See you, Sir Jack

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Welcome - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@news.com.au

JACK Brab­ham is driv­ing in Bri­tain some­time in the 1960s, shar­ing a car with a bunch of fel­low racers, when he is stopped by a bobby for speed­ing.

“Who do you think you are, Stir­ling Moss?” asks the bobby. “No, I’m Jack Brab­ham. Stir­ling is in the back,” Brab­ham replies.

This story is the one that keeps com­ing back to me as the re­al­ity of Sir Jack’s death on Mon­day, aged 88, sinks in. It’s a funny story that sets him in a time and a place, and it is a story that re­flects his rise from a gritty dirt-track racer in western Syd­ney to a world cham­pion and the first man to be knighted for his mo­tor sport suc­cess.

Brab­ham was as tough as they come. He was also typ­i­cal of the post­war gen­er­a­tion in Aus­tralia who just got on with the job. Any­one who wanted to be a real suc­cess headed for Bri­tain, the “mother coun­try”.

Brab­ham won the world cham­pi­onship with the Cooper team in 1959 and 1960. It helped that he was leading a tran­si­tion to rear-en­gined rac­ing cars, a chal­lenge that al­lowed him to dip into an en­gi­neer­ing back­ground that in­cluded time as an air force me­chanic.

But he also had to push his car over the line to win the 1959 cham­pi­onship af­ter a me­chanic had failed to fill it up for the ti­tle de­cider at Se­bring in Florida.

Brab­ham’s am­bi­tion led him, with fel­low Syd­neysider Ron Tau­ranac, to set up his own team. All his cars had se­rial num­bers that started BT, for Brab­ham-Tau­ranac.

When he per­suaded Repco to fund an en­gine for the 1966 sea­son, he put the fi­nal piece in place for a world-beat­ing com­bi­na­tion that made him the first driver to win the F1 ti­tle in his own car. Kiwi Denny Hulme matched the feat the next year in a Repco-Brab­ham.

Brab­ham was a ti­tle con­tender un­til his fi­nal For­mula One sea­son in 1970 but his great­est achieve­ment was prob­a­bly com­plet­ing his ca­reer with­out a sin­gle in­jury — in an era when 30 fel­low driv­ers were killed.

Sir Jack was proud­est of his fam­ily’s achieve­ments, from sons Ge­off, Gary and David — who made it to F1 and also shares suc­cess at Le Mans with his old­est brother — to grand­sons Matthew and Sam, who are rac­ing and win­ning in the US and Bri­tain.

Vale Sir Jack Brab­ham.

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