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02 April - Sir Jack Brabham, Aust 1st World Champion driver

Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:55 pm
by Max ADU
** see video at the bottom

Australian Birthday Today, Sir John Arthur "Jack" Brabham, AO, OBE, born 2 April 1926, Hurstville, New South Wales, is an Australian former racing driver who was Formula One champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966. He was a founder of the Brabham racing team and race car constructor that bore his name.

At the age of 12, he learned to drive the family car and the trucks of his father's grocery business. Brabham attended technical college, preferring basic metalwork, carpentry and technical drawing.

At the age of 15 he left school to work, combining a job at a local garage with an evening course in mechanical engineering. Brabham soon branched out into his own business selling motorbikes, which he bought and repaired for sale, using his parents' back veranda as his workshop.

19 May 1944 Brabham enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Although keen on becoming a pilot, there was already a surplus of trained aircrew and the Air Force instead put his mechanical skills to use as a flight mechanic, of which there was a wartime shortage.

On his 20th birthday, 2 April 1946, Brabham was discharged from the RAAF. He then started a small service, repair and machining business in a workshop built by his uncle on a plot of land behind his grandfather's house.

Brabham masters the dirt

Brabham started racing after an American friend, Johnny Schonberg, persuaded him to watch a midget car race. Midget racing was a category for small open-wheel cars racing on dirt ovals.

It was popular in Australia, attracting crowds of up to 40,000. Brabham records that he was not taken with the idea of driving, being convinced that the drivers "were all lunatics" but he agreed to build a car with Schonberg.

Brabham won the 1948 Australian Speedway Championship, the 1949 Australian and South Australian Speedcar championships, and the 1950–1951 Australian championship with the car.

The chase for the World Championship

Brabham based himself in the UK, where he bought another 2 litre Cooper to race in national events. His crowd-pleasing driving style initially betrayed his dirt track origins: as he put it, he took corners "by using full [steering] lock and lots of throttle" with little success.

Brabham then shipped the Bobtail back to Australia, where he used it to win the 1955 Australian Grand Prix.

Dramas in winning "The World Championship"

In 1959, Cooper obtained 2.5-litre engines for the first time and Brabham put the extra power to good use by winning his first world championship race at the season-opening Monaco Grand Prix and British Grand Prix

At the Portuguese Grand Prix at Monsanto Park, Brabham was chasing race leader Sterling Moss when a backmarker moved over on him and launched the Cooper into the air. The airborne car hit a telegraph pole, throwing Brabham onto the track, where he narrowly avoided being hit by one of his teammates but escaped with no serious injury.

Brabham, Moss and Ferrari's Tony Brooks were all capable of winning the championship at the final event of the season, the United States Grand Prix at Sebring. Brabham was among those up until 1 am the morning before the race working on the Cooper team cars.

The next day, after pacing himself behind Moss, who soon retired with a broken gearbox, he led almost to the end of the race before running out of fuel on the last lap. He again pushed the car to the finish line to place fourth.Brabham won his first world championship with a margin of four points.

Brabham won 3 Formula One World Drivers' Championships - 1959, 1960, 1966

Life after racing
After retirement, Brabham and his family moved to a farm between Sydney and Melbourne. Brabham says that he "never really wanted" the move, but his wife hoped their sons could grow up away from motor sport

Brabham and Betty divorced in 1994 after 43 years. Brabham married his second wife, Margaret in 1995 and they live on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Honours and awards
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE; 1966)
  • Australian of the Year (1966)
  • Knight Bachelor (1978)
  • Australian Sports Medal (2000)
  • Centenary Medal (2001)
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (AO; 2008)
  • Named a National Living Treasure (2012)

Watch on

Re: 02 April - Sir Jack Brabham, Aust 1st World Champion dri

Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:41 pm
by Max ADU