by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 202
It’s the second round of the 1997 CART Championship and Australia’s Gold Coast is in party mode. On the Friday night of race week, there is a special function, hosted by Honda, to celebrate its first championship in the series in 1996. Champion driver Jimmy Vasser is there and is genuinely thrilled when a jacket specially made for the occasion, and bearing the winged Honda logo in its original form, is presented to him by Honda’s President, who has flown in from Japan. A number of special guests are present, including tennis legend Evonne Cawley. So too is Jack Brabham who has been, and who would continue to be for the rest of his life, an ambassador for Honda. He says a few words, and so too does Honda’s President, Nobuhiko Kawamoto. After they speak, we in the media are invited to have a bite to eat and a drink, but we are told, politely but firmly, that neither Brabham nor Kawamoto will be available for any further comment. Jack and his mate Nobby, who was one of Honda’s engineers on its F2 project and the man ordered by Honda-san to build that engine for Rouen, are the best of friends, and want to catch up. And that is what happens. Much has been written in the last week about Jack Brabham’s achievements, his titles, his legacy. Whatever has been said, even what I write here, hardly does the man justice. Whatever he did on the track, whatever his sons have done and continue to do on the track, or what his grandsons will do, his influence reaches around the globe and is still felt across the sport today. Kawamoto was Honda’s fourth President. Its third was Tadashi Kume, who was also one of the engineers on Honda’s F2 project. Kume once said of Brabham and Tauranac, “Jack and Ron taught us how to win races” . When Kawamoto took over in 1990, Honda greenlit a number of racing projects, including its CART program and an all-Honda F1 car, the development of which looked very promising until it ended with the unexpected death of its designer Harvey Postlethwaite in 1999. At the time Brabham was winning in F1 and F2 his team, Brabham Racing Organisation, was 11 people – and that included the drivers and the secretary. Among those people were Tauranac, who went on to run the Brabham team after Jack retired, then establish and build Ralt into one of the biggest racing car manufacturers in the world. One of the few Brits in BRO was John Judd, whose work on the Repco engine was so important, and whose company Engine Developments went on to build its own motors for F1, F2, Champ Car and IndyCar and Sportscar racing. The experience that Phil Kerr gained at Brabham was very important when Bruce McLaren wanted to follow in Brabham’s footsteps, leave Cooper and set up his own team. McLaren had been Brabham’s teammate at Coopers, after Jack urged John Cooper and his father Charles to hire the youngster in 1958 after seeing him race in New Zealand. And of course, after McLaren started to lose its competitiveness in the late 1970s, it was merged with the Project Four team, with Ron Dennis – a former mechanic who joined BRO in 1968 – in charge. Had there not been a Jack Brabham, would McLaren the driver get his big break, race for Cooper and go on to start McLaren the team? Would Dennis have ever become an F1 team boss? It is impossible to say it would not have happened somehow – but Brabham did set many of the wheels in motion that allowed all of this, and much more in the sport besides, to happen. As for the future ... In six months time, McLaren and Honda will start testing for their reunion in 2015. Both sides of that partnership have more than a little Brabham in their racing DNA. Sir Jack Brabham may be gone but, even after his death, his influence, ‘the Brabham way’, will continue at the very highest level in motorsport. One thing leads to another It's 31 years after Jack's 1966 victories ... PHIL BRANAGAN takes up the story F1 >>> sir JACK BrABHAM Branagan is not usually one to pose with racing cars – but last Monday, with the ’66 championship winning Repco Brabham BT19, the temptation was just too much. ABOVe F1 Manufacturers – Brabham, McLaren, Gurney (Eagle) – Jack helped both McLaren and Gurney to get a start ... 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: