Jack Brabham as One of The Greatest Athletes in F1 History

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1074 words

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Inflexible character, serious, even distant, away from the spotlight, without public life, correct, educated, committed, calm and focused on daily work avoiding banal distractions. Jack Brabham was the opposite of what we now understand as a sports media star. But he was one of the greatest athletes in history, at least in terms of achievements. Triple world champion of F-1; the last title, piloting a single-seater that he himself had designed. A milestone that nobody has been able to emulate. His history, talent and success deserve to be remembered as one of the great legends of motorsport.

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Born in Hurstville, near Sydney, John Arthur Brabham did not belong to a wealthy family. His father had a fruit and vegetable stand, something that never went through Jack's head as a way of life to come. Of course, with twelve years and driving the van of his father, but piloting was not his passion. His was to gut cars, to know how his insides worked. That's why he was in charge of repairing the delivery truck. He entered a technical school of mechanical engineering, but left with fifteen years to go to work at a store of car parts that also worked as a garage.

He will not be remembered for his smile and hence his nickname, 'Black Jack', but from time to time he showed his sense of humor. In the image, walk a stuffed tiger.Enlarge

He will not be remembered for his smile and hence his nickname, 'Black Jack', but from time to time he showed his sense of humor. In the image, walk a stuffed tiger. STR (AFP)

Three years later he joined the Royal Air Force of Australia in Adelaide, where he wanted to learn to fly, but instead was required to fill a position as a mechanic, to fix the 'Beaufighters' (heavy and long range fighters) during the World War II due to the scarcity of them in Australian aviation. After leaving the army he convinced his grandfather to give him land and his uncle, builder, to build a hangar that Brabham converted into his first garage. There he met an American pilot, John Schonberg, husband of a friend, who introduced him to the world of the 'midgets'. They joined forces for Brabham to design a car and Schonberg to pilot it. In the third race, the American woman forbade him to drive ... and Brabham did not think about it.

There was born the pilot who won four Australian titles in the category. At that time he decided to marry his girlfriend Betty, mother of his three children, and in the 50s he went to Europe to run the F-2 and work as a mechanic in Cooper, with which he debuted in Formula 1. Four years later he won his First title in a unique way: pushing the car the last fifty meters in Sebring. Tenacious, tireless, determined, intense. His Cooper ran out of gasoline 400 meters from the finish line and the inertia brought him closer to 50 of the checkered flag, the last meters he ran through with a kidney stroke. Thus, he proclaimed himself world champion for the first time, a success that he also repeated with Cooper the following season.

Jack Brabham was the opposite of what we now understand as a media star of world sport

Anyone else would have exploited fame and taken the easy way, but Brabham was not like that. I needed challenges. I call his friend Ron Turanac and together they created Motor Racing Development, a concept to develop chassis for clients that led to a 100% Australian Formula One team. In 1966, with the new three-liter engines, Brabham got the title he is most proud of. "The team had an Australian designer, Ron Tauranac, Australian mechanics and an Australian engine built by Repco. It was something like Australia against the rest of the world, and winning with that group of people was very exciting. It's a record that will never be matched, "Brabham once said.

Brabham was a special guy. He refused to work for Ferrari despite receiving the call from the 'Commendatore' himself, Enzo Ferrari. "I never went to the meeting, I was not interested, I was only in beating them, not in joining them. Ferrari was the rival, and had to be treated as such. " His biography was entitled 'When the race begins, the bullshit is over', a perfect definition of the ideal of Sir Jack's work, a man dedicated body and soul to improve. "We spent the day and night building cars, and we drove to relax," he confessed many years after retiring. It was the memory that those years brought him.

In 1970 he retired at the request of his wife. It left for the legend a unique career that has escaped the great flashes of memory. Few include him among the greats of history, but he was certainly one of them. At least the one who knew the most about cars and that's why it's not surprising that he chose Stirling Moss as the best driver he had ever seen. Someone who never won a single title. Of course, he was four times runner-up and three times third. Last year, in an interview with an 'aussie' media, Brabham was asked how he saw most of the current riders not knowing mechanics. Black Jack replied: "My ability to understand and modify the car certainly helped in my success. There are very few pilots today who know a lot about how to set up and design a car. They are almost totally dependent on their engineers and equipment to help fine-tune the setup. The notion of 'pilot-engineer' is an art in extinction. It's a shame, but it's symptomatic of the changes that motor sport has experienced in recent years. "

"We spent the day and the night building the cars, and we were piloting to relax," he said.

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To end this humble tribute, a last anecdote perhaps less known but showing that Brabham dared everything. After being champion of F-1 in 1960 with the Cooper, he modified it himself and signed up to compete in the Indy 500. In the USA they laughed until they were fed up when they saw him arrive with that small European car with a central rear engine and barely 270 HP. When he was third, fear gripped their faces. Finally he was ninth among applauses and recognitions. The tireless worker returned to teach a lesson. One of many. Rest in peace.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Jack Brabham as One of the Greatest Athletes in F1 History. (2019, Jun 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Jack Brabham as One of the Greatest Athletes in F1 History.” GradesFixer, 27 Jun. 2019,
Jack Brabham as One of the Greatest Athletes in F1 History. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2023].
Jack Brabham as One of the Greatest Athletes in F1 History [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jun 27 [cited 2023 Sept 29]. Available from:
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