AUSTRALIA’S greatest grand prix driver and one of Australia’s most revered sportsmen, Sir Jack Brabham has passed aged 88 at his home on the Gold Coast.
Funnily enough, Jack Brabham did not set out to become a racing driver – it just happened.
He spent two years in the air force as a flight mechanic during WWII where he learnt plenty about engines.
After the war ended in 1945, Sir Jack and a mate, who would be the driver, built a speedway car together.
But following a few crashes his mate had no choice but to give it away at the order of his wife.
So Jack was left with the car and decided to have a crack at driving.
Brabham famously went on to win the F1 world championship in 1959, 1960 and 1966 during an era that was notorious for being the most dangerous in history. ‘Black Jack’ very nearly lost that first championship when he ran out of fuel at Sebring and was forced to push the car over the line for the last 45 metres.
Brabham again dominated in 1960 but when the rules changed to 1500cc engines, he was without the power he wanted and Ferrari had become the team to beat.
The most thrilling win in 1960 was the French GP at Reims when he downed the Ferrari team and everybody said he couldn’t beat them because it was a fast circuit.
The French GP was celebrated vigorously by the drivers and Brabham’s efforts that weekend in 1960 brought with it enough bubbly to throw a party for a small village.
Part of the prize in 1960 was 100 bottles of champagne for the fastest driver in practice and then the second day they had another 100 bottles providing the time was better than the first day, and he won that. Then winning the race as well which was another 100 bottles so he had 300 bottles of champagne.
In 1961 he brought Ron Tauranac over to England and they decided to build their own cars under Motor Racing Developments.
MRD really got going in 1962 and they built their first F1 Brabham car.
It was the beginnings of Brabham’s greatest achievements and in 1966, he managed to win the world title in a car designed by himself using a Repco engine built in Australia.Brabham not only survived one of the most dangerous periods in motor racing history, but he added a rich lustre to its history, providing inspiration for many generations of racers in the process.His last award of distinction came in 2012 when he was named Australia’s National Living Treasure.
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