He was so much more than just a ro­bust and enor­mously suc­cess­ful rac­ing driver with a quiet, mod­est and no-non­sense per­son­al­ity. A tal­ented and prac­ti­cal en­gi­neer, he was al­ways far more in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing the cars he drove than seek­ing the lime­light. He was also an as­tute busi­ness­man who, with his friend and fel­low Aus­tralian Ron Tau­ranac, founded and ran with great suc­cess the Brab­ham race car com­pany. He must have had mighty pow­er­ful genes, too, for all three of his sons, Ge­off, David and Gary, have had suc­cess­ful rac­ing ca­reers, with Ge­off and David both hav­ing won at Le Mans. And I’ll never for­get his glow of pride when they won the fa­bled Bathurst 1000 in 1997 for BMW. And now Jack’s grand­sons, Matthew and Sam, are both Bri­tish Rac­ing Driv­ers’ Club Ris­ing Stars.

So how did this un­known Aussie come to be such an icon, a three-time world cham­pion, as well as be­ing the only one to do so in a car bear­ing his name? An­swer: Dean De­la­m­ont, the then boss of the RAC, was enor­mously im­pressed by the quiet young Aus­tralian who had dom­i­nated both midget-car dirt-track rac­ing and

“There has never been any­one else like Jack. En­gi­neer. Driver. Team owner. Mul­ti­ple cham­pion. Founder of a rac­ing dy­nasty”

Tar­mac events Down Un­der, and per­suaded him that it was worth giv­ing Europe a go. Which Jack ad­ven­tur­ously did in 1955, at a time when Aus­tralia seemed far more re­mote from the rest of the world than it is now, ini­tially work­ing as a me­chanic at Cooper in Sur­biton in re­turn for be­ing al­lowed to build his own car there.

He grew to be part of the scenery, re­spected for his prac­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing and de­vel­op­ment skills and, be­fore long, also be­came the team’s top driver. The rest is his­tory. He won his first world cham­pi­onship in 1959 – the first for a mid-en­gined car – by push­ing his Cooper across the line at Se­bring when it ran out of petrol. But fol­low­ing his sec­ond ti­tle in 1960, the Cooper magic faded and busi­ness­man Jack re­solved to start his own pro­duc­tion race-car com­pany with Ron Tau­ranac. Brab­ham was now a constructor.

From 1966, F1 reg­u­la­tions re­quired a three­l­itre en­gine. Jack duly com­mis­sioned the Repco com­pany in his na­tive Aus­tralia to pro­duce a sim­ple and re­li­able V8, which not only pro­pelled him to his third ti­tle in ’66 (a glory year for Jack, who also won the Bri­tish F2 cham­pi­onship with no fewer than ten vic­to­ries in his Brab­hamHonda), but also made his team-mate, Denny Hulme, world cham­pion the fol­low­ing year.

Jack’s ca­reer spanned three decades, from 1955 to 1970 when he won his last GP in South Africa and nearly won in Monaco and Bri­tain, too. He raced against Fan­gio, ri­valling and beat­ing Stir­ling Moss, Jim Clark, Dan Gur­ney (who raced and won for Jack’s Brab­ham team for three years, of which he speaks with great pride and af­fec­tion), and the other greats of his time.

But that wasn’t all. Just as it was Jack and Cooper who changed F1 from front-en­gined cars to rear-en­gined ma­chines, so it was Jack and Cooper who first stag­gered the pow­er­ful Amer­i­can rac­ing world, with its an­ti­quated fron­tengined cars, by go­ing to In­di­anapo­lis in 1961 and run­ning third and fin­ish­ing ninth at the fa­bled Indy 500. To­gether they started an­other revo­lu­tion – and be­fore long, Amer­ica fol­lowed.

There has never been any­one else like Jack Brab­ham. En­gi­neer. Driver. Team owner. Mul­ti­ple cham­pion. Busi­ness­man and founder of a rac­ing dy­nasty. You made your mark, Jack. You’ll be re­mem­bered al­ways with enor­mous ad­mi­ra­tion and deep re­spect.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.