Autosport Awards - 3, David Brabham
Famous Son Of A Legendary Father

It was a very pleasant surprise to see Sir Jack Brabham awarded a Gregor Grant Award at the Autosport Awards last night. Senator Carlos Reutemann was on hand to present the trophy, for Sir Jack’s immense contibution to the world of motorsport, as a driver and a constructor. He is still the only driver to win a world championship in a car of his own construction. Reutemann was able to reel off a string of Brabham single seaters that had formed part of his own career.

Sir Jack and Lady Brabham have made another sizeable contribution to motorsport history, with their three sons all having achieved success on the world’s circuits, Gary and Geoff having won the 12 Hours of Sebring together in 1991 for Nissan with Geoff also taking the win at Le Mans in the Peugeot 905 in 1993. There was a sojourn in F1 and Indycars too for Gary, with Geoff also racing on the US single seater scene for many years.

The two elder brothers have both retired from international racing, but David Brabham is still firmly part of the racing scene: his F1 career started in 1991 with, rather poetically, a Brabham and continued, via testing roles with several teams, to Simtek in 1994.

Nowadays though Brabham is best known as a sportscar racer par excellence and it was he who guided his now 79 year old father to the stage to pick up his award.

As the evening’s proceedings drew to a close there was an opportunity to take a few minutes to ask David to look back, and, as it turned out, to look forward too, to his plans for 2007.

“Well far from opening doors initially it’s fair to say that Dad originally rather discouraged me from getting involved in racing.

“Having said that I didn’t initially need very much discouragement at all. As a kid I knew that I wanted to grow up and play football for Manchester United!

“I was pretty good for my age and played for a team that had a fair amount of success. That all finished though when I went on to Agricultural College way away from the city, where nobody had a clue about football, they all thought I was talking about Aussie rules.

“I actually saw racing for the first time when I went to visit Geoff in America and saw him racing an Indycar.

“When I got back a neighbour and me went to watch the go-karts at the new South Wales country title. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing, the things were just so fast!. We decided we were going to club together and buy a kart and when I told dad I wanted to go racing he nearly fell over! I’m sure he was thinking, “Oh my god not you as well!!”

He took some convincing and it was only when we were packing up the kart to go to our first meeting that he said “I might come with you.”

I think he just needed convincing that I was serious, that I would be committed to it. He did give us some advice at that early stage. I remember him picking up an old bit of plastic and laying it down on the track to show me the right line - “You just clip that and then the apex” - but by then I’d been driving on the farm for years so I reckon I would have picked it up pretty easily.

“Once he was convinced that I was prepared to put the effort in, that if I needed to get up at 4 am to drive for five hours to a track, that I would do it and not complain about it, he was very supportive.”

In recent years David’s sportscar racing career has continued at the highest level. For the last two years, his talents have been most regularly seen aboard GT1 and GT2 cars.

“That’s about to change though,” he said, “While we’ve been sitting here the press release has gone out announcing that I’ll be with Highcroft Racing next season, with the Acura engined Courage LC75.”

“We had two days of testing at Homestead with plenty of track time in day, night and wet conditions. It was a great couple of days. After two years in GT cars I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed getting in one of these things again.

“The Acura effort is huge, a really massive and very talented group of people. It felt like being with a top F1 team must feel like. Every possible resource was being sunk into it.

“LMP2 looks like being amazing next year. The Porsches of course have a year of racing behind them, but they have learnt some lessons and that meant they needed to build a new car.

“From what I’ve seen already, I have massive confidence that the Acuras will be right up there. It may not be at the first race, or even the fifth, but this programme is going to change sportscar racing as we currently know it.”
GG

 

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