Monday, May 19, 2014

Vale - Sir Jack Brabham, A Great Australian

Sad to report the death today of Sir Jack Brabham, aged 88. The only Formula One driver to win the world championship in his own car!
Jack started his career as a mechanic for the Royal Australian Air Force and got his start in racing driving speedcars on quarter-mile dirt circuits. He was notoriously competitive, and ruthless in pursuit of the chequered flag.
He went to England in the 1950s, got into Formula One, winning in Cooper-Climax mid-engined cars, before going on to design his own Brabham race cars with fellow Aussie Ron Tauranac.
Unfortunately, despite the world championship, and being knighted by the Queen, it took a long time for Australians to publicly recognise him for his great achievements in motor sport. However, he dies, recognised as a great Australian, who was gracious, and loyal to his friends.
I first met Jack in the year he won his world championship in a Brabham car, interviewing him at the inaugural meeting at the Surfers Paradise International Raceway.
Jack and I in 1966 discussing the Brabham-Honda F2 cars
Thirty-two years later, I was asked to reprise the interview, which was published in the Honda Company magazine at Honda's celebration of 50 years in motor sport.

Interviewing Jack about the Brabham-Honda victories, Sydney 1998

The last time we met, for lunch, on March 20 he was in good form, talking about his grandson Matthew's progress in Indy Lights.
Grahame Ward, Sir Jack and Yours Truly on March 20 (Photo: Max Stahl)

Although deaf as a post for many years, and in later years enduring dialysis three times a week he was always happy and friendly with me and I both loved and respected him for his achievements. As Stirling Moss said: "He was a racer!"
Lunch, November 2012, arranged by Jack's good friend Grahame Ward, with myself, Matthew and Sir Jack, discussing Matt's upcoming year in Indy Lights in the USA. Photo: Max Stahl

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