A SCOTTISH farmer who was instrumental in launching the career of a young Borders farmer, Jim Clark, on a path which resulted in him being one of Britain's finest ever Grand Prix drivers, has been honoured.

Some would say that 62 years later, it is late acknowledgement for Ian Scott Watson (88), but the Jim Clark Memorial Award recognition from the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers comes on the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark's untimely death, in a race he shouldn't even have been in, at Hockenheim, in 1968. Fittingly, it was sponsored by Jaguar, which produced the D-Type in which he had much early success.

At a ceremony in Mar Hall, Erskine, recently, recalling Clark’s early exploits with that D-type, he was presented with the Association’s annual Jim Clark Memorial Award which acknowledges and rewards the outstanding contribution of Scots for services to motoring.

Mr Scott Watson was instrumental in propelling Jim Clark on his way to two world championships and a record series of Grand Prix victories.

It all started at Crimond, Aberdeenshire, on June 26, 1956, when, convinced of his friend’s talent, Mr Scott Watson first persuaded him to take part in a race run by the Aberdeen and District Motor Club. Their 250-mile drive from the Borders to a windswept disused airfield eight miles from Fraserburgh, took five hours – remember there was no Forth Bridge or motorways back then.

"Scott Watson thought the motor Clark was to drive, a DKW, was a likely winner in Scottish rallies against Renault 760s, Standard 10s, Morris Minors, and Austin A30s. The 'Sonderklasse' DKW, with a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine and front wheel drive was an eccentric choice for sprints, and gymkhanas," recalled legendary motoring writer, Eric Dymock, in his appreciation of Mr Scott Watson.

"He entered it in as a sports car and handicap saloon car races with Clark as 'reserve driver'. To his own surprise, Jim was 3s per lap quicker than the owner in practice. The organisers suspected Scott Watson of driving slowly to get a better handicap in the saloon race. He wasn’t!

"But the pair thought they were far enough from Jim's Borders' family – whom they knew would disapprove of Clark racing, as he had just taken on responsibilities on the family farm and they didn’t want him doing anything that would require time off!"

But Mr Scott Watson and Mr Dymock agreed – Jim Clark took a lot of motivating to take part, as he did not realise how good he was.

Mr Scott Watson then spent years providing him with expensive cars, including a Porsche and a Lotus Elite.

“I may not have been a judge of what was required to make a Grand Prix driver, but I could tell from the way Jimmy drove both on the road and on the track that he was exceptionally quick. On the road he was amazing, perfect to sit beside," said Mr Scott Watson.

"His driving was smooth and his anticipation marvellous. You could feel him ease off the throttle and then spot a car he had already seen approach on a distant side road. It was difficult to know why he did not feel confident about his own ability.

"On the face of it, he lacked confidence. Yet when he got on the track, it was totally forgotten. He gave it everything and drove superbly.”

Ian Scott Watson’s motives were altruistic. He loved motor racing and when Jim’s ability emerged, he took on the role of promoter, though he would never be his full time manager.

With the Border Reivers’ D-type Jaguar, his first race at Full Sutton earned a place in the record books as the first sports car driver to lap a British circuit at more than 100mph.

Sir Jackie Stewart described Jim Clark as: “… the best driver I ever raced with and against.” Three times Le Mans winner, Allan McNish, added: “A modern driver winning the British Grand Prix, racing in Formula 2, then at Indianapolis would be unthinkable.”

David Coulthard also weighed in: “Jim’s achievements and Jackie Stewart’s input were fundamental to me becoming a professional racing driver.” Fellow Scottish Grand Prix driver, Dario Franchitti, simply said: “He was my hero”.

* The four patrons of the Jim Clark Trust have all written forewords to a new edition of Eric Dymock’s 'Life of Jim Clark'. Updated and redesigned, it celebrates the life and achievements of Jim Clark (1936-1968) and a royalty on every copy goes to the Jim Clark Trust.