WHO Sir Jack Brabham, three-time F1 World Champion
WHERE Australia, UK, and all around the globe…
WHEN April 2, 1926 - May 19, 2014
aniel Ricciardo’s first Formula 1 victory
at the Canadian Grand Prix was a welcome
and poignant pick-me-up for Australian
motorsport fans, coming just weeks after
the death of Sir Jack Brabham, one of the
most significant figures in racing history.
Being an ace racecar driver was not the
only bullet in Brabham’s gun; almost unique
among his F1 colleagues, he had a strong
understanding of engineering, having been
a mechanic in the Royal Australian Air Force.
On top of that was a “get it done” mentality.
After moving to the UK in 1955, he used
all three of those qualities and hooked up
with the works Cooper team. In ’ 58, he
campaigned the marque’s radical rear-engined cars in both F2 and F1 and scored
several top 10 finishes. When John Cooper
acquired 2.5-liter Climax engines for ’ 59,
two wins and three other podium finishes
were enough to earn Brabham the World
Championship. He doubled up in ’ 60 after
a dominant five-in-a-row win sequence.
Cooper, having started the rear-engined
trend, was left behind by the switch to
1.5-liter engines in 1961, and Brabham
suffered a poor year in terms of F1 results.
However, he and Ron Tauranac had started
Jack Brabham leads
Hulme, Clark and Hill
at Zandvoort in ’ 66,
on his way to one of
four wins and the
Formula 1 World
year. It’s the first and
only time the feat has
been achieved by a
driver racing a car
bearing his own name.
Jack was 33 by the time he scored his first F1
win at Monaco in ’ 59 (ABOVE), yet squeezed in
12 more seasons and three World Championships.
In 1961, Brabham and Cooper reintroduced
rear engined cars to Indy, starting 13th,
finishing ninth and sparking a revolution.
Motor Racing Developments, a company
which began building Formula Juniors,
with a long-term plan for graduating to F1.
In ’ 62, Brabham campaigned his own
car in grand prix racing, the BT3. The
following year, he expanded his team to a
two-car operation and hired Dan Gurney.
Gurney’s 1964 victories in France and
Mexico provided the team’s breakthrough.
Two years later, Brabham was ready for F1’s
new 3-liter regs like no one else. Using an
Oldsmobile-based Repco engine, Jack took
a dominant third World Championship, the
only driver to earn the ultimate accolade
in a car bearing his name. Teammate
Denny Hulme earned the team’s second
title the following year before departing.
Brabham retired from driving in 1970
(still a race winner at the age of 44) and
sold his company to Tauranac, who himself
eventually sold to Bernie Ecclestone.
Gurney, who, like Bruce McLaren, was
inspired to go the driver/engineer/owner
route, recalled his friend Brabham as “a
fierce competitor, an outstanding engineer,
a tiger of a driver, an excellent politician
and a hands-on creator and visionary.”
We can only echo that. L A T