The Brabham name is synonymous with Grand Prix motor racing and to this day, Sir Jack Brabham, the first driver in history to be knighted for his services to motorsport, remains one of racing’s most popular personalities.
The triple world champion is the only Formula One driver to have won a world title in a car of his own construction – the BT19 – which he drove to victory in 1966. The following year the Brabham team won its second successive world championship when New Zealander Denny Hulme drove the BT20 to victory.
Brabham established himself in Australian oval racing before switching to road racing in the early 1950’s. His driving style matured dramatically at this time and, in 1955, he moved from Australia to Europe to drive for Charles and John Cooper. That partnership resulted in Brabham’s first two championship titles in 1959 and 1960. It was also in a Cooper that Sir Jack shook the establishment at Indianapolis, qualifying the first modern mid-engined car at the 500 and finishing ninth. What seemed an anomaly at the time would in fact lead to a revolution at the Brickyard and the demise of the classic Indy roadsters.
In 1962, Sir Jack teamed up with fellow Australian Ron Tauranac, now of Ralt Racing fame, to produce the first of the Brabham Marque, the Brabham BT-3. This particular car debuted in the ’62 German Grand Prix and became the first of many successful Brabham cars that have run in Formula One up until the last few years. Sir Jack also introduced Honda to four-wheeled motor sport, their engines powering the successful Brabham Formula Two chassis in 1966.
Sir Jack scored his final Grand Prix win in South Africa in 1970 before calling his gallant motor racing career to an end at 44 years of age. Sir Jack has never lost contact with the motor racing world and still competes in many different venues. His three sons Geoff, Gary and David have all proven themselves in their own professional racing careers.
An excellent and in depth article about Jack Brabham titled; ” Jack of all trades and master of most” by James Heine can be viewed here.