Jack Brabham’s first Le Mans 24 Hours was the 1957 running of the endurance classic during which he shared a Cooper T39 Climax with Englishman Ian Raby…

Whilst the Coventry Climax 1097cc FPF engined car was quick the duo finished fifteenth outright and third in their 1100cc class behind the similarly engined works Lotus 11 of the American duo Herbert Mackay-Fraser and Jay Chamberlain (ninth overall) and the Bob Walshaw/John Dalton Lotus 11 FPF (thirteenth overall).

Upfront it was a Jaguar D Type rout, the marvellous British six-cylinder beasts occupied the first four places with the Ron Flockhart/Ivor Bueb Ecurie Ecosse car at the head of the chasing pack- the new 3 litre short-stroke XK engine did the trick. Click here for an article in part about this race; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

Jack and Ian Raby with their Le Mans steed, what airport folks? (unattributed)

 

(Motorsport)

Jack has his hand up to his face, perhaps he is about to indicate to a low flying Jaguar or Ferrari that he wants the pass before the next corner.

The Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ was based on the Owen Maddocks’ contemporary 500cc design specifically to accept the new Coventry Climax FWA four cylinder, two valve, single overhead camshaft, twin SU fed 1100cc engine. Later the 1460cc Climax FWB was offered and still later sleeved down 1100cc versions of the 1.5 litre FPF twin-cam, two valve engine as used by Brabham and Raby here.

(Motorsport)

Here the eighth placed, first in 1500cc class, Ed Hugus/Carel de Beaufort Porsche 550A RS chases Brabham through the ever present sand banks awaiting the unwary or careless.

I’m cheating with this shot, it’s Le Mans but a year later- in 1958 Jack shared an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with Stirling Moss, never a good guy to share with at this event given his usual role as ‘the hare’.

The car, leading strongly at the time from the start was out after only 30 laps with a buggered conrod- Jack didn’t get a steer on raceday- Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill won that year in a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa 3 litre V12.

Shots of Jack actually in an Aston Martin DBR1/300 are thin on the ground- let’s make this one almost in…

Its Goodwood, the RAC Tourist Trophy in September 1958 in which he shared a car with Cooper teammmate Roy Salvadori to second place in the race won by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks in a sister car with another DBR1 crewed by Carroll Shelby and Stuart Lewis-Evans in third place.

Winners are grinners, so too are finishers in this gruelling race- Ian Raby and Jack looking pretty happy and looking forward to a bath and a beer or a Beaujolais perhaps.

Etcetera…

(Motorsport)

Jack contemplates his Climax engine with plenty of support during practice whilst an artist sets to- the car passing is the #8 Lewis-Evans/Severi Ferrari 250 TR which swallowed a piston in practice and did not start. The pair raced a 315 Sport to fourth placed and as such were the best placed Ferrari and the only one of five Scuderia Ferrari entries to go the distance albeit 27 laps adrift of the winning Jag.

(Motorsport)

Brabham goes around the outside of one of the Lotus 11s early in the race. These ‘Bobtails’ started as central seat sportscars but as race organisers got a little antsy about that were also built with a seat either side of the centre of the car- as here.

(Motorsport)

Ian Raby…

Ian Raby on the hop, the Brighton garage owner/motor trader died after an accident in an F2 Brabham BT14 Ford Twin-cam at Zandvoort in 1967.

Raby is the type of bloke I admire- a racer to his core, he started in a Cooper Mk2 or Mk4 JAP as ‘chief cook and bottle washer’- driver, entrant, sponsor and mechanic of his little 500 and progressed to F1 as a privateer in exactly that manner. He used the moniker ‘Puddle Jumper’ on the side of some of his cars which reveals a good sense of humour and self- it is the way I described myself as a runner in my school cross-country days meaning I was an amateur compared to some of the more serious blokes.

After racing in sportscars, Formula Libre and Formula Junior he bought Keith Greene’s Grand Prix Gilby-BRM retiring from his World Championship debut race at Silverstone that year. He progressed to Brabham’s very first F1 car- BT3, by then BRM P56 V8 engined for 1964 finishing eleventh in the 1965 British GP at Brands- doubtless he was a proud man that day.

Raby, Cooper Mk8 Norton, Brands Hatch, Francis Beart Trophy, 4 September 1955- he won his heat but was unplaced in the final (500race.org)

 

The ‘Puddle Jumper’ Cooper T39 Climax in Denmark circa 1957, details appreciated (unattributed)

Formula 2 was a bit more cost-effective so Ian raced a Merlyn Mk9 Cosworth SCA sporadically in 1965 and a more competitive 1965 Brabham BT14 in 1966. Whilst not running right at the pointy end- it was a Brabham Honda year, and he was a regular Cosworth customer not up the front of the SCA queue- but he finished usually just behind the F1 pros and true ‘coming-men’- eighths at Oulton, eleventh at Goodwood and then a splendid fourth at the Nürburgring in April in front of Rindt, Peter Arundell and Kurt Ahrens- good company!

Rabu had an accident in the Brabham at Brands in October but repaired the car and fitted a Lotus-Ford Twin-cam for the first year of the 1.6 litre F2 in 1967 and slipped down the lists- sometimes he was the best of the twin-cams but they were giving away 20bhp or so at best to the dominant 210bhp FVAs.

Ian was eighth at Snetterton, thirteenth at Silverstone, sixteenth at the Nürburgring that year- far below his performance with a more competitive package the previous year. What shows in just skimming through the results is that he was a finished- he wasn’t the fastest bloke on track but he was consistent and brought the thing home- he could obviously prepare his cars well too.

Raby during the 1963 Silverstone British GP weekend, Gilby BRM, DNF gearbox from Q19- Clark won in a Lotus 25 Climax (unattributed)

 

Ian Raby, British GP, Brands Hatch 1964. Q17 and DNF undisclosed, Brabham BT3 BRM (unattributed)

In the Guards International Trophy meeting at Mallory he was sixth behind Surtees, Gardner, McLaren, Ickx and Allan Rollinson. Ninth in the Limborg GP in Belgium followed and then two appearances at Hockenheim for eighth in June and fifth in the F2 Championship round in July. At Tulln-Langenlebarn, Vienna he finished thirteenth and was a DNF at Jarama in late July.

After that weekend he towed his little Brabham to Holland for the 30 July Grand Prix of Zandvoort on 30 July. Whilst Jacky Ickx set about winning the race in Ken Tyrrell’s Matra MS5 FVA Ian left the road on lap 6 and went through the fence at the very fast Rob Slotemaker Esses, he was extracted from the badly damaged car with critical fractures to his head, back and legs and then seemed to be on the road to recovery before succumbing three months after the accident.

Ian Raby, born 22 September 1921, died on 7 November 1967 aged 46, a dedicated racer taken before his time.

Ian Raby, Brabham BT14 Ford twin-cam, Eiffelrennen, Nurburgring 1967

Credits…

Motorsport, F2 Index, Jornal Dos Classicos, 500 Owners Association, Harry Michelbach

Tailpiece…

(Motorsport)

Jack ranging up to pass the Monopole X88 Panhard Coupe- twentieth overall but not running at the finish- the little 750cc machine was crewed by two Pierres- Chancel and Flauhault.

Finito…

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