The loss of a legend in the motor racing world, Sir Jack Brabham passes away at 88 years of age.
He was not only a household name, but also a motor racing legend. An inspiration to many, and made Australia overly proud. His records will never be broken, and he will never be forgotten. Sir Jack Brabham, a legend in his time and a motorsport icon forever.
Brabham began his career in a different place to other racing car drivers, running a small engineering workshop and was a Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic, before he started racing midget cars back in 1948.
The Australian’s natural knack for driving and strong success in midget racing events in Australia and New Zealnd pushed for Brabham to make the move to Europe to race with a team led by John Cooper, while he also engineering his own car in 1955.
Brabham formed a great friendship with Cooper, and was eventually given the keys to his transporter to take the cars to the events. Brabham made his Grand Prix debut in sports cars at the 1955 British Grand Prix, but later retired from the race due to a broken clutch.
Brabham later in the year ran a non-championship event for the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Australia, before selling his car to make a permanent move to England with his family.
The Australian then pointed his racing campaign towards Formula 2 in 1956, becoming the champion just two years later in 1958.
Sir Jack Brabham was unique, as no other driver worked on the mechanical side of their own racecar, and he also contributed to the design of the car that Cooper introduced into the world of Formula 1 in 1959.
Brabham went on to win his first world championship in 1959 with Cooper, going into the final round of the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship, the Australian was among two other drivers that could take out the championship – Ferrari’s Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss. Brabham was awake until 1am working on the car with the team, and they went on to win the final round of the championship in Sebring, US.
Despite winning his first world championship, he strived for more and believed he could achieve higher, winning his second Formula 1 Driver’s World Championship in 1960.
In 1962, Sir Jack Brabham left Cooper to race for his own team. He also asked his friend from Australia Rob Tauranac to come to the UK and build a Formula 1 car, producing the first of the Brabham cars – the Brabham BT-3.
Despite not winning a single Grand Prix in ’62, in which some teams felt was because Brabham was reluctant to spend money – he continued on with the team.
In 1965, Sir Jack Brabham stepped aside to manage his team and Dan Guerney took the lead driver role, winning the Brabham team their first Formula 1 World Championship. Towards the end of the season, Guerney announced his intentions to leave the team, with Sir Jack pushing on with his dream.
In 1966, a new 3-litre engine formula was introduced into Formula 1, with all engines having to be 12-cylinders and were difficult to develop because of the weight and unreliability. Sir Jack Brabham took on a different approach, and convinced an Australian Engineering Company called Repco to develop an engine for him.
The Repco-Brabham BT19 chassis went on to win the 1966 Formula 1 World Championship, with Brabham being the first – and only – man to win a Drivers’ and Constructors’ World title in a car that carried his own name.
Brabham won his last Grand Prix in Africa during 1970, retiring at 44 years of age.
The three-time world champion then made the move back to Australia, to raise his three sons Geoff, Gary and David on a farm for a life away from motorsport. Of course, this didn’t happen, with all three of his sons making a career out of motorsport.
In 1979, the Australian driver became the first person in motor racing history to be knighted by the Queen, being knighted for his services in motorsport.
Sir Jack Brabham has influenced the way we all look at motorsport, and the world of Formula 1 today would not be the same without Sir Jack Brabham’s determination and will to become one of the best.
The saddening news of Sir Jack’s passing has impacted the motor racing world, with tributes flowing from all over the world.
The Queensland Government will be holding a state funeral for Sir Jack, with the ceremony confirmed for June 11, 1:30pm at the Southport Church of Christ on the Gold Coast.
Sir Jack Brabham will never be forgotten, and will always be remembered as one of the great legends in world motorsport. Rest In Peace, Sir Jack Brabham.
Written by Loren Hazelwood. @LorenHazelwood