- February 13, 1948
- August 06, 2002
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Jim Crawford (1948-2002) was a racing driver from Scotland who was active for more than twenty years in different single-seater and sports car racing competitions.
He recorded two starts with Team Lotus in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1975. He was a champion two times in national competitions, winning the British Formula Atlantic Championship in 1974 and British Formula One Championship in 1982.
Crawford ended a career in the US, racing in the Indy Car World Series and recording nine starts at Indianapolis 500, where his best result was the sixth place in 1988.
Formula Atlantic champion early in a career
Born in February 1948 in Dunfermline, James Alan Crawford started his career in rallying, driving a Mini in some local events. He then raced in the Formula Ford and stepped into the Formula Atlantic in 1973.
His first great success came in 1974 when he was a champion in the Southern Organs British Formula Atlantic Championship and a runner-up in the John Player British Formula Atlantic Series, losing a title to New Zealander John Nicholson. In both competitions, Crawford was driving a March 73B for Steve Choularton's SDC Racing team.
Crawford crashed Lotus F1 car in the first drive
In 1975, Crawford stayed with SDC Racing and switched to Chevron B29 in the Formula Atlantic and Formula 2 races. Then, he was spotted by Colin Chapman who invited him to be a test driver for Team Lotus and then to race in Formula One.
Crawford made a debut in a Lotus 72E-Cosworth in the 27th Daily Express International Trophy in April, the non-championship race at Silverstone. He didn't start the race because of an accident during practice.
Two Formula 1 World Championship starts with Team Lotus
Despite his unsuccessful debut, Crawford had a new opportunity two months later, in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Driving the #6 Lotus 72E, he was the 25th qualifier and had another accident in the race, retiring after 28 laps.
Crawford's second start in the F1 World Championship followed in September in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He completed 46 laps in the #6 Lotus 72F, six less than race winner Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari), finishing in 13th place.
British Formula Atlantic vice-champion in 1979
In 1976, Crawford made a debut in the Shellsport International Series, the British championship driven under Formula Libre rules that later was converted into the British Formula 1. He was driving two different Chevron cars in three races, scoring some points to finish 24th in the final standings. In the same year, he also made few starts in the Formula Atlantic in the US.
In 1977 and 1978, Crawford raced mostly in Formula 3 and then returned to British Formula Atlantic in 1979, scoring five wins in a Chevron B45 to finish as a vice-champion. He was defeated by Ray Mallock.
British Formula 1 champion in 1982
In 1980, Crawford spent a season in the Aurora AFX F1 Championship, driving the #77 Chevron B45-Ford for Plygrange Racing. He was a race winner once, at Oulton Park, to finish fourth in the championship. In 1981, Crawford stayed with Plygrange Racing to drive a Toleman TG280-Hart in the European Formula 2 Championship. Without wins or podiums, he finished 16th in the points.
In 1982, Crawford joined Team Ensign in the British Formula 1 Championship. Aurora withdrew as the main sponsor and the championship was shortened to just five rounds. Crawford was driving the #3 Ensign N180B-Cosworth in four races, winning three times and taking the championship title.
Runner-up twice in the Can-Am Series
In 1982, Crawford participated in Silverstone's round of the World Sportscar Championship, driving a Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo for Vesuvio Racing to the tenth place. Then, in September 1982, he started his North American career with Anco Racing in the Can-Am Series. Driving an Ensign N180B-Cosworth in four races, he scored two podiums.
In 1983, Crawford spent full season in the Can-Am Series with Fernley Racing, scoring two wins in the #7 Ensign N180B and finishing second in the final standings, just three points behind Jacques Villeneuve Sr. Next year, Crawford scored three Can-Am victories in a March 847-Chevrolet of RK Racing, finishing again second in the points. This time, the champion was the Irishman Michael Roe.
Indy Car Series debut in 1984, first starts at Indy 500 in 1985
In 1984, Jim Crawford made his debut in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series. He scored great result in the season-opening race at Long Beach, finishing fourth in the #78 Theodore T83-Cosworth of Ed Wachs Motorsport. In May, he failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in the same car. In the third race, at Meadowlands, he was 21st. Later in the season, he made one more start with H&R Racing's March-Cosworth at Laguna Seca.
In 1985, Crawford started a season with another fourth-place finish at Long Beach, driving the #34 Lola T900-Cosworth for Wysard Racing. Then, in May, he manages to qualify for Indianapolis 500. In the race, he completed 142 laps and was classified 16th.
That season, Crawford recorded two more starts with Wysard Racing, one starts with Canadian Tire Racing and two starts with Pace Racing. Collecting 16 points from seven races, he finished the season 20th in the final classification.
A season with March in the IMSA GTP Championship
The season 1985 was the last for Crawford in the Indy Car World Series, later he competed at Indianapolis 500 only. In 1986, he focused on IMSA GTP Championship with Conte Racing, driving a #46 March 85G-Buick. His co-driver was Whitney Ganz. Their best result was the third place at Watkins Glen 500 Miles. That year, Crawford also represented March Engineering at Indianapolis 500, where he retired after 70 laps.
In 1987, he made just two starts with Conte Racing in the IMSA GTP Championship and raced with Patrick Racing's March 86C-Buick at Indianapolis 500 but failed to qualify for the race, crashing a car during practice.
Sixth place at 1988 Indianapolis 500
Crawford sustained serious leg injuries in the 1987 Indy 500 crash but recovered sufficiently to return next year to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It turned to be his most successful visit to Indianapolis.
At the wheel of King Racing's #15 Lola-Buick, he sensationally led for eight laps during the race. He was in the second place when, on lap 194, he had to change a flat tire. His crew had some difficulties and he lost a lot of time, dropping to the sixth place at the finish.
A regular competitor at Indianapolis 500 since 1995
After making an impression at 1988 Indy 500, Jim Crawford rejoined King Racing four more times at Indianapolis, in 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993. He retired three times and finally reached the finish line in 1993, being classified 24th.
In 1990, Crawford was driving a Lola-Buick for Team Menard, finishing 15th at Indianapolis 500 but also racing in the season-opening race at Phoenix, where he was 19th.
Crawford's last two attempts at Indianapolis 500 were in 1994 and 1995, both resulting with DNQs. In 1994, he was driving for Riley &Scott and, in 1995, he joined Hemelgarn Racing.