Jack Brabham, AO and OBE, born 2 April 1926 has died 19 May 2014.
Jack was instrumental in working with industry in particular Repco who took over maintaining the Coventry Climax race engines of the first Brabham Formula One (F1) cars built by Jack and fellow Australian Ron Tauranac. Jack was the F1 Champion in 1959, 1960 and again in 1966 with the Repco Brabham V8.
Jack founded the Brabham racing team, where he first built frames and used existing engines like the Coventy Climax engine and later produced his own race engine in partnership with Repco thus became a F1 race car constructor in his own right. At times practically most of the F1 and Tasman racing grids were made up of Brabhams with one or two Ferrari or Lotus cars. He ‘Jack’ must have realised that now every one was driving his cars it was proving difficult to repeat his 1959 and 1960 F1 Championship wins. Below is Jack’s portrait reproduced on the cover of Modern Motor to celebrate his second F1 Championship win, surrounded with a set of Coventry Climax pistons and con rods that were reportedly used by Brabham in his championship winning car in 1960. Jack also traveled extensively and came back to Australia from his base in the UK to compete in the Tasman series of races in the 1960’s were record crowds came to see him and other great racing car drivers of the time. He also made appearances as a driver in the Bathurst 1000 races, and at one point Holden named a Torana after him called the ‘Brabham Torana’.
Jack’s portrait hangs proudly in the Eric Rainsford Library of The Sporting Car Club of South Australia (SCCSA). The library has one of the largest collection of motorsport and motoring information in the southern hemisphere. The Adelaide connection to Brabham, has been detailed in the SCCSA March 1999 Wheelspun article ‘SA firm part in Brabham success’ and reproduced in the March 2002 SCCSA Wheespin which referenced and reprinted an earlier article by Peter Oliver in SA Motorsport, November, 1968-25. Where Peter mentions “Kevin Drage in Adelaide was at the time working for Clisby Industries”, [which was run by Harold Clisby a very innovative and talented engineer]. “Kevin then became instrumental in the manufacture of the Clisby V6 ” [Australian made] 4 O.H.C 1.5L engine, which was intended to be a Formula 1 racing motor”, [this engine was on display at the 2014 Adelaide Motorsport Festival, see the second photo]. Peter mentions, “Repco after inspecting Kevin’s work, awarded Clisby Industries in 1966 the job of producing [casting in aluminum] the first Repco Brabham V8 heads”. A close up for these heads can be seen in the film Volume Three of Golden Age of Motor Sport. So if it was not for Clisby Industries the otherwise “1966 The Fantastic Year” for Brabham where Jack won his third F1 Championship, may not have happened as there would have been “a delay of about 12 months if the work was sent to England.” The Brabham Team campaigned two Repco Brabham V8 cars in 1966 and 1967 with Denny Hulme driving the second car. Denny was the 1967 F1 Champion, thus helping to win the F1 Constructors Championship in 1966 and 1967 for the Brabham Team.
Our condolences to the Brabham family in the passing of Sir Jack Brabham.