Monday, January 7, 2013

Matthew's the Man!

Is there no limit to the talent streaming through the Brabham family? Recently, I had lunch with Matthew Brabham, son of Geoff and grandson of the great Sir Jack Brabham. This wasn’t any old lunch meeting, our group was recognizing Matthew for an outstanding racing season in 2012, in which he performed very well in the UK in Formula Renault, but the icing on the cake was winning the U.S. Formula 2000 championship.

Matthew finished 8th in the final race, to clinch the title, and as the 'Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda'  is part of the ladder system leading to Indycars, he won USD$375,000 towards his 2013 season.

Only 18 years of age, but displaying maturity beyond his years, Matthew was delightful to talk to. He’s level-headed, a no BS sort of guy and appears to possess the trademark Brabham determination.

He was sitting alongside his famous grandfather at lunch, and whilst talking with Jack I could tell that he’s immensely proud of Matthew’s results.

“He’s a good kid, with a ton of talent, but a great personality.” said Jack.

Grandad is right. Matthew is straight-up, and whilst he does nothing to ignore his family lineage, he certainly doesn’t appear to trade on it in the hotly-competitive racing world in which he operates. He’s enormously pragmatic about his potential, his talent and his future.

Matthew said: “I don’t have any fancy ideas about being at the front of the pack, because I’m from the Brabham family. You only get to the front if you’re good enough, and determined enough.” I can see from this brief meeting, he’s all of that and more.

Expect to see this bright, young Brabham on the top step on more and more podiums in the immediate future.

Surfers Paradise 1966

It was good to catch up with Jack, whom I first met in 1966 at the very first race meeting held at Keith William’s Surfers Paradise racetrack.

He was friendly, and open and our interview was not just a thrill, but a pleasure. After we finished, one of his mates from Repco said: "The reason he opened up, was because he recognized you knew your stuff." Nothing's changed with Jack.

Although today his hearing problems make lengthy conversation difficult, I’ve learned over the years that concise, intelligent questions always get a straight answer.

I’m amazed at how well he looks, given that he’s on dialysis three days week, but I’m so proud to be able to say we’re friends. We reminisced about a meeting we had in Sydney in  1997 when the editor of the Honda Australia Owners’ magazine commissioned me to write the story of Brabham’s tilt at Formula Two in 1967.

Sydney 1997 - photo courtesy of Lady Margaret Brabham

I have to thank my good friend, Grahame Ward, for inviting me along to the lunch to meet Jack and Matthew. And, I’d also like to thank my old mate Max Stahl for taking the memorable photos of me with the two Brabhams. Thanks guys.

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