The Brabham name has been synonymous in world-class motorsport for over 60 years.
A triple Formula 1 World Drivers’ (1959, 1960 and 1966) and double Constructors’ Champion (1966 and 1967), Sir Jack Brabham is one of the most accomplished drivers and team owners in the history of the sport. The first driver to be knighted for services to motorsport, ‘Black Jack’ rose from racing midgets on dirt ovals in Australia to dominate global motorsport.
His first two titles in the Cooper Climax marked the end for front-engined Formula 1 cars. The third made him the only driver in history to win a World Championship in a car bearing his own name and make, the Brabham BT19.
It was also in a Cooper that Sir Jack shook the establishment at Indianapolis as the first driver to race a modern mid-engined car at the 500, his eventual ninth place triggering the rear-engine revolution at Indy.
Acclaimed as a brilliant engineer, technological innovations brought about by the Brabham team helped to shape the sport today. Through his partnership with Ron Tauranac, over 700 Brabham racecars were built from the team’s British Surrey base, the result of which included not only the 1966 and 1967 Constructors’ titles but also multiple Formula 2 crowns.
Although Jack scored his final F1 win in the South African Grand Prix in 1970, the Brabham racing legacy has continued with Jack’s sons achieving their own global success.
Sir Jack Brabham son followed him into the sport with great success, Geoff and David making their greatest mark in sportcars and both winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race.
Geoff won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1993 and a staggering four IMSA GTP Championship titles. Double American Le Mans Series Champion and 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours winner, David still competes at the highest echelons of sportscar racing in a career spanning over 30 years.
With grandsons Matthew and Sam now carving their own notable racing careers, the dynasty continues with a third generation of Brabhams. Matthew, son of Geoff, has an ever expanding CV which includes USF2000 and Pro Mazda championship crowns, Indy Lights race victory on route to his Indy 500 debut, twice Stadium Super Trucks series runner-up and 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour GT4 class spoils. Despite a later start to his career, David’s son Sam has already underlined his potential with multiple British Formula Ford race wins and podium finishes, as he continues to pursue sportscar competition opportunities.
Brabham also established the precedent for Formula One drivers to become pilots of their own planes. Though such transport at the time was exotic, Brabham’s tastes remained simple. Distrustful of foreign fare, he flew his own steaks to the races. His passengers over the years included a succession of his Brabham team mates – Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt, Jacky Ickx – all of whom benefited from his tutelage and made their mark in Formula One racing.
Jack Brabham, whose final victory came in the 1970 South African Grand Prix when he was 44, chose that season to retire as a driver. The Brabham team was sold to Bernie Ecclestone and Jack returned home to Australia, where he busied himself running a farm, a car dealership and an aviation company, and helped his sons with their racing careers. His contribution to British motorsport was officially recognised in 1985 and he became Sir Jack Brabham. He passed away peacefully at his home in May 2014, aged 88.