Remembering Sir Jack Brabham



We lost one of the true greats of motorsport this week with Sir Jack Brabham passing away at 88.  It speaks volumes to his contribution to the sport that we all love that he was knighted and that he will be given a state funeral.

His legacy speaks volumes when upon his passing, he was the top trending topic on Twitter, he made national and international news. I won’t go into the details of his career.  There are others that will and have done that with depth, more knowledge than I will be able to.  If you do wish to review career, his Wikipedia page is a great place to start.

Sir Jack created a legacy.  Racing when ideas mattered, when innovation meant huge changes on a tiny budget, when you didn’t have massive engineering or corporate structures to help you out.  It was hard work, determination, bravery and importantly acumen that got you to the top.  Sir Jack had that in spades.  Never one to grab the headlines, he got on with the racing – building his career and his company.

During his career he brought the rear-engined car to the Indy 500, he became the first to win a F1 Championship in his own car, he became the first Australian to win in F1, he win in sportscar for Matra, he raced until 2004 in some sort of car, though when he retired from top line racing, his wife Margaret did state her relief – almost a given as he drove during a dangerous time for motorsport.

It is one of those funny things, to people of my generation, we knew the Brabham team as a hapless and fading team, destined to splutter to a halt in 1992.  Given my passion for motorsport and given I am Australian, I soon found out about Sir Jack and the history of his team – realising that he a legend, that no one has been able to do what he did.  He soon became somewhat of a hero of mine, wanting to find out more and more about him.  I had the good fortune to to meet him 2009 when he did the recreation of his 1959 F1 Championship when he waved the flag for his grandson, Sam who pushed one of his cars across the line – the way he did to come fourth at Sebring and win his first title.  That was an incredible moment for me to witness that and I was emotional behind the camera.

I have had the good fortune to interview his sons, David, Geoff and Gary – three men with their own motorsport stories, greats in their own right. Like their father, they raced, they lived, they kept the legacy, never bringing the family name into disrepute.  Now a new generation will do the same.  It is extremely gratifying to see the name continue in motorsport and to have it in the hands of young men that will honour a man as great as Sir Jack.

Sir Jack competed in 128 F1 races, winning 14 of them, taking three Championships.  But he was so much more than his stats and he will be remembered as such.

In the end liver disease got him, but to be honest, it was being alive for 88 years.  It was 88 of the greatest years, of the most valuable years that we will see in our sport.  We knew this day would come but somehow none of us wanted to admit it would.  Like the Champions before him, he will be missed.

By Sam Tickell,  May 2014

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