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Bobby Rahal at the wheel of his Ralt RT1 during the 1978 Long Beach Grand Prix Formula Atlantic support race. Photo: Bob Tronolone
Graham Hill, in the Ron Tauranac–designed Brabham BT36 Formula Two car, leads John Cannon’s March 712 around North Tower Corner during the 1971 Crystal Palace F2 International. Photo: Peter Collins

Right, let’s get the name figured out straight away: Ralt stands for Ronald Austin Lewis Tauranac. Who’s he?

Well, actually, he’s a them. Ronald is Ron Tauranac who was the designer of Brabham racing cars from 1961 until 1971 and Ralt cars from 1975 until 1992 and a Honda consultant. Austin Lewis is his younger brother, who was only involved during Ron’s formative years in racing.

The 1968 Brabham BT26 four-cam suffered from woeful reliabilty problems. Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham ponder yet another problem at Brands Hatch during the 1968 British Grand Prix meeting. Tauranac and Brabham worked well together, resulting in a long and successful record for Brabham as a manufacturer. Photo: Peter Collins

Ron Tauranac was born in England but his family moved later in the 1920s to Australia. After the war, Ron caught the motorsport bug and designed and built some single-seaters very much along the lines of the then-popular 500-cc formula machines being raced extensively in Europe and powered by motorcycle engines. In what turned out to be a typically thorough Tauranac fashion, he extensively researched the subject of racing car design first, so the little cars turned out to be much more than just backyard specials. During this time, he became involved with Jack Brabham, who came to England, joined the Cooper Car Company and became its foremost works driver leading to back-to-back World Championship F1 wins for the southwest London team in 1960 and 1961.

In the time leading up to this period, Brabham had become increasingly concerned about the direction Cooper was headed in terms of the design of its racing cars. More specifically, he was shrewd enough to see that without help they did not have much of a future and that, therefore, included him! Consequently, he had corresponded with Tauranac, on an as-and-when basis, on potential improvements to the cars and eventually he decided that the only sensible thing to do was strike out on his own. If he was going to do that he would need a partner who could design racing cars; Tauranac was summoned to England and Brabham even paid his air fare, a good indication of the esteem in which he was held, as Brabham was well known for his reluctance to release funds.

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