For Sale, everything for sale…

Posted: June 19, 2021 in Features
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Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1963 (J Ellacott)

The airwaves were abuzz last year with the news of Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari.

It seems only yesterday he was the ‘enfant terrible’ giving Mark Webber plenty of stick, a decade or so later, the worm turned for him in the form of Monsieur de Clerc.

Still Seb has been on a motza for a decade or so, resort islands are cheap in the post Covid 19 world, back in ‘the good ole’ days’ the commerce of motor racing was a tad tougher.

(New York Times)
Vettel and Leclerc after a territorial dispute in Brazil 2019

Jack Brabham worked all the angles; he built racing cars with Ron Tauranac, raced cars in F1 via his business Brabham Racing Organisation and raced Coopers for the works and via ‘Ecurie Vitesse’.

Not to forget modified cars via Jack Brabham conversions, columns in magazines which were ghosted for him and the sale of this years car to Australian racers at the end of each summer; the Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955, Cooper T39 Bobtail in 1956, Cooper T41 Climax FWB in 1957 and lordy knows how many T45/51/53s from 1958 onwards.

By the Australian summer of 1962/3, he and Tauranac had built and raced their first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV V8 from the middle ’62 season. They constructed a Coventry Climax FPF engined variant of that spaceframe design for ‘Intercontinental’ use designated the BT4.

Jack took the first of these machines to Australia for the 1962 AGP at Caversham, outside Perth. He was looking good for a win after a furious dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 when he tangled with Arnold Glass’ BRM P25 Buick V8, Bruce bagged a nice win.

Not to worry, the car made a good impression on the local hotshots, many of whom had bought Coopers from him, or via him. There were the NZ Internationals to contest and several races in Australia in those immediate pre-Tasman Cup years.

Jack started from the front row of the NZ GP at Pukekohe but cooked a head gasket after only 12 laps- John Surtees’ Lola T4A Climax won. He won at Levin from Tony Maggs and Innes Ireland who were Lola T4 Climax and Ferguson P99 Climax mounted. On the Wigram FNZAF Airfield Bruce McLaren won in the Cooper T62, at Teretonga Bruce won again, with Jack fourth albeit he took the lap record- Maggs and Ireland were again second and third.

While the racing was going on so too was the commerce. David McKay purchased Jack’s BT4 after Teretonga, Bib Stillwell ordered one too which was entered at Warwick Farm. A replacement car was air-freighted to Jack for the Australian races, which in time honoured Brabham fashion he would sell to Lex Davison at the end of the summer.

The Australian Grand Prix was held at Warwick Farm that year on February 10. Brabham BT4s dominated the results sheet; Jack won in his new ‘IC-2-62’, David McKay was fourth in Jack’s ‘old’ ‘IC-1-61’ and Bib Stillwell was fifth in his new ‘IC-3-’62’. Interlopers were Surtees and McLaren – second and third in Lola Mk4A and Cooper T62 respectively.

It wasn’t an easy win for Jack mind you, the ship carrying the new car arrived late so it had to be flown from Melbourne to Sydney, finally arriving late on the Friday night.

As Jack recalled in Doug Nye’s book, instead of Tim Wall having days to prepare the car, he had ten hours. The car was at the Farm early, but lost the first of the early sessions with an electrical short. During second practice, Jack scrubbed in tyres and got the engine running properly, by the end of the day he was happy with the car despite starting from the rear of the grid.

In the race Brabham ‘sliced clean through the field’, then Surtees spun out of the lead on lap 31 of 45, allowing Jack to close right in and slipstream past on Hume Straight into Creek Corner. The resident bugler did his thing and crowd went nuts! (two shots below)

From Sydney, the circus headed north to Brisbane’s Lakeside where Surtees won from Hill, Stillwell and Chris Amon in David McKay’s old Cooper T53. It was one of a series of great performances that summer which saw him scooped up by the Parnell team and taken to Europe.

The teams then had a two week break to prepare the cars and transport them to Melbourne and across Bass Straight for the South Pacific Championship held over the Labour Day long weekend in early March.

Bruce McLaren won from pole, equally impressive was Bib’s second place only a second adrift of the Kiwi international and then local boy John Youl third in his Cooper T55- both the guys in front of him ran 2.7 FPFs, Youl’s was a 2.5.

Then it was back across Bass Straight for the opening Sandown meeting (above). There Bruce was again on pole from Jack, and won from Maggs and McKay with Jack a DNF engine a lap before the finish.

While Jack did a roaring trade in Brabham BT4s there is little doubt that had there been a Tasman Cup in 1963 Bruce would have won it, a feat he managed in ‘the first McLaren’ – a Cooper T70 – Climax the following year.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, autopics.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

img_5785

(K Devine)

Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, ain’t she sweet.

Finito…

Comments
  1. John Ballantyne says:

    A brilliant article

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    The lead photo is captioned “Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1964”. I believe that should read “………1963”.

    Rob Bartholomaeus

  3. Colin Smeal says:

    I remember so well that AGP at Warwick Farm, on the mound at the bottom of Hume straight and seeing the late braking and overtaking into Creek Corner – fantastic stuff you never forget – and of course the bugler.

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