark.

I've often wondered if the objects the three men are holding show their priorities in life!

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Roger Clark pictured on the left. this is from the same training session as the one shown in the image above.

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Team orders

There's always a huge amount of controversy in Formula One racing about team orders.

But team orders are nothing new.

In the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, on the final leg, Roger Clark damaged the cylinder head of his car. Team boss Henry Taylor decided to cannibalize the car of Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers (pictured on the right).

This was to no avail as Roger's car suffered a further mechanical breakdown shortly afterwards. You can read more about this in Eric Jackson's autobiography, Petrol in My Blood

Here's a quote from the book:

"So much for our plans. Our London to Sydney Marathon ended right there - just when we were about to start driving at ten tenths to go for the win. But nevertheless, a team is a team and in my experience it's the team manager who calls the shots."

Eric and Ken had deliberately saved their car for the last part of the rally which they expected to be a very rough stage - and so it proved to be. But they never had the opportunity to drive that stage due to the car being cannibalized.


No hard feelings

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Eric Jackson and Roger Clark in later years. This was at a Ford Motor Company event at Polar Motor Company in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

I have always thought that Roger looks like a ventriloquist with my dad as his dummy.

Photography

All images from the collection of Eric Jackson - and have been used with written permission - with the exception of the Ford Escort photograph at the top of this page which is supplied by Wikipedia Commons

© 2013 Jackie Jackson

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      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @teach: Lucky you! I grew up in a motorsports family in England so I've always been a huge fan too. Thanks for visiting!

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      teach 5 years ago

      What a great bit of history. Even though I grew up in the U.S. I've always been a huge fan of British Motorsports...and yes, I've got an MGA Twincam that I'll never part with!

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