F1 News, Views and Reviews

Jack Brabham

Sir John Arthur “Jack” Brabham was born in 1926 in Australia and won 3 world titles.

Jack was very much interested in cars and mechanics from a young age, and by the age of 12 had perfected the art of driving with his families car.  At 15 he was on an evening course in engineering and working in a local car garage.  He also worked on motorbikes at his parents house. In 1944 he joined the Australian Royal Air Force for the Second World War, and while inititally turned down as a pilot they were interested in his advanced mechanical skills. 

In Australia Brabham raced on hill climbs until the early 1950’s when he became interested in road racing.  He bought some Cooper Race Cars in 1953 and began road racing.  After competing in the 1955 New Zealand Grand Prix Brabham was convinced to do a race season in Europe.

He made his Grand Prix debut proper at the British Grand Prix of 1955, in a grossly underpowered Cooper.  In 1956 he bought a Maserati 250F from BRM but is was unsuccessful and he returned to racing in Formula Two on behalf of Cooper.

It would be 1959 before Brabham would win a World Championship.  He won the season opening Monaco GP, and with a win in Britain he held a 13 point lead.  Avoiding injury at a huge incident in Portugal helped him on the way to the title with the Coventry Climax car.  He famously pushed his car over the line at the final race to finish 4th.

In 1960 he helped develop the Cooper T53, and he won the Championship again.  In 1961, Brabham took the car to the Indianapolis 500 and the American’s mocked the “funny European Sportscar”.  He ran as high as 3rd place before finishing 9th and was convinced he could have won if the Dunlop tyres had been more hardwearing.

The shark-nose Ferrari’s dominated 1961 and Cooper was nowhere.  Brabham started his own team for 1962 and it took some years to become competitive.  But by 1965 the car was good, and in France Brabham took the first win of a driver in a car of his own construction.  He won the title again, and it would be his last fading away until retirement in 1970. 

He has since raced sportscars, sold his Brabham team to Bernie Ecclestone and also helped as an advisor to Simtek.


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