Jack Brabham (1926 – 2014)

Jack Brabham in the #17 Cooper-Climax at the 1961 Indy 500
Jack Brabham in the rear-engined Cooper Climax T54 at the 1961 Indianapolis 500

Sir Jack Brabham AO, OBE, triple Formula 1 World Champion, has died at the age of 88. Sir Jack passed away peacefully at his Gold Coast, Australia, home on Monday 19th May 2014.

Formula 1 World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966 and double Constructors’ Champion (1966 and 1967), Sir Jack was one of the most accomplished drivers and team owners in the history of the sport. The first driver to be knighted for services to motorsport, ‘Black Jack’ rose from racing midgets on dirt ovals in Australia to dominate global motorsport.

His first two titles in the Cooper Climax marked the end for front-engined Formula 1 cars. The third made him the only driver in history to win a World Championship in a car of his own manufacture, the Brabham BT19 – a feat unlikely to ever be repeated.

Acclaimed as a brilliant engineer, technological innovations brought about by the Brabham team helped to shape the sport. Through his partnership with Ron Tauranac, over 500 Brabham racecars were built from the team’s British Surrey base in the 1960s alone, while the Brabham name continued in F1 for 30 years.

“Every time an Indy car runs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you can find roots that trace back to Jack Brabham’s rear-engined Cooper Climax T54 that he drove to 9th place in the 1961 Indianapolis 500,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “In addition to starting the rear-engine revolution at IMS, Brabham competed in four Indianapolis 500 Mile Races and designed race cars that competed in the 500. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brabham family, especially with his son and former Indianapolis 500 competitor Geoff Brabham and his grandson and current Indy Lights competitor Matthew Brabham.”

Although Jack scored his final win in the 1970 South African Grand Prix, the legacy has continued with all three of his sons achieving their own global success, while third generation drivers Matthew and Sam are building their own notable racing careers.

On behalf of the family, Jack’s youngest son David said, “It’s a very sad day for all of us. My father passed away peacefully at home at the age of 88 this morning. He lived an incredible life, achieving more than anyone would ever dream of and he will continue to live on through the astounding legacy he leaves behind.”

Sir Jack is survived by his wife, Lady Margaret, sons Geoff, Gary and David and their families.

[Source: Jack Brabham; photo: IMS]

Show Comments (6)

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  1. When in 1962 I had a chance to buy a Cooper T52, I jumped at it. I had watched Jack Brabham (as well as Stirling Moss, Bruce McClaren, Maurice Trintignant, Roy Salvidori, et al) doing magic things with the little cars. So I assumed that even a Cooper FJr would be the thing to have, and for some time it definitely was. I loved racing that car, and I loved following Brabham’s accomplishments as a great World Champion. I’m now reminded of his quote, “When the flag drops, the BS stops,” and he proved the truth of that over and over. (Consider Indy 1961 as a prime example.)

    Today I also have this lovely comment from a friend “in the business”, who knew and dealt with Sir Jack as a client for many years:
    “Oh dear, that really is very bad news about Jack. He really was a gentleman indeed. He signed-up with me and was charming, friendly, helpful, accommodating and above all, modest. The nicest driver I ever met. GOD BLESS HIM.”

    God bless Sir Jack, indeed.
    Larry Perkins

    1. My late husband was part of the team at Repco Brabham Engine Co. In Maidstone, Melbourne and I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Jack many times both ‘in the day” and in later years at historic meetings and RB reunions. His death ends an era in motor racing that I’m proud to have been associated with. Jack was a brilliant driver, a quiet and modest achiever and dare I say, a wily old fox who inspired loyalty and respect from all who worked with him. My sympathy goes out to his wife, Margaret and family at this very sad time.

      Re “When the flag drops”. This was the title of Jack Brabham’s biography published in 1971.

  2. I thought it was the South African Hawkins who coined the phrase “when the flag drops, etc. etc……
    Nevertheless, I revered ‘Sir Jack’

    1. My attribution may be mistaken, Dieter. It’s been said so often – and by so many others too. But the sentiment is genuine, and will be echoed by every driver worth his salt. Once you get going, there’s no faking it! (Ironically, in much of motor racing, notably F1, there’s no flag anymore … pity, that!!)

  3. My condolences to the great family of the corridor and engineer Mr Jack Braham, which I had the chance to see him run in the racetrack of the City and Mexico several times and where he had to leave once by a dog that got to the track was a poor coordination of the organizers hope that this in the best track of the sky, its careful and secure server Carlos Alvarez.

  4. Hi Larry

    I have your old Cooper T52. FJ/14/60 taht you raced back in 1962.

    What colour was the car? I am wanting to repaint it in the Colours you raced in.

    Regards Nigel Russell
    nigel@ecpltd.co.nz