‘Cmon Dad £1 a week isn’t much…you know i’m saving for a racing car!? Lets cut a deal and then you can go back to qualifying ok?…’
I doubt he did the deal, Jack a notoriously tough negotiator and parsimonious, but Geoff did get his first racer, a Bowin P6F Formula Ford in 1974 and did rather well from there, Jack doing his bit along the way!
Brabham had done a few races in 1973 in an Elfin 620 FF but mounted a serious camapign for the Australian National FF title in 1974 driving John Leffler’s championship winning car from ’73. These Bowins were very advanced for their day; wedge shape, hip radiators and rising rate suspension front and rear, this in a car first built in 1972.So advanced were the cars that later Reynard designer, Malcolm Oastler was still winning in a P6F in 1983.
Geoff progressed to Australian F2 in 1975 winning the title in a Birrana 274 Ford, ANF2 then was a 1.6 litre, DOHC 2 valve formula, effectively mandating the Lotus Ford twin cam engine, the ‘ducks guts’ variant, the ‘Hart 416B’ producing circa 205bhp.
This wings and slicks experience was important for Brabham in his UK F3 and US Super Vee racing in various Ralt RT1’s over the next 3 years.
Brabham raced in the British F3 Championships in 1976 and 1977, moved to the ‘States in 1979 and won the Super Vee Championship in a Ralt RT1 also breaking into ‘big cars’ late that year with a Single Seat CanAm 5 litre Hogan HR001 Chev.
Over the following years he mixed Indycars and CanAm winning the 1981 Championship in Count Rudy Van der Stratens VDS Teams self built car, VDS001 having been quicker than teammate and 1980 Champion Patrick Tambay in identical Lola T530 Chevs in the second half of the season.
He raced Indycars from 1981 to 1987, and then periodically, in the early 90’s, in the last 4 years just competing at Indianapolis, his best Indy finish 4th in a VDS entered Penske PC10 Ford in 1983.
In sports cars he was an ace, winning 4 IMSA GT Championships with various of Nissans sports cars run by ‘Kas’ Kastner in the US.
He competed at Le Mans with Nissan in 1989 and 1990 and was a logical choice for Renault as a safe, experienced, fast driver as part of the 1993 Peugeot Team to repeat the success of the year before, the 3.5 litre V10 905 Evo 1 a very quick car, in essence a 2 seat GP car. He won the race partnered by Eric Helary and Christophe Bouchot, taking a race win that Jack didn’t, JB wasn’t a LeMans regular but did compete with Matra in 1970, his final season in Europe. https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/
Jack settled the family in rural Wagga Wagga in New South Wales in 1971, well away from motor racing but it was not long before the pleasures of bucolic life, whatever they may be, were overwhelmed by the Brabham boys ‘need for speed’, all graduating from Australian Formula Ford to F3 in the UK in turn!
Geoff Brabham returned to Australia in the early ’90’s racing both 2 litre ‘Super Tourers’ and ‘V8 Supercars’. He was runner up in both the 1995 and 1997 Super Touring Championship and won the 1997 Bathurst 1000 Super Touring race partnered by his brother David.
GB had a remarkably diverse career, as versatile in his time as Jack was in his, and a career of achievement especially if comparisons with his father, such a difficult act to follow, are put to one side!
The Brabham Racing Dynasty continues with Geoffs’ son Matthew finishing 4th in the 2014 Indy Lights Championship driving a Dallara Nissan for Andretti Motorsport. http://matthewbrabham.com/ David Brabhams’ son Sam is also competing and hoping to make the Le Mans grid this year…
Bernard Cahier, Chris Nally, Mark Windecker, RIAM Photo Archive, John Brewer Collection, David Lawson, Bob Jane Collection, Getty Images