Posts Tagged ‘Brabham BT33 Ford’

Tim Schenken, Merlyn Mk11 Formula Ford and his rivals at Brands Hatch, 20 September 1968…

Chris Steele, Tim’s tuner/entrant dispenses advice to the Formula Ford ‘flock’ comprising Ray Allen, Brian Smith, Dave Morgan and Tony Trimmer. No doubt it’s a press shot to promote an upcoming race meeting; two of these fellows made it through to Formula 1- Schenken and Trimmer, the well of talent in Formula Ford has been deep in every season including its first couple.

Schenken cut his racing teeth in Australia, initially with an Austin A30 and later a Lotus 18 Ford FJ. By the time he contested some F3 races in an old Lotus in the UK in 1967 he had plenty of experience- the step ‘back’ into the new Formula Ford class paid off in spades with wins in both the 1968 British Formula Ford and Lombank F3 Championship- as a consequence he carried away the main 1968 Grovewood Award.

Tetsu Ikuzawa Brabham BT21B from Tim Schenken Chevron B9 Ford, Martini International Meeting Silverstone 1968 (M Hayward)

In 1970 he broke into Grand Prix Racing with Frank William’s De Tomaso 505 Ford, that ride arose as a result of Piers Courage’ death during the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix.

His promise was confirmed with drives in the year old Brabham BT33 Ford for Ron Tauranac in 1971, his first career mistake was jumping out of Brabham as BC Ecclestone acquired it at the end of ’71. Surtees was far from the worst place to be at the time but staying put would have been better.

Tim was as quick as Mike Hailwood at Surtees but the slip down the F1 totem pole was quick once he left and the climb back up is even harder.

I don’t think we ever saw his best in Grand Prix racing but point scoring races and an F1 podium, not to forget his F2, European GT Championship  and works Ferrari 312PB sportscar wins form part of a CV any of us would be rather happy to have.

Schenken, Brabham BT33 Ford, Canadian GP 1971 DNF (unattributed)

Tim’s best results in F1 were sixth and third placings for Brabham in 1971 at Hockenheim and the Osterreichring and fifth, seventh and eighth for Surtees in 1972 at Argentina, Mosport and Spain. In non-championship F1 he was third in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and third in the 1972 International Gold Cup at Oulton Park.

Schenken aboard his Merlyn Mk11 FF in 1968

Credits…

Getty Images, Mike Hayward Collection, Victor Blackman, LAT Images

Other Tim Schenken Article…

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/03/frank-williams-and-tim-schenken-austrian-grand-prix-1970/

Schenken testing the Merlyn at Brands during 1968 (LAT)

Tailpiece: Ron Tauranac, Tim and Hill G with Hill’s Brabham BT34 Ford, Silverstone, British GP weekend July 1971- note the rig to attach a camera, the GoPro is still a while away…

Finito…

 

(Getty)

Jochen Rindt’s winning Lotus 72C Ford in the Brands Hatch paddock at the end of the British Grand Prix, 18 July 1970…

Its a top shot of the rear of a great, long lived racing car. Chapman’s latest masterpiece, the detail design of which was the work of Maurice Phillippe was only several months old- it made its debut at Jarama in mid April, but such were the changes needed to get the concept working as intended, only several months later it was already in ‘C’ specification. I wrote an article about the early 72 and it’s development a while back; https://primotipo.com/2017/05/19/designers-original-intent/

You can see how Chapman was putting more weight on the rear of the car in search of traction- the engine oil tank and cooler and upright Varley lightweight aircraft battery mounted aft of the endcase of the Hewland FG400 gearbox. Look closely either side of the gearbox and you can see the ends of the round tubular torsion bars which provided the spring medium on this car- the two vertical wing stays lower ends pick up on the brackets which support the torsion bars.

I know a bit about the 1970 international season. 1971 was the year of my motor racing awakening, which, having not yet been to a race meeting, was aided and abetted by the 1970 Australian Motor Racing Yearbook and Automobile Year 18 which cover the 1970 season. I borrowed and returned Automobile Year 18 dozens of times during the 1971-1974 period from the Camberwell Grammar School library in Melbourne. I’m such a sick little unit that all these decades later I can pretty much rattle off the winners of each GP and World Endurance event that season!

Keen students of 1970 and thereabouts will know that Jochen Rindt had a shocker of a year with Brabham in 1968- the BT26 Repco was fast but the ‘860 Series’ 32 valve Repco V8’s were fragile so the great Austrian decamped to Lotus for 1969- he finally archieved his breakthrough first championship Grand Prix win at Watkins Glen at the seasons end having comprehensively blown off the reigning World Champion, Graham Hill, from the time he first popped his butt into a Gold Leaf Team Lotus 49 during the Tasman Summer of ’69.

Rindt, Brabham BT26 Repco ‘860’ V8, French GP, Rouen 1968. The ’68 Brabham’s were fast- Jochen started from pole, but the engines were as unreliable as the 1966/7 motors were paragons of reliability. Such a pity Repco and JB didn’t race on into 1969- the ‘860’ 3 litres would have been competitive with development. Ickx’ Ferrari 312 won in France, Rindt DNF with a leaking fuel tank (B Cahier)

Jochen wasn’t a happy Lotus camper at all though, concerned as he was about the fragility of Chapman’s cars, not that his enormous Spanish Grand Prix accident, his worst of the year, was his only component failure or worry. He had raced Brabham F2 cars for years, had enjoyed his season with Jack and Ron Tauranac in 1968 despite the dramas and had agreed terms with Jack verbally to return to the Brabham Racing Organisation for 1970. Jack had told him of the teams plans to build their first monocoque Grand Prix car which promised to have all of the attributes for which Brabhams were justifiably famous- with the added strength, torsional stiffness and  safety afforded by such a design. With an ace secured, Jack planned to retire from driving at the end of 1969.

When Rindt told Chapman of his plans Colin put together a deal funded by John Player and Ford- an offer Jochen simply could not afford to refuse. Jochen put the situation to Jack, the ultimate pragmatist graciously did not hold Jochen to the agreement struck and allowed Rindt to stay at Lotus, win the World Title using a mix of Lotus 49 and 72, and, sadly, die in a Lotus 72 as a result of a brake driveshaft component failure at Monza.

Jack and Ron with Brabham BT33-2, Jack’s 1970 chassis. Car tested at Riverside prior to its South African GP debut win. This photo is at the cars ‘press launch’ at MRD, 9 Januray 1970, no frills for the boys from Brabham- start of the final year of such a successful and enduring partnership between two like-minded men (W Vanderson)

With all the best drivers committed for 1970 Brabham raced on for one final year with Rolf Stommelen bringing money from Ford Germany to secure the other Brabham BT33 seat.

Its interesting to look at the ‘Jack and Jochen F1 races’ of 1970, filled as they are with luck, misfortune and fate…

Jack started the season like a youngster, putting the new car third on the grid together with the new March 701’s of Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon.

Stewart jumped into the lead from the off leaving Rindt’s Lotus 49C Ford and Amon to collide at the first corner, with Jochen winging Jack on his way through but not damaging the car. Ickx Ferrari 312B, Beltoise Matra MS120, Oliver BRM P153 and McLaren McLaren M14A Ford got in front of the Australian as a consequence of all this- but Jack quickly recovered and had passed all four of them by the end of lap 6. In a great, spirited drive Jack set off after Stewart and took the lead on lap 20- and held it to the end winning from Denny Hulme’s McLaren M14A Ford and Stewart’s Ken Tyrrell run March 701 Ford.

No doubt Jochen reflected upon the speed of his friends new car as he awaited Chapman’s wedged wonder!

JB, BT33, Zeltweg, Austrian GP 1970. Q8 and 13th 4 laps behind after a troubled run. Ickx won in a Ferrari 312B, Rindt started from pole in his home race but raced behind Ickx and Regazzoni’s Ferraris before popping an engine. Note the ally monocoque tub, fuel filler, shift for the Hewland DG300 and simple ‘non-structural’ dash (B Cahier)

Jochen was frustrated, the Lotus 72 made its debut at Jarama, Spain- unsurprisingly with a somewhat radical car the 72 was not to have the debut wins of the 25 in 1962 and 49 in 1967, both at Zandvoort.

It was clear the 72 needed substantial work (as detailed in the linked article above) so Chapman also tasked his Team Lotus engineers to tweak the 49 one last time to ‘D’ specification, including changes to the suspension geometry and adoption of the 72’s wing package, to provide Rindt with a more competitive car for Monaco.

So Jochen approached this race with a very negative frame of mind. Nigel Roebuck wrote in a MotorSport article about the 1970 Monaco GP weekend that Colin Chapman said “If Jochen felt there was no chance of winning, quite often he just went through the motions…”

Despite the changes to the ‘old girl’ in the first session his 49 was ‘sixth fastest, but his time – 1m 25.9s – was almost two seconds slower than Jackie Stewart’s March; in the second it poured, and Rindt, disinterested, was slowest of all; in the third he felt queasy, and was two seconds off his Thursday time. The problem was seasickness. That weekend Rindt was sharing a private yacht with his good friend and manager Bernie Ecclestone, and while the future ruler of Formula 1 slept soundly through a choppy Friday night, Jochen did not, and that merely added to his despondency about the race. “No chance,” he said to his wife Nina. “I’ll just drive around…” Roebuck wrote.

Brabham in the Monaco pitlane wearing his ‘Jet Jackson’ aircraft type helmet a few of the drivers tried that season- Stewart and Courage also (unattributed)

The front two rows comprised Stewart from Amon, then Hulme and Brabham with Jochen way back in 8th slot. Stewart took the lead from the start and led Amon, Brabham, Ickx and Beltoise.

What about Jochen? In the early laps he seemed to be in ‘cruise and collect mode’, on lap 3 he was passed for seventh place by Henri Pescarolo’s Matra and there he propped with his position gradually improving by attrition. Ickx and Beltoise’ Ferrari and Matra disappeared early, putting Rindt up to sixth, which became fifth when Stewart’s March stopped with engine failure. At this stage, though, 28 laps in, he was already 16 seconds behind Brabham.

‘At least, though, his interest was awakened. On lap 36 he repassed Pescarolo, and set off after Denny Hulme, whom he got by on lap 41: third now, with only Brabham and Amon ahead.’

With a whiff of possible victory, 15 seconds behind the leaders, Rindt now kept pace with them, closing a little and when Amon’s March retired on lap 61- yet another GP win eluded the luckless Kiwi there was only his old employer in the car he could have driven, Brabham ahead.

Look at that crowd, 1970, protection still basic, Brabham BT33 (LAT)

Rindt bearing down upon Jack- second last lap (Deviantart)

Jack was unconcerned though. With Amon gone and Jochen still 13 seconds back, he seemed set for his first Monaco win since 1959 with only 4 laps to run, his lead was still nine seconds.

‘Then everything began to unravel. On lap 77, at the top of the hill, he encountered Siffert’s March, stuttering along with a fuel feed problem, Seppi paying little attention to his mirrors. Obliged almost to stop, Brabham instantly dropped five seconds to Rindt’ Roebuck wrote. ‘Three laps to go, and the gap was 2.4, with Jochen now inspired. On lap 78 Jack ran his fastest lap, 1m 24.4s, but even this was useless, for the Lotus went round in 1m 23.3s.’

‘Still it seemed as though Brabham would hold on, but even on the last lap the fates conspired against him. At Tabac, before the long drag down to Gasworks, he came upon three backmarkers, lost more time, and probably it was this, more than anything else, that unsettled him when he came across Courage.’ In 1970 Piers raced Frank Williams’ De Tomaso 505 Ford, rather than the Brabham BT26 Ford he raced so well for Frank in 1969- he had been in and out of the pits with the recalcitrant car since the start of the race.

You can see Jack’s track down the inside of Piers’ De Tomaso and onto ‘all the shit and corruption’ off line (unattributed)

‘Into the final hairpin Jack went off line – into the marbles – to get by Piers, and when he put the brakes on, his car understeered straight on, thumping into the barrier, right at my feet.’

‘Rindt, meantime, flicked into the hairpin, looking across at the stricken Brabham, shaking his head in disbelief. Finally Jack got on his way again, and managed to cross the line without losing second place. When he stopped finally, he stayed in the cockpit a long time.’

ka-boomba but not fatally so- the marshall referred to by Jack has not appeared- yet! (unattributed)

Moments after the shot above with Jack furiously hitting the starter button, simultaneously, a marshall sought to push the stricken BT33 clear of he armco, into certain disqualification. As Jack released the clutch in reverse the marshall fell onto the Brabham’s nosecone- once the marshall decamped quickly from the car Jack headed for home and second place, crossing the line 23 seconds after the staggered Rindt.

What was I thinking?! The normally unflappable Brabham close to the finishing line (unattributed)

‘Once the course car had been round, I ran the length of the pit straight, arriving in the area of the Royal Box just as Jochen climbed the steps, shook hands with Rainier and Grace, and accepted the garland and the trophy. Trembling, and with tears rolling down his face, he looked like a man coming out of a trance, and probably he was. After the national anthems, the French commentator excitedly announced his time for the last lap: “Une minute vingt-trois secondes deux-dixiemes!” For the first 40 laps of the race, Rindt’s average lap time was 1m 27.0s; for the last 40 it was 1m 24.9s – a full second faster than his qualifying time…’ Roebuck wrote.

‘I can’t believe my luck!’ Rindt, Lotus 49D Ford (B Cahier)

After the Gala Ball at the Hotel de Paris, Jochen came down to the Tip-Top Bar, as drivers did in those days. At midnight he and Nina arrived, swinging the trophy between them. At the Tip-Top they used to run a book on the race, and Rindt wanted to know what had been the odds on him. “Seven to two,” someone said. “Ha!” Jochen grinned. “Was anyone stupid enough to bet on me?”

The Belgian GP at Spa saw ‘BT33-2′ qualify fifth but its intrepid pilot was sidelined first by an off at Malmedy induced by an oily rag in the cars footwell- and then after he passed Rindt and Stewart, by clutch failure on lap 19. That was the epic race made famous by an incredible high speed dice between the BRM P153 of Pedro Rodriguez and Chris Amon’s March 701- Pedro won by just over a second from Chris. To my mind the 701 is a much maligned machine if you look at the number of times those chassis’ were in winning positions that year.

John Miles Lotus 72B, Jochen’s 49C and Jack’s BT33 in the Spa pitlane (unattributed)

In testing at Zandvoort prior to the Dutch GP Jack suffered a sudden left-rear Goodyear deflation. The car ‘…entered a vicious slide, and the deflated tyre left the wheel-rim, which then hit the road. The car broadsided into the sand, the wheel-rim dug in and we flipped, rolling over and over into the wire catch-fencing in which it wrapped itself up, trapping me inside my cockpit, trussed up like the Christmas turkey. I might not (quite) have been stuffed, but I was terrified I might yet get roasted. Had any leaking fuel caught fire, there was no way I could have escaped’ Jack recalled in his memoir written with Doug Nye.

The BT33 came to rest inverted over a ditch, with Jack hanging from his seat belts. ‘Here I was in another test session – on a deserted circuit – out of sight of the pits, trapped in a crashed car. I really was getting too old for this. I’d have needed wire cutters to make my way out. I could smell petrol. My finger was poised (over the extinguisher button). At last I heard running feet and voices. Hands began to yank the wire away. I took that as my cue to twist my safety belt release – forgetting I was hanging by it – and dropped on my head, with my entire weight twisting my neck. The Dutch spectators then managed to raise one side sufficiently for me to wriggle out…I would have a stiff neck for a while’. The car was virtually undamaged, but after two more punctures during the GP itself the Brabham combination finished twice-lapped, He was eleventh in the awful event in which Piers Courage was burned to death in a most gruesome fashion.

The French GP at Clermont-Ferrand resulted in a win for Jochen on this glorious undulating road circuit, together with his joyless victory at Zandvoort he was well on the way to putting a championship winning season together. To further underline his speed Jack finished third and set fastest lap in France, BT33 was as fast on open road circuits as the twists and turns of stop-start Monaco.

By the July British GP Rindt had told Chapman of his intention to retire at the end of the season, that decision no doubt in part due to the deaths of his friends and colleagues Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage at Goodwood and Zandvoort respectively.

In fine weather Rindt took pole from Jack and Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B- this machine one of the other cars of 1970- the Lotus 72 Ford, Brabham BT33 Ford, Ferrari 312B and BRM P153 the four supreme machines of the year.

Lap 1, the grid exits Druids Hill on the run to Bottom Bend, Brands, British GP 1970. Amons March 701 in shot, from Q17- wonder what happened to him in practice? 5th place (GP Library)

Jack and Jacky got away best from the start with Ickx holding the lead from Brabham until differential failure outed the Ferrari at the start of lap 7 at Paddock Hill bend. At the same time Jochen lunged for the lead and got through Jack’s defences. Jochen didn’t get away from the BT33 though, the guys were close together throughout the race. Oliver’s BRM held 3rd until lap 55 when the big V12 cried enough promoting Denny Hulme’s McLaren M14 Ford to third.

Rindt and Brabham were this close for much of the race- a nice visual compare and contrast between the brand new edgy, wedgy 72 and brand new front-rad ‘old school’ BT33- both equally fast mind you (Getty)

Sex on wheels- 72 visually about as good as a GP car gets- current GP cars can trace their fundamental layout and looks back to this baby, or more particularly the ’68 Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney Indycar anyway. Rindt Brands 1970 (unattributed)

On lap 69 of 80 laps Rindt muffed a gear change and Jack was through into a lead he promised to keep until on the very last lap the car ran out of fuel on the run to the line- Brabham was able to coast home second with Denny third and Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B fourth.

 

Jack glides to the line DFV in silence, but still in 2nd place (Getty)

It was an incredibly lucky win for Jochen and proved to the world, yet again, that at 44 Black Jack- he of the permanent ‘five o’clock shadow’, still very much had his elite level racing mojo.

As Brabham coasted to a stop after finishing, Jack spotted Ron Dennis sprinting along behind him. ‘I thought I bet I know what’s happened, the silly bugger’s left the injection set to ‘Full Rich’ – the setting used to start the engine from cold’ – he shrugged off his belts and leapt out determined to check the setting first. ‘Sure enough, it was on ‘Full Rich’. For thirty years Sir Jack would blame Ron Dennis for the oversight, but at dinner with another team mechanic – Nick Goozee – in 2002, owned up: ‘That wasn’t Ron – it was me’.

Ron Tauranac, Ron Dennis, Nick Goozee? and Jack, Brands pits 1970 (B Cahier)

Rindt won again at Hockenheim and in a season of many different winners- Ickx, Rodriguez, Stewart, Regazzoni, Fittipaldi, Brabham and Jochen, had amassed enough points by the time of his death at Monza in September to win the drivers title posthumously from Jacky Ickx who had a serious shot to overtake Rindt’s points haul in the final three rounds but ‘karma prevailed’, the dominant driver in the fastest car of the year won- albeit he had a bit of luck. Just ask Jack!

‘Cor Jochen, we nicked another one off ‘ole Jack!’ Chapman, Nina and Jochen Rindt (Popperfoto)

One of the many fascinating things about motor racing are its ‘ifs, buts and maybes’- the greatest of 1970 was Rindt winning a World Title in a Brabham BT33 Ford and retiring at the seasons end, alive…

Brabham BT33 Ford cutaway by (Bill Bennett)

Brabham BT33 Etcetera…

Where is that DFV? Never a clearer expression of the structural role played by that particular engine than this one! Austrian GP weekend, Zeltweg (B Cahier)

Ron Tauranac preferred the lightweight, easily-repairable, highly-tuneable, multi-tubular spaceframe chassis construction into 1969, albeit his 1968-69 BT26 and BT26A designs were spaceframes with partially stress-skinned, sheet aluminium to augment the designs rigidity. Whilst the approach could be said to be ‘old school’ compared to the monocoque, the modern expression of which was the Lotus 25 which made its debut at Zandvoort in 1962- the BT26A Ford was one of the fastest cars of 1969 with Jacky Ickx winning at the Nurburgring and Mosport.

1970 revised Formula 1 regulations demanded greater protection for F1 car fuel tanks- bag tanks, which in effect dictated the adoption of fully stressed-skin monocoque construction. Tauranac first monocoque chassis was Brabham’s 1968/9 Indianapolis contender, the BT25 powered by the Repco ‘760 Series’ quad-cam, 32 valve 4.2 litre Lucas fuel injected V8.

Jack’s 1970 BT33 chassis under construction at MRD, Weylock, Weybridge, Surrey 8 January 1970. Technical comments as per text below (Getty)

Motor Racing Developments built three BT33 chassis during 1970- BT33-1 was the car raced by Rolf Stommelen until he damaged it in practice for the British GP. Rebuilt, it was raced by Graham Hill, Tim Schenken and Carlos Reutemann in 1971.

BT33-2 was Jack’s 1970 chassis.

BT33-3 was built after Rolf damaged his car too badly to race during the British Grand Prix meeting- used by him for the balance of 1970, it was raced very competitively in 1971 by Tim Schenken, and by Graham Hill and Wilson Fittipaldi in early 1972.

All of the BT33’s were sold by BRO after the end of their useful frontline racing lives.

The BT33 chassis is an aluminium ‘bathtub’ monocoque with strong bulkheads providing a structure of great strength and structural integrity. Front suspension (see photo above) is inboard by front rocker, lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. At the rear single top links, an inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and outboard coil spring/dampers are used. Adjustable sway bars were fitted front and rear. Steering is MRD rack and pinion, uprights cast magnesium front and rear.

At this stage of its development the 3 litre Ford Cosworth DFV V8 gave around 420 bhp @ 9500 rpm, the gearbox was a Hewkand 5 speed DG300. The engine, as you can see from the colour shot above is a stressed member- it is a part of the cars structure, it bolts to the rear chassis bulkhead.

Whilst far less exotic in its conception than the Lotus 72, Tauranac’s BT33 didn’t give an inch to Hethel’s finest. Jack got every ounce of performance available from that car but Rindt would have squeezed even a smidge more. Oh to have seen him in a Brabham that year…

Credits…

Popperfoto, Getty Images, LAT, Bernard Cahier, William Vanderson, Deviantart, Bill Bennett

Bibliography…

Automobile Year 18, MotorSport Magazine May 2013 article by Nigel Roebuck, ‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Doug Nye, oldracingcars.com

More 1970 Reading…

Brabham’s 1970 season; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

Lotus 72; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/08/flowers-mark-the-apex-jochen-rindt-lotus-72-ford-dutch-gp-1970/

Ferrari 312B; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/26/life-is-all-about-timing-chris-amon-and-the-ferrari-312b/

Matra MS120; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/06/venetia-day-and-the-1970-matra-ms120/

March 701; https://primotipo.com/2014/05/15/blue-cars-rock/

Spanish GP; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/14/spanish-barbecue-1970-gp-jarama/

Belgian GP; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/03/ferrari-312b-jacky-ickx-belgian-grand-prix-spa-1970/

The one that really did get away: Brabham, BT33 Brands 1970- leaping out to check the DFV’s fuel injection settings…

Finito…

 

(T Walker)

Jack Brabham attacks the Longford Viaduct in 1964, Brabham BT7A Climax…

His differential failed on lap 21 of the ‘South Pacific Trophy’, victory went to the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax driven by Graham Hill from Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 Climax.

I’ve accumulated a heap of photos of Jack Brabham, many of which are ‘human interest’ type shots taken in the paddock or at other important events. I’ve packaged them up in chronological order with some comments around the shot or the event, I hope you enjoy the selection.

(Fairfax)

Speedcar: Parramatta Speedway, Sydney 26 February 1954…

This photo is late in Jack’s speedway career, I’m not sure which chassis he is aboard above, he travelled to the UK in 1955 remember. In 1948 and 1949 he won the Australian Speedcar Championship in his #28 JAP 880 Midget.

In ’54 he was also racing his highly developed road racing Cooper T23 Bristol, contesting amongst many other events the ’54 AGP at Southport and the NZ GP at Ardmore. It was his showing in NZ which was one of the factors which convinced him to try  his hand in Europe.

Brabham’s first road racing competition was with his dirt midget, fitted with four- wheel brakes he won the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship in it at Rob Roy, in Melbourne’s outer east at Christmas Hills!

Cooper T43 Climax FPF: ‘Rochester Trophy’ Brands Hatch, 5 August 1957…

Jack and Geoff Brabham in the Brands paddock prior to this F2 race, he won both heats from two other Cooper T43’s of George Wicken and Ronnie Moore.

Jack looks so young- but he is already 31 and a veteran of nine years of competition, much of it on the dirt speedways of eastern Australia. Geoffrey is five- his racing car debut was in an Elfin 620 Formula Ford in 1972 or 1973, his first full season was aboard a Bowin P6F Formula Ford in 1974. Click here for an article on Geoff;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/31/geoff-and-jack-brabham-monza-1966/

That season Brabham also won F2 events at Brands in June, the London Trophy at Crystal Palace, the Prix de Paris at Monthlery and the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park. In Grands Prix he contested the Monaco, French, British and Pescara events driving 2 litre FPF powered T43’s, his best, sixth place at Monaco.

Bursting onto stage…

Quite literally, Jack motors into the Dorchester Hotel, London ballroom to be presented with a BRDC Gold Star in 1960. By then he had won two World Titles on the trot of course, in Cooper T51 and T53 Climax in 1959 and 1960 respectively.

Jack and Bruce, Sandown Park, 12 March 1962…

Two great buddies, Jack instrumental in Bruce going to Europe and in ploughing the same path Bruce took with his own cars, three years later.

Jack has just left Cooper’s and ran a private ex-works Cooper T55 Climax 2.7 FPF in the Australasian Internationals that summer. Bruce also ran a Cooper T53 Climax FPF 2.7, like Jack, his own equipe prepared and entered the car.

Jack won the ‘Sandown Park International’ on the Sunday with Bruce third behind John Surtees in another (Yeoman Credit) T53 FPF 2.7. It was the opening meeting of the Sandown circuit, built as it is within the confines of a horse-racing facility. Its still in use, long may it continue!

Which Cooper are they leaning on? Dunno.

There are quite a few shots and information on that meeting in this article I wrote about Chuck Daigh a while back. Click here for a peep;

https://primotipo.com/2016/01/27/chucks-t-bird/

(Getty)

 

Icy Pole…

There are quite a few shots of Jack cooling down and warding off dehydration with a medicinal treat! Here its aboard his Lotus 24 Climax during the 1962 Belgian GP weekend at Spa. He was sixth in the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 25.

He left Cooper at the end of ’61 and raced the Lotus until the new Brabham BT3 was ready- its first appearance was in the German GP in early August.

Click here for an article about Jacks experience with the Lotus and the first F1 Brabham BT3; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/06/brabhams-lotuses-and-first-gp-car-the-bt3-climax/

(K Drage)

Sandown Park paddock 1964, Brabham BT7A Climax…

This is the business end of the ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham shot in this articles first photograph at Longford.

Bruce won the first ’64 Tasman Series in the ‘very first McLaren’ his self built Cooper T70 Climax but Jack had a pretty good tour winning three of the races with Graham Hill picking up another in the David McKay owned BT4 as did Denny Hulme in his Motor Racing Developments BT4.

2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine and using a Hewland HD5 gearbox- this very successful model, the BT7A and its BT11A successor won many races in Australasia and South Africa.

‘Warwick Farm 100’ paddock 12-14 February 1965…

Long time BRO mechanic Roy Billington looks on as Jack makes final adjustments to the Repco built and maintained Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF engine.

Jack finished second in the 45 lap race behind Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax- Jim won the race, and three others to take the 1965 Tasman for Team Lotus. It was the start of an unbelievable year for the talented Scot who also won the F1 World Championship and Indy 500 in Lotus 33 Climax and Lotus 38 Ford respectively.

Repco obtained the rights to build CC engines in the early sixties- they did a nice trade supplying the locals and Internationals CC 2.5 bits, for many years the engine de jour of the category.

The Charlie Dean/Stan Jones fifties Maybach racing programs run out of Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick created the ‘Repco Racing Culture’ and a swag of gifted engineers, fitters and mechanics who went on to do great things within Repco- and outside it.

The short ‘Coventry Climax Phase’ under Frank Hallam’s leadership in Richmond was an important bridge to the ‘Repco Brabham Engines Phase’ at Repco in terms of men and Hallam’s assembly of the necessary equipment to build and maintain the engines. He bought tools, milling machines, lathes etc. Frank used his budgets wisely to both buy new clobber and refurbish older but far from inadequate machinery.

In essence, the Repco Board believed they had the capacity to build racing engines when Canny Jack pitched the RBE 2.5 litre, Oldmobile F85 based Tasman V8 engine to them in 1963/4.

So, lets not forget the role the maintenance and limited development of the oh-so-successful Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF played in Repco’s ultimate 1966-1979 success. Why 1979 you say? The final national championship won by an RBE V8 was Paul Gibson’s win in the 1979 Australian Tourist Trophy at Winton in a Rennmax Repco powered by a 5 litre ‘740 Series’ RBE V8.

Monaco 1966, Brabham BT19 Repco at rest…

Jack resting with a Coke whilst being offered some encouragement from a couple of supporters. He wasn’t well, feeling off-colour, in addition BT19 was late due to a waterside workers strike in the UK.

He had just taken the newish BT19 Repco ‘620 Series’ V8 combinations first win in the Silverstone ‘International Trophy’ a fortnight before so much was expected of the combination in the principality of dreams. In the event the car jammed in gear from a lowly starting position leaving Stewart to win in a BRM P261- a 1.5 litre F1 car with a 2 litre ‘Tasman’ V8 fitted.

Jack’s title winning run started at Reims in July. Click here for my feature on the ’66 season;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

OBE from HM The Queen…

Betty, Jack and Geoff Brabham having collected Jack’s Order of the British Empire from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1967. He was further honoured with a Knighthood, ‘Knight Bachelor’ in 1979.

Jack looks pretty schmick in tails but I imagine he could not get the ‘Topper’ off his head quick enough!

Victorious French Grand Prix, Le Mans 1967…

Jack won the race from Denny with Jackie Stewart third in an old BRM P261. I wrote an article about this meeting, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/02/03/le-mans-french-gp-1967-powerrrr/

It was the fifth event of the championship season and the first win for the reigning champion. Meanwhile Denny was racking up a more than handy pile of points- which would win him the title from Jack and Jim Clark’s new Lotus 49 Ford DFV.

Ain’t she sweet! Ron Tauranac’s ’67 Brabham BT24 was one of his nicest, most cohesive, balanced GeePee designs. It had just enough of everything to do the trick and no more.

Note the characteristic duct to take cooling air within the Vee to keep stuff cool down there, not least the Lucas fuel metering unit. Duct used in the warmer ’67 races.

Mixing With The Big Shots, Melbourne Reception 1967…

Jack with Sir Charles McGrath, long time CEO and later Chairman of Repco Ltd and longtime Premier of Victoria Sir Henry Bolte to honour the achievements of both Brabham and Repco in 1966.

Jack’s suit lapel contains Repco and Goodyear pins reflecting the enormous contribution made by those companies to that success. Jack was a Goodyear early adopter and reaped all the benefits, in no small measure due to his ongoing testing feedback about the product.

McGrath was a Brabham believer, without his ongoing support there would have been no engines. At the time Repco Ltd were an Australian Stock Exchange Top 100 listed company, ‘Dave’ McGrath oversaw the exponential growth of Repco both within Australia and overseas from the time he was appointed Managing Director in 1953. He strode the local corporate scene like a colossus as a Director of Repco and other companies. Click here for his biography;

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcgrath-sir-charles-gullan-dave-15173

Gelato @ Monza ’67: ‘Streamliner’ Brabham BT24 Repco…

Proof positive he likes his icecream!

However light Ron Tauranac’s BT24 chassis was, the Repco ’67 ‘RB740’ V8 was still only good for 330 or so neddies compared with the 400’ish of the quad-cam 32 valve, new Ford Cosworth DFV. This aero experiment was successful in making the car slip through the air better but Jack had difficulty placing the car accurately through the complex, compound curvature of the screen so the project was abandoned. A works BT23 F2 car was also tested in similar manner.

This was the famous race in which Jack lost out on a last lap, last corner, braking manoeuvre with John Surtees Honda RA301 V12- losing out to finish second with Denny again behind in third. The big, beefy ‘Hondola’ had heaps more power than the Aussie V8 but equally as much bulk- the ‘pork chops’ of the era were the Hondas and BRM P83 H16. The leading ‘lithe and nimbles’ were the BT24 and Lotus 49.

Click here for an article on the ’67 Brabham BT24 including a ‘compare and contrast’ with the Lotus 49 Ford DFV;

https://primotipo.com/2017/12/28/give-us-a-cuddle-sweetie/

Biggles Brabham at Bankstown, Sydney…

Brabham was a leading light of the fifties and sixties racer/pilots wasn’t he? Chapman, Hill, Clark and Reventlow all spring to mind. But there were plenty of others.

Here Jack has just arrived from the UK to Bankstown, Sydney on 11 February 1968.

That year he did a truncated two race Tasman in a beautiful Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740 Series’ V8. It was another lightweight purpose built Tasman jigger built on Tauranac’s F2 BT23 jig that could have nicked the title had he raced at all of the rounds. Mind you Jack would have had to knock over the two Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s of Clark and Hill to do so. Clark was on tip-top form winning the championship with four victories.

I wrote an article about the BT23E, click here for it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

Michael Gasking in the light grey, Jack and the rest of the Repco crew, ‘830 Series’ 2.5 litre SOHC V8. That is an old helmet he is wearing!, it musta been lying around in the Repco Maidstone workshop. A Bell Magnum it ain’t! (M Gasking)

The Lowest Mileage Works Brabham: BT31 Repco…

Jack testing his 1969 Tasman mount, his just assembled BT31, in the late afternoon at Calder the day before it’s race debut at Sandown for the final Tasman round. Chris Amon won the race and the series that year in his works Ferrari Dino 246T V6.

My mate, Repco’s Rodway Wolfe helped Jack assemble BT31 that February day. Years later he owned the car, read his definitive story of this two races in period only, works Brabham!

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/26/rodways-repco-recollections-brabham-bt31-repco-jacks-69-tasman-car-episode-4/

Tribute to Brabham Meeting, Brands Hatch, November 1970…

Brabham accepts the plaudits of the crowd after the last ‘drive in anger’ of his BT33, seven demonstration laps, it was his farewell appearance in the ‘Salute To Brabham Meeting’, behind him is Ron Tauranac his business partner and designer of their cars.

Many of this crowd of 8000 will have seen Jack lose the British GP at Brands only months before due to too little fuel in the car- the cars Lucas fuel injection was left on its starting ‘rich’ setting before the off by mechanic Nick Goozee. The details of the BT33 are here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/24/jochens-bt33-trumped-by-chunkys-72/

Tailpiece: Suss the atmospherics of this Sandown Tasman shot 1965…

(R Lambert)

Whenever I see this fence I think of the number of times I jumped over it as a youngster. Not right there mind you, that spot was way too public. Clark’s victorious Lotus 32B Climax FPF is at left- he won five of the seven Tasman rounds and Jack’s Sandown winning Brabham BT11A is being fettled by Roy Billington and the chief himself. The senior advisor, Gary Brabham is just short of 5 years old i think. Check out the ‘Sandown muffler’ on JB’s car.

And the crowd takes it all in.

The original Sandown paddock did get a bit squeezy but boy it was a wonderful place to look at cars, drivers and the racing from the pit counter. Them was the days my friends…

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, F2 Index

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Fairfax Media, Kevin Drage, Michael Gasking, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ron Lambert Collection

Endpiece: JB, Jack Brabham Ford, Bankstown, Sydney 11 March 1971…

Jack retired from F1 and racing, sort of, he actually won a Formula Ford Race Of Champions in a Bowin P4X in 1971, at the end of 1970. Then there was his touring car ‘Dame Nellie Melba’ return in Taxis in the mid-seventies.

He sold his interest’s in Brabham Racing Organisation and Motor Racing Developments to Ron Tauranac and returned to Australia, at that stage having essentially an aviation business, Jack Brabham Ford on the Hume Highway at Bankstown and a farm at Wagga Wagga, 450 Km from Sydney, where he hoped to keep his sons well way from motor racing!

I’m such a sad little unit I can identify that tyre as a G800 Goodyear, not a bad radial in 1971 when this shot was taken. Jack was a ‘Goodyear Man’, I suspect this is some sort of promotion for the tyre and or the Ford Falcon XY behind the great one. Jack Brabham Ford offered a range of ‘tricked up’ Fords.

I wrote an article about Jack’s 1969/70 and retirement returns, click here;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

Finito…

stewart spain

(unattributed)

Jackie Stewart passes the burning molten alloy remains of Jackie Oliver’s BRM P153 and Jacky Ickx’ Ferrari 312B, fortunately both drivers escaped with only minor injuries, burns in Ickx’ case, lucky, it could have been much worse…

On lap 1 of the 90 lap 19 April 1970 event Oliver had a suspension failure at the Ciudalcampo, Jarama, Madrid circuit, ploughing into Ickx and puncturing his fuel tank.

The other P153 BRM of Pedro Rodriguez was withdrawn as a precautionary measure, Ollie reported stub axle failure as the accident’s cause.

ickx ablaze

#2 Ickx Ferrari 312B and Oliver’s white BRM P153, inside an inferno. ‘Bag type’ safety bladder fuel tanks mandated from the start of the 1970 season. The FIA at this time, pretty much year by year changed the regulations to improve safety around fuel tanks; safety foam around tanks in ’72, crushable structures around tanks in ’73, selfseal breakaway tank/hose coupling in ’74. (unattributed)

conflagration

The full horror of the situation confronting the two drivers; Oliver has punched the release on his Willans 6 point harness and is jumping out of the BRM, Ickx is in the process of popping his Britax Ferrari belts…Johnny Servoz-Gavin’s Tyrrell March 701 Ford 5th passes. (unattributed)

ickx

Ickx disoriented and on fire in search of a marshall (Automobile Year 18)

ickx running

A soldier beckons in Jacky’s direction. (Automobile Year 18)

ickx on the ground

The soldier, not a marshall puts Ickx’ overalls fire out. At this stage foam is being sprayed on the car fire but the foam extinguishers were soon emptied leaving water only, the impact on the molten magnesium componentry was to make the fire worse. (Automobile Year 18)

Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT33 Ford was on pole, reinforcing the speed of Ron Tauranac’s first monocoque GP contender, but Jackie Stewart won the race in one of his least favourite cars, the March 701 Ford.

The accident happened at the 2nd corner, the ‘Esses Bugatti’, a stub axle failed and Oliver’s BRM rammed Ickx’ Ferrari puncturing its fuel tanks and releasing 45 gallons of avgas, a similar amount aboard the BRM. Oliver got out quickly, Ickx finally emerged with his overalls on fire, the flames put out by a soldier, Ickx suffering as a result of keeping on his fuel soaked overalls.

‘The accident created race havoc, not only the visibility being dangerously reduced for drivers…but the flaming petrol constituted another hazard. The fire-fighting was abysmal, vast quantities of water being hosed on the flames for a long time-a procedure which caused the magnesium elements to ‘gas’ and flare up time and time again. The BRM was still burning at the end of the race, but miraculously no-one was hurt’ the Automobile Year report of the race said.

Stewart didn’t have the race to himself; he initially pulled away from Brabham and Hulme, electronic dramas causing the Kiwi’s demise. Despite spinning twice Jack chased Stewart and Pescarolo, taking second when the Frenchmans Matra V12 seized, he was 5 seconds behind JYS. Only a few metres separated them when Brabham’s Ford Cosworth failed, allowing Jackie to ease off to take victory.

Bruce McLaren was 2nd, McLaren M14A and Mario Andretti in another privately entered March 701, 3rd.

jack spin spain

The 1970 speed of BT33 was reinforced by Jack’s pole. He won the season opening South African GP. Here spinning on the ‘extinguisher foam rink’. He spun twice but despite that was right on Stewart’s tail when his engine blew. Jarama 1970. (unattributed)

Jarama 1970 was also notable for the race debut of Chapman’s latest design the Lotus 72. Jochen Rindt qualified his 8th, John Miles in the sister car did not make the cut. Rindt was out of the race on lap 8 with ignition failure.

It would take intensive development by Colin Chapman and his team to make the car competitive, the cars monocoques had to be ‘unpicked’ to make the suspension changes to eliminate a lot of the anti-dive/squat geometry and many other modifications but by June they had a winning car; victorious for Rindt in the sad Dutch Grand Prix, unfortunately the fire on that day had far more serious, fatal consequences for Piers Courage and his De Tomaso 505 Ford.

The sad reality of days like Jarama and Zandvoort in 1970, look how ill equipped in terms of fire protective clothing the marshalls are in the photos above, was the acceptance that safety standards in every respect; circuits, car construction and race support services had to improve to societal levels of acceptability. Thankfully we are on a different level in every respect today…

rindt spain

Rindt, Lotus 72 Ford, Jarama 1970. Look at the suspension travel on that early 72! (unattributed)

jochen

Jochen and Colin making a long joblist during Spanish GP practice. The car which won at the Dutch GP in June was a 72C which shows how much change there was in 2 short months. ‘Sol’ pitboard is Alex Soler-Roig who failed to qualify a Lotus 49C. (unattributed)

surtees

John Surtees ran as high as 3rd in his ex-works McLaren M7C Ford but faded and then retired with gearbox problems. Back at base his team were building John’s first F1 car the ‘TS7’ which made its debut at the British GP in July. (The Cahier Archive)

piers courage

Piers Courage during Jarama practice 1970. His Frank Williams De Tomaso 505 Ford non-started after a practice accident. (The Cahier Archive)

Tailpiece: Stewart’s winning March 701 passes the conflagration…

stewart spain 2

(The Cahier Archive)

Credits…

Automobile Year 18, The Cahier Archive

 

jack monaco

Jack Brabham starts the plunge from the Casino Square to Mirabeau in his factory Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ during the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix…

Brabham was joined at ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ by Dan Gurney in 1963, the lanky Californian left Porsche at the end of their F1 program. In 1962 BRO ran a car for Jack only in the teams first F1 season.

For 1963 both were driving the latest Brabham BT7’s powered by short stroke, fuel injected Coventry Climax V8’s. In first Monaco practice Jack’s Climax munched a valve, Jack flew the engine back to the UK in his Cessna to have it rebuilt it in time for Sundays race. The F1 racer of 1963 was a DIY kinda guy, if his name was Brabham anyway!

gurney

Dan Gurney’s brand new Brabham BT7 Climax, Monaco 1963, he was mighty fast if lacking in reliability and luck in that car that year! Famously the driver Clark came to respect the most. (unattributed)

In final practice Gurney lost the head off a valve, as had Trintignants Lotus 24, Roy Billington gave Jack the sad news when The Guvnor returned with his rebuilt FWMV from Coventry.

Brabham decided to start Gurney and withdraw from the race. The following morning having heard of Jack’s predicament Colin Chapman sportingly offered Jack a drive in the Team Lotus spare, ‘R3’ fitted with last years Weber carb Coventry Climax V8. Clark did a 1:35:2 in this car ‘just for fun’ only 9/10 of a second slower than his pole time in his race chassis towards the end of qualifying.

Chapman knew Jack was well familiar with the handling characteristics of the car as Jack acquired a Lotus 24 in early 1962, the spaceframe variant of the epochal, monocoque 25 whilst Ron Tauranac completed the build of Jacks 1962 and first GP contender, the Brabham BT3.

And so it was that Jack had the opportunity to drive a car he had wondered a lot about since driving his own Lotus 24 Climax for much of 1962. ‘That was a great gesture by Colin and i was delighted not to miss the race, but i can’t say i liked his car. If i thought my tube chassis Lotus 24 had been cramped, this Lotus 25 redefined the term. Its German ZF gearbox had a weird ‘upside down’ change pattern, and whilst i thought Dans feet were big, Jimmy’s must have been microscopic! The 25 seemed to have terrific traction and cornered well, but the gearbox got stuck in 5th twice and i had to stop to have it fixed and finished way back’ said Jack in Doug Nye’s biography of him. Click here for an article on this race and the Lotus 25;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/03/lotus-25-jim-clark-monaco-1963/

monaco 1963

’63 Monaco GP lap 1, the field led by Hill’s BRM P57 1st and Clark’s Lotus 25 cl 8th exiting the Station Hairpin. Next is Ginthers BRM P57 2nd, Surtees’ Ferrari T56 4th, #7 is a flash of McLaren’s Cooper T66 Climax 3rd, #4 Gurney’s Brabham BT7 Climax DNF ‘box and the rest. (unattributed)

MRD, BRO and the 1962 Season…

Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac formed ‘MRD’ Motor Racing Developments Ltd to build racing cars in 1961, their first car, the FJ MRD was raced by Aussie Gavin Youl that year.

The main games were both production racing cars and F1, ‘Motor Racing Developments’ jointly owned by Brabham and Tauranac built the cars and ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ owned by Jack (at that stage) ran the F1 program; prepared and entered the cars and contracted commercial agreements to fund the program.

sandown

Brabham being pushed to the Sandown grid, March 1962. Brabham sold this Cooper T55 to John Youl who raced it very successfully over the next couple of years the car continually developed by engineer Geoff Smedley including fitment of a twin-plug 2.5 FPF built by Smedley, an interesting story in itself. (autopics.com.au)

Jack raced in the International Series of races in the Australasian summer in early 1962 in a Cooper T55 under his own ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ banner.

The car was his factory Cooper 1961 F1 chassis ‘F1-10-61’ the little 1.5 litre FPF used in GP events replaced by its big FPF brother, an ‘Indy’ 2.7 for the Antipodean F Libre races. He won at Levin in NZ and Lakeside Queensland, i reckon his last Cooper win was his victory in the ‘Sandown Park International’ on 12 March 1962 from Surtees and McLaren both Cooper T53 mounted.

jack caversham

Jack Brabham in his F1 BT3 derived BT4 ‘Intercontinental’ Formula Brabham powered by a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre FPF ‘Indy’ engine. BT4 used smaller tanks than BT3 and 15 inch wheels all round. Australian national F1 was F Libre at this time. AGP, Caversham, WA, November 1962. Bruce Mclaren won the race in a Cooper T62 Climax, Jack collided with another competitor. (Milton McCutcheon)

By the end of the year he was racing his own BT4, 2.7 FPF powered in the Australian Grand Prix at Caversham WA in November.

But first there was a season of Grand Prix racing to contest, BT3 wouldn’t be ready until mid year as the customer FJ program had priority; MRD built 11 BT2 FJ’s, BT3 and 3 BT4’s in 1962, not bad for a new concern!

‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ needed a car for Jack to race in both championship and non championship 1962 events in the interim.

Colin Chapman was more than happy to oblige, selling Jack Lotus 21 chassis ‘936’ and 24 ‘947’ to enable the Aussie to chase the prizemoney and championship points on offer.

The 21 was the factory 1961 F1 design, a beautiful chassis only let down by the lack of a suitable, modern engine, the old 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF even in updated Mk2 form was too long in the tooth to keep up with the Ferrari Dino V6’s in 1961. Mind you, the brilliance of Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 took two wins at Monaco and the Nurburgring and Innes Ireland one in his factory 21 at the season ending Watkins Glen round.

Chapman updated the Lotus 21 design into the 24 for 1962, adapting the chassis to take the new 1.5 litre V8 Coventry Climax FWMV engine and the suspension of his ‘experimental’ masterstroke, the Lotus 25, the first modern, monocoque single seater from which all such racing cars right through to the present owe their parental lineage.

24 chassis

Lotus 24 cutaway drawing. Multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rear suspension by reversed lower wishbone, single top link and 2 radius rods for lateral location, coil spring/damper units. Girling disc brakes. Wheelbase 91 inches, front track 51 1/2 and rear 51 3/4 inches. Weight 1036 lb dry. Fuel tank capacity 27 gallons. Engines Coventry Climax V8 or BRM V8, gear boxes 5 speed ZF or 5/6 speed Colotti Francis. A good Coventry Climax FWMV V8 developed around 181bhp@8200rpm in 1962. (unattributed)

Mind you, the customers of the 24 thought they were buying Cols latest design…

As is well known, the conceptual inspiration for the Lotus 25 was Chapman’s Elan road car and it’s backbone chassis; why not widen the ‘backbone’ to accommodate the driver, pop the fuel into the structure so created either side of him and get enhanced torsional rigidity for less weight, the primary objectives of the exercise?

Chapman sketched his ideas, the 25 was drawn by draftsman Alan Styman, the prototype ‘R1’ put together in the early months of 1962 in a partitioned part of Team Lotus workshop at Cheshunt by mechanics Dick Scammell and Ted Woodley working with Mike Costin, Lotus Engineering Director (and shortly the ‘Cos’ of Cosworth) and Chapman himself . Doug Nye; ‘Chapman suspected the concept might not work out, but would in fact revolutionise racing car design’

The 1961 Lotus 21 chassis frames torsional stiffness was only 700lb/ft per degree of deflection, the 24 frame was 10 pounds lighter bare weight (before brackets and aluminium fuel tanks) and had similar rigidity to the 21. The 25 weighed in at 65 pounds bare, ‘yet offered 1000 lb/ft per degree rigidity rising to what was at that time a staggering 2400 lb/ft per degree when the new Coventry Climax V8 was installed in its rear bay’ said Nye.

clrak tub

Clark all snuggled into his brand new Lotus 25 ‘R1’, Belgian GP 1962. Monocoque structure by rivetted D Shaped light alloy longerons with fabricated steel bulkheads to support suspension, steering and engine. Suspension, wheelbase and track as per Lotus 24. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 and ZF 5 speed ‘box. Fuel capacity 32 gallons. Weight 990lb dry. (Yves Debraine)

Chapman justified the new type 24 customer design as against offering them the 25 saying ‘just in case the monocoque idea didn’t work out’. Many customers had ordered 24’s unsuspecting the works was going to be running something quite different and superior. From Chapman’s perspective it was simple; he could build and sell plenty of 24’s then, off the back of the speed of the 21 in 1961, the 25 was unproven and it would take months to fulfil the orders even if he could talk his customers into embracing what was a new concept. Better to ‘take the bird in hand’, Lotus Components could build the 24’s quickly allowing Chapman to focus on the new 25 and deal with the flack later!

Lotus 24 customers in 1962 included UDT Laystall 4 chassis, Rob Walker 2 chassis, Wolfgang Seidel, Team Lotus themselves and Brabham.

maurice

Maurice Trintignant in one of Rob Walkers Lotus 24 during the 1962 French GP. He was 7th and highest placed Lotus in the race won by Dan Gurney’s Porsche 804. (unattributed)

It’s interesting to reflect on Jack’s thoughts when the 25 was announced but he probably had more than a sneaking admiration for Chapmans ‘guile’, Jack and Chapman both ‘wheeler-dealers’ par excellence, one needed to get up pretty early in the day to get the better of them; if anyone ever did!

In any event, Jack was a racer, he needed to work with what he had knowing the BT3 was coming along later in the season and in any event the 25 might not work.

Jack’s 21 ‘936’ was first tested at Goodwood ‘I found one needed a shoehorn to fit into it-Colin Chapman seemed to build cars for midgets. But its ride was softer than any Cooper, its steering lighter and its handling good’ said Jack.

Only a few days later the car was destroyed in a workshop fire at the Repco facility in Surbiton where Tim Wall was preparing the car. Whilst fitting the battery a spanner shorted against one of the fuel tanks, making a small hole which then gushed burning fuel! Brabham and Wall ran out of fire extinguishers trying to control the fire and the fire brigade were unable to save the uninsured 21.

Chapman lent Jack the parts to build up another car which was ‘flung together’ in time for the Pau GP on 23 April. Jack qualified well in 4th but the car ran its bearings on lap 4.

The team rushed to make the ‘Aintree 200’, the following weekend but they missed practice, the car stripped its gears in the race which was won by Clark’s Lotus 24. Chapman and Clark let Jack drive the 24 for the first time in practice ‘Again i found it as tight as a sardine can’ quipped Brabham. Tight but fast!

By early May Jack’s 24 was ready, Roy Billington and Jacks team worked feverishly on the car to finish it at Lotus in Cheshunt in time for the ‘BRDC International Trophy’ at Silverstone on May 12. He was 13th on the grid and  finished 6th, the race won by Hill’s BRM P578. It was a good result, final chassis set-up was done by guesswork/the eye and the tacho drive failed.

dutch gp 1962

Brabham raced his Lotus 24 competitively in Holland before running into the spinning Rodriguez Ferrari 156. Q4, DNF on lap 4 upon Clark’s debut of the Lotus 25. (unattributed)

On 20 May the Lotus 25 made its race debut in Jim Clark’s hands at Zandvoort, Holland. The racing world drooled over ‘R1’ which Clark qualified 2nd and lead the race until clutch problems intervened.

clark zandvoort 25

Jim Clark debuts one of the most influential GP cars of all time; Lotus 25 Climax chassis ‘R1’ Zandvoort 1962. (unattributed)

24’s were entered for Trevor Taylor, Innes Ireland and Jack, the competitiveness of the chassis shown by Taylor’s 2nd place, Jack qualified very well 4th, but was punted out of the race by Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156. The Mexican spun across his path as Jack lined him up for a fast downhill pass. The race was won by Hills BRM P57.

jack monaco

Jack blasts up Beau Rivage, Ste Devote in the background, Monaco 1962. Behind his Lotus 24 is Clark’s Lotus 25. Jim Q1 DNF with clutch dramas, Jack classified 8th. In the distance is one of the Ferrari 156’s. (unattributed)

At Monte Carlo Jack had ‘947’ flying, he qualified 6th and raced in 3rd until until a prang forced his withdrawal. He was classified 8th and quipped ‘I had a wishbone break-after i hit the barricade’ avoiding Phil Hill’s spun Ferrari 156 in Casino Square. Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T60 Climax.

brabham 24 monaco

Brabham Lotus 24 Climax ‘947’ Monaco 1962. (unattributed)

Back in the UK a week later for the ‘International 200 Guineas’ at Mallory Park on June 11 he finished 2nd from 3rd on the grid and continued to get good experience of the new Climax V8 in the 24. Surtees was victorious in his Lola Mk4 Climax.

 

2000

Brabham, Lotus 24, ‘2000 Guineas’ Mallory Park. June 1962. (unattributed)

A week later at Spa on 17 June he qualified 15th having arrived late and had little practice but raced well finishing 6th. Clark took his and the 25’s first championship win.

There the handling of the Lotus ‘was simply evil-demanding the full road width at 150mph…the boys straightened out the bent chassis (damaged in the Monaco prang) in time for Reims’.

innes

Innes Ireland’s BRP/UDT Laystall Lotus 24 Climax being loaded at the 1962 French GP at Rouen. Innes Q8 DNF puncture on lap 1. Fine carefully faired rump on display, as is the rear suspension, typical layout of the day described in the text earlier. (unattributed)

At Reims for the non-championship GP he was 4th from grid 5 on 1 July, McLaren again winning in a T60 Cooper. Jack enjoyed a long high speed slip-streaming dice with Bruce and Graham Hill’s BRM and in the process forgot to switch to the reserve fuel tank late in the race.

Then a week later Jack contested the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les Essarts qualifying 4th but failed to finish with a suspension breakage, a rear shocker mount had broken. Dan Gurney took a popular win in the Porsche 804 from Tony Maggs Cooper T60, a wonderful result for the young South African. Hill and Clark both had troubles.

jack aintree

Brabham firing up the Coventry Climax FMWV 1.5 litre V8 engine of his Brabham Racing Organisation Lotus 24 under the watchful eye of chief mechanic Roy Billington, Aintree, British GP paddock 1962. This shot shows the svelte lines of the car to good effect. (unattributed)

Back home for the British GP, that year held at Liverpool’s Aintree on 21 July he qualified 9th and raced to 5th. The new BT3 was nearly completed only difficulties finishing the complex ‘crossover’ exhaust system required by the early series Climax engines prevented its debut.

aintree 2

Brabham, Aintree British GP 1962. Lotus 24 Climax. (unattributed)

The BT3 ‘F1-1-62’ was completed the week after Aintree and run briefly at Goodwood before Coventry Climax dramas intervened…

The engine out of the 24 was slotted in and then tested at Brands ‘here at last was a modern F1 car into which i actually fitted. Its cockpit wasn’t too hot and most critically it handled beautifully. Ron really knew his stuff’ said Jack.

brands

Brands BT3 test in late July at Brands Hatch. Tauranac at left, Harry Speirs of Climax fettling the engine and Jack. (Jack Brabham Story)

The BT3 was taken straight to the Nurburgring for its GP debut.

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Brabham awaits the start of the very sodden German GP, the Nurburgring awash. He looks calm but it had been a fraught practice with the new car, the Climax V8 ran a bearing. (unattributed)

On the 5th of August BT3 finally made its GP debut at the Nurburgring, Jack was taking the new car gently but it still ran the bearings in his Climax engine.

The team built an engine from the bottom end of a Team Lotus unit and top end of the one in BT3, which was rough but allowed him to qualify. Jack’s spare was flown in that night to Cologne and fitted in the morning.

He qualified 24th but failed to finish with a throttle linkage which had been lashed up with extra springs to ensure it would close safely, throttle balance in the corners a real challenge, so he retired. This thrilling race in awful wet conditions, watched by over 350000 fans was won by Graham Hill, a supreme drive in his BRM P57 by 2.5 seconds from Surtees’ Lola Mk4 Climax and Gurney’s Porsche 804.

bt3 cutaway

Brabham BT3 cutaway. Muti-tubular spaceframe chassis. Front suspension by unequal length upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Rear by reversed top wishbones, wide based lower wishbones coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Girling disc brakes. Fuel capacity 26 gallons. Wheelbase, as for the Lotus 24 and 25 was 91 inches. Front track 52 and rear track 50 1/2 inches. Weight 1045 lb dry. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 circa 180bhp@8600rpm, 6 speed Colotti-Francis gearbox. (unattributed)

brabham bt3 germany

Brabham’s first GP car, the BT3 Climax makes its debut at the Nurburgring 1963. (unattributed)

Whilst testing of BT3 continued Jack raced the Lotus 24 ‘947’ one last time in the 3rd Danish GP at Roskildering on 25 August winning all 3 heats in a real carve-up with Masten Gregory in a similar Lotus 24, and the event as a consequence.

jack portrait

Nice portrait of Brabham in his Lotus 24 Climax in the Aintree paddock 1962. Cars behind are the Lola Mk4 Climaxes of John Surtees and Roy Salvadori. (unattributed)

Back in the UK Jack contested the ‘9th Gold Cup’ at Oulton Park on 1 September, Clark won the race in his Lotus 25, he seemed to have more luck in the non-championship than title rounds in 1962, Jack was 3rd in BT3 having qualified 5th. The race was held over a full GP distance so provided valuable mileage for the new car.

A critical learning was that the brake pads had worn after only 40 laps of a total of 73, the discs were increased in size from 9 to 10.5 inches and spring rates stiffened, the body was also ‘tidied up’ post Oulton.

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Brabhams BT3, Oulton Park ‘Gold Cup’ September 1962. (unattributed)

Jack elected to miss the Italian Grand Prix on September 16 in order to better prepare for the ‘away races’ at the end of the season; the non-championship Mexican GP and final championship rounds at Watkins Glen and Kyalami. Graham Hill won at Monza from teammate Richie Ginthers BRM P57, Clark started from pole but this time gearbox dramas caused a lap 12 DNF.

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Brabham BT3, US GP. (George Phillips)

The US Grand Prix was held at Watkins Glen on October 7, Clark won the race from Hill and in so doing kept his championship hopes alive, the title was decided in the final round in South Africa.

Jack had a competitive run finishing 4th, having a big dice with Gurney and McLaren, despite his Colotti box jumping out of gear and qualifying 5th, the ‘Automobile Year’ report stating Jack ‘created a sensation in qualifying’ with what was still a new car.

The non-championship Mexican Grand Prix was contested by many of the GP teams on 4 November as it was close to the US Grand Prix in both time and proximity. The event was a tragic one; Ferrari had not entered but local star Ricardo Rodriguez, a Ferrari driver that year was keen to strut his stuff in front of his home crowd at the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit at Mexico City.

He approached Rob Walker who entered the 20 year old in his Lotus 24 Climax.

Jack’s Lotus 24 ‘947’ was lent to John Surtees for this race and was a ‘bit player’ in the sequence of events which lead to Ricardos death.

Rodriguez had fastest time, which Surtees then pipped in ‘947’. Rodriguez kissed his father on the hand from the cockpit of the Lotus and went out to attempt to retake pole to keep the faith with the thousands of his countrymen who had turned up to see him.

ricardo

Poignant and sad shot. Ricardo Rodriguez kisses his fathers hand, youngest brother Alejandro looks on and drives the Rob Walker owned Lotus 24 Climax to his death. Mexico 1962. (unattributed)

The poor driver had a massive, fatal accident on the dauntingly fast Peraltada corner.

Some reports say their was a right rear suspension failure on the Lotus, others that he was simply going too fast in a car he wasn’t familiar with. Innes Ireland’s account in his autobiography of the differences in handling of the Lotus 24 and Ferrari 156, he raced both in 1962, is that they were considerably different. Its possible given his limited time in the Lotus that Rodriguez made an error as a result of the differences in handling characteristics of the different chassis’. Whatever the case the young driver was dead.

Clark and Trevor Taylor shared the winning Lotus 25 from Jack’s BT3 and Ireland’s Lotus 24.

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Jacks BT3 2nd leads good mate Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T60 Climax DNF engine in the 1962 Mexican GP. 4 November. (Dave Friedman Collection)

John Surtees, in Jack’s Lotus 24 qualified 4th in front of Jack in 7th but had ignition failure in the race and failed to complete a lap. ‘947 was then sold to Syd van der Vyver in South Africa. It was subsequently destroyed in a workshop fire there, it and Jack’s Lotus 21 ‘936’ have been ‘reconstructed/rebuilt/rebirthed’ and run in Historic Events to this day.

At Kyalami on December 29 Jack had another competitive points winning run again finishing 4th, despite a gearbox jumping out of 3rd and 4th gears. Jack experimented with the first Hewland gearbox in BT7 in 1963 and in so doing ended the gearbox unreliability for the non-BRM British teams of the era, Mike Hewland’s transmissions amazingly robust.

All of the South African GP drama was centred on the battle for the championship between rivals and friends, Clark and Hill.

Clark led from pole and had the race ‘in the bag’ but as was so often the case in 1962, whilst the Lotus 25 was easily the fastest car it was not the most reliable. Races were lost due to engine, gearbox, clutch and other component failures, and so it was that Jim retired on lap 61 of the 82 lap event with an engine losing oil, a liquid which cannot be replenished during a race.

Hill took a popular race and drivers championship win, and BRM’s only one as a manufacturer.

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Brabham races to victory in BT3, the first GP win for Brabham as a marque, at Solitude, Stuttgart 28 July 1963.  (unattributed)

BT3 raced on into 1963 and GP Success…

Ron Tauranac developed a new car for 1963, the BT7 which was a lighter and cleaned-up BT3, Gurneys car 2 inches longer in the wheelbase than Jack’s in an effort to keep the lanky Californian comfier than Jack had been in Chapman’s Lotus 24!

Jacks BT7 was not ready until later in the season, he ran BT3 at Monaco before the Climax engine failure, racing the Team Lotus 25 and at Spa before using BT7 in the championship events from the Dutch GP in June.

Fittingly BT3 won Brabham’s first GP as a manufacturer when Jack won the Solitude GP, near Stuttgart, Germany on 28 July 1963 from Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 25 and Innes Ireland’s BRP BRM. The circuit was majestic, 7.1 miles long with many fast corners through pine forests with average speeds of over 105 mph, it was a fitting place to take such a win.

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Solitude GP 1963. Brabham’s #1 BT3 1st from #30 Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T60 Climax 9th, #16 Trevor Taylor’s Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ DNF, the car Jack drove at Monaco that May, the red nosed Lola T4A Climax of Chris Amon DNF #2 Innes Ireland BRP BRM 3rd, #17 Peter Arundell’s Lotus 25 Climax and the red Lotus 24 BRM of Jo Siffert DNF. (Michael Turner)

solitude article

‘Autosport’ 1963 Solitude GP report

Solitude was truly an amazing feat for a newish marque. Jack famously became the first man to win a championship GP in  a car of his own name and manufacture at the French GP in 1966, when BT19 Repco took the chequered flag.

BT3 was also used by Jack to win the Austrian GP at Zeltweg on 1 September from Tony Settember’s Scirocco BRM and Carel de Beaufort’s Porsche. Raced by Denny Hulme to 3rd in the Kanonloppet at Karlskoga, Sweden behind Clark and Taylor’s Lotus 25’s on 1 August, BT3 was retained as BRO spare car for the balance of 1963.

Sold to Ian Raby for the 1964 season and a life in British Hillclimbing after that before being restored by Tom Wheatcroft in 1971 and an exhibit of his fantastic Donington Museum. In more recent times BT3 has been sold and is ‘historic raced’ which seems fitting for a car so significant in laying the foundations of success for Tauranac and Brabham all those years ago…

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BT3 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012. (oldracingcars.com)

Team Lotus sorted the 25 over the ’62/3 winter into a more consistent, reliable package, Doug Nye credits Len Terry for his role in finessing and fettling the car and Coventry Climax also developed the engines further.

Not only was the Lotus 25 and its successor 33 the best package of the 1.5 Litre F1 but one of the ten most important GP designs ever…no doubt Ron Tauranac had a good, long, hard look at Jacks sister Lotus 24 as he finalised the design elements of BT3 in the early months of ’62.

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Victorious spaceframe amongst the monocoques; #6 Jacky Ickx in his winning Brabham BT26A Ford, #7 Stewart Matra MS80 2nd, Rindt Lotus 49B DNF and Hulme McLaren M7C DNF, all Ford powered. German GP 1969. Tauranac evolved his Repco powered 1968 BT26 into the Cosworth powered BT26A for ’69, Ickx also won at Mosport, Canada. Ron was using aluminium to provide some additional structural stiffness to his multi-tubulat masterpieces by then. (unattributed)

One of the bits of history which amuses me, small things amuse small minds, granted! is that despite the undoubted technical advantages of a monocoque chassis over a good-ole spaceframe, Tauranac’s Brabhams won GP’s with spaceframes right to the end of the sixties; his 1968 design BT26, won 2 Grands Prix for Jacky Ickx in 1969, let alone the titles Ron and Jack took in ’66 and ’67! So theory and practice sometimes diverge.

Tauranac’s first monocoque GP Brabham, the 1970 BT33, a change forced by regulations demanding ‘bag’ fuel tanks (his 1968 BT25 Indycar was his first monocoque) was a ripper car, one of the seasons best, it should have won at least 3 GP’s (South Africa, Monaco and British) instead of the one it did and Jack with luck, could have taken a title in his final, 1970 F1 year.

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Brabhams BT33 3rd ahead of Hulme’s McLaren M14D 4th and Peterson’s March 701DNF a Ferrari 312B in the distance. Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford won. French GP, Clermont Ferrand 1970. BT33 took a win for Jack in South Africa in 1970, Tauranac’s first GP monocoque. (unattributed)

Back to the period at hand; 1962’s BT3 evolved into 1963’s BT7, a very competitive package in the hands of both Jack and particularly Dan Gurney who became the driver the era’s undoubted star, Jim Clark feared the most.

There would be Brabham wins in the 1963-65 period but not as many as there should have been with a series of problems/preparation errors and bad luck of the type Team Lotus experienced in 1962, a story for another time…

Etectera…

Lotus 24.

24 outline

Lotus 24 outline. (unattributed)

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Brabham, Lotus 24 Climax, Dutch GP 1962. (unattributed)

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Jack Brabham Lotus 24 Climax Monaco 1962 (John Hendy)

Brabham BT3.

bt3 outline

Brabham BT3 outline. (unattributed)

The photos below by George Phillips were taken of BT3 on 29 July 1962 at MRD’s New Haw Lock factory beside the River Wey navigation canal adjacent to the old Brooklands circuit.

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Profile of BT3 (George Phillips)

brabham 2

Cockpit shot of BT3 also shows the spaceframe chassis and unusual front suspension, beefy upper wishbone and single lower link (George Phillips)

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BT3 Rear wishbone upper and lower suspension, Weber carbed Coventry Climax FWMV engine in 1962, Colotti-Francis 6 speed ‘box. (George Phillips)

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BT3 CC FWMV engine layout, spaceframe chassis, vestigial roll bar!, 2 radius rods. (George Phillips)

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BT3 butt shot. Nicely faired engine, inverted upper wishbones. (George Phillips)

brabham 6

BT3 front detail. Spaceframe of 18 guage steel construction, Smiths instruments, LH change for Colotti ‘box, front suspension detail including odd top wishbone. (George Phillips)

BT7 1963 Future.

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Brabham’s own spaceframe 1963 vintage. Jack in the Nurburgring paddock in a BT7 Climax, an evolution of BT3, 1963. (unattributed)

Bibliography…

Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car 1965-85’, ‘Automobile Year’ # 10 and 11, Doug Nye ‘The Jack Brabham Story’, silhouet.com, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

The Cahier Archive, Dave Friedman Collection, Milton McCutcheon, Yves Debraine, John Hendy, George Phillips, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece: Brabham debuts BT3 Nurburgring 1962…

What a sense of achievement and anticipation Brabham must have felt as he set off on his first laps of The ‘Ring in BT3, in his wildest dreams i doubt he would have imagined the success of the following years?!

jack ring

(The Jack Brabham Story)

Finito…

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Max Stewart, Niel Allen & Leo Geoghegan (L>R) , Easter Bathurst, 1969 (Wayne McKay)

Start of the ‘Gold Star’ race Mount Panorama, Easter 1969…

In the Good ‘Ole Days there used to be 2 meetings a year at Mount Panorama, Easter when the Gold Star race was the feature and of course the ‘Taxi’ classic  later in the year.

In those days the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship meant something. A lot in fact, it was won down the decades by some great, World Class drivers including Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, John McCormack, Max Stewart, Alfredo Costanzo and many others.These days it does not have the same cachet and ‘Taxis’ dominate in Australia. Sadly.

This photo was posted on Facebook recently by Wayne McKay and shows the grid of the ’69 Gold Star event.

Leo Geoghegan is on pole in his evergreen, white, ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco, alongside is Niel Allen in his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4a Ford FVA (a European F2 car) Max Stewart having joined Alec Mildrens team that year is at the wheel of the yellow Mildren Waggott in which he would have so much success over the following 3 years. The Mildren was a car built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Brabham BT23 jig.

The red car on the second row is John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco, repaired after his huge Bathurst prang the year before. The light blue car is Queenslander Glynn Scott in his Bowin P3 Ford FVA, a wonderful monocoque built by John Joyce in Sydney, Joyce not long before having returned from a longish stint as an Engineer at Lotus.

The red car towards the rear of the grid, on the fence side of the track is Jack Brabham in his Brabham BT31 Repco. Jack was making a rare Gold Star appearance in the F3 based car built for his 1969 Tasman Series campaign, but which could not be unloaded because of a ‘Wharfies’ strike, and only raced in the final Sandown Tasman round.

This car was the lowest mileage Brabham ever built, it raced at Sandown and then Bathurst, the 2.5 litre ANF1 was in its dying days, Repco were unable to sell it. Years later, after being a Repco display car Rodway Wolfe acquired it, eventually it commenced its second career as an historic racer in Bib Stillwells’ hands.

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Jack Brabham Brabham BT31 Repco , Bathurst Easter 1969 between ‘Skyline’ and ‘The Dipper’. He tried the car both bi-winged and with rear wing only during practice , racing the car as shown. BT31 a one off car based on the F3 BT28. Repco 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ SOHC, 2 valve V8, circa 295 BHP @ 9000 RPM (D Simpson)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula…

The grid shows just how poor fields had become as the 2.5 litre formula came towards its end.

The Tasman 2.5 litre Tasman Formula commenced in 1964 in Australia and New Zealand. The Tasman Series, 8 events initially, 4 in both Australia and NZ over two months in the Southern Summer was well attended by works or semi works cars from BRM, Lotus, and Ferrari running 2.5 litre variants (bored versions of their 1.5 litre F1 engines out to about 2 or 2.1 litres, or ‘de-stroked’ versions of their 3 litre F1 engines) of their F1 engines.

Local competitors could, on more or less equal terms, compete with the internationals using cars in the early Tasman years powered by the Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine, dominant in the final years of the 2.5 Litre F1 and later on Repco’s Tasman V8’s, which were available to anyone with the cash.

As the 60’s went on it became harder to attract the European teams to the Tasman Series as the F1 season became longer, and local competitors, other than a small number of teams struggled with budgets to run a Repco.

Mind you, budgets in open-wheeler racing in Australia, whatever the era have always been a problem. It was time, in all the circumstances to consider a new ANF1. CAMS were vacillating between 2 litre F2, to commence in Europe in 1972, and Formula A or Formula 5000, which used ‘stock block’ American V8’s and which had commenced in the US, but ‘taken off’ in Europe in 1969.

CAMS announced the change to 2 Litres, which made sense as Merv Waggotts’ engine had already proved competitive. Under pressure from Ford, Holden and Repco, all of whom had commercial interests in the V8’s introduced into Australian road cars in preceding years, ultimately and controversially in some quarters, F5000 became the new ANF1 from 1971, with the 2.5 Litre cars legal in the 1970 Tasman, F5000’s first Tasman Season.

Presumably Jack came to Australia to fulfil commitments to Repco, as a non-resident he was ineligible for Gold Star points, either way he was a welcome addition to the thinning Gold Star grid.

He was a busy boy in April and May. He was at Bathurst in April, raced in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix in Barcelona and Monte Carlo on May 4 and 18, also practising, qualifying and then racing at Indianapolis on May 30. Indianapolis itself occupied a big chunk of May.

indy

Jacks car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 was the BT25 built the year before. In 1968 they (2 cars bult by MRD) were raced throughout the season by Jack, Jochen Rindt, and Masten Gregory. Repco ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled V8, circa 500BHP @ 8500RPM. Hewland GB300 gearbox, chassis using sheet aluminium as a stressed member for the first time in a Brabham.

Jack engaged Peter Revson to drive the other BT25, the cars powered by big 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled ‘760 series’ Repco V8’s, close cousins of the F1 ‘860 Series’ engines which had given so much grief in 1968.

AJ Foyt was on pole at 170.568 MPH, with Jack on 163.875MPH, Revvie squeaking into the field slowest qualifier at 160.851MPH. Revson showed his class in the race won by Andrettis’ Hawk Ford, finishing fifth whilst Jack had ignition failure.

The cars were competitive that season Revson winning a race at Indianapolis Raceway Park later in the season.

jack and pete

Jack Brabham and Peter Revson at Indianapolis 1969

High Wings…

Looking at the Bathurst cars the high-wings stand out, pun intended.

They had grown larger and higher over the previous 12 months, developments in F1 emulating the wings used first by Chaparral on their Cam Am and World Sports Car Championship cars.

Things were about to change though after numerous failures to wings and their mounts- Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill both experienced near catastrophic failures of the wing mounts on their Lotus 49’s in Barcelona on May 4. The FIA acted decisively at Monaco, banning high wings in all classes globally after Monaco GP practice. There on Saturday, gone on Sunday.

Jack experimented with bi-wings in Bathurst practice, had fuel feed problems problems so he qualified well back, but settled for a wing on the rear, and went sans aero-assistance on the front for the race. The fuel delivery problems were alleviated with the installation of the electric fuel pump from Repco Director, Charlie Deans’ Lancia and an on/off switch to avoid flattening the cars battery.

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Rodway Wolfes’ shot of Jack in practice, here with both front and rear high-wings, Mount Panorama Easter 1969. (Rodway Wolfe)

The skinny grid looked even thinner by the time the cars appeared out of ‘Murrays’ and onto pit straight at the end of lap 1- Stewart and Allen had a territorial dispute going into the Dipper tangling and neatly parking nose to nose high above the Bathurst Plains below.

maxxy

Niel Allen #2 and Max Stewart neatly parked high on the mount…’The Dipper’. McLaren M4a and Mildren Waggott respectively, Max extricating all 6’4” from the Mildren. Superb shot shows both the height and elevation of Mount Panorama. (John Arkwright)

Jack cantered way and won the Bathurst Gold Star race, his last win in Australia, but one?…

Brabham retired from F1 at the end of 1970, but let’s come back to that in a little bit.

In 1971 Bob Jane promoted a Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in August pitting some of the stars of the past and present against each other.

Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton and Alan Moffat were amongst the drivers who took on Jack in his Bowin P4x. Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bob Beasley who raced ‘Jacks’ car in the ‘Driver to Europe Series’, the Australian Formula Ford Championship that year, Jack taking the car to victory to much public acclaim…no way were one of the locals going to beat him having just retired!

So that little known FF event, I think, was JB’s last ever race win?

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Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’. Calder August 15 1971. # 6 Bib Stillwell Elfin 600, in his old helmet!, #1 Jack Brabham Bowin P4x, # 7 Unknown Elfin 600, and the obscured car alogside Jack is Frank Matich in, i think an Aztec. Trivia is that car # 6 is the Elfin 600 raced by Larry Perkins to win the FF Championship in 1971, Mike Stillwell raced the sister BS Stillwell Ford # 7 entry in the same Championship. (Unattributed)

Jack ‘came back’ and did some touring car events in the mid 70’s,including the Bathurst 1000 several times and even shared a Porsche 956 in the World Sports Car Championship race at Sandown in 1984, but I reckon that FF win was his last.

l34

In a promotional coup, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss shared a Holden Torana L34 in the 1976 Bathurst 1000. Unfortunately the car had a driveline failure and was hit up the ar$e badly damaging the car. Patched together, the pair put on a show for the crowd but the car did not finish (autopics)

porker

# 56 Porsche 956 driven by Jack Brabham and Johnny Dumfries in the Sandown 1000 round of the World Endurance Championship in 1984. The car was a camera vehicle, and again a promotional coup but still competing, although suffered rear suspension failure so was a DNF. Brabham and Alan Jones careers did not overlap in F1 but both Australian World Champs competed in this race Jones sharing another Rothmans Porsche with Vern Schuppan, also DNF. It was Jacks first experience of a ground effect car, at 58, quite different to the last ‘serious car’ he drove, the Brabham BT33 Ford in which he finished the Mexican GP in 1970, he acquitted himself well. (Pinterest)

jack 1

Whats it like out there Jack? It was a hot weekend, the challenge of the powerful ground-effects Porsche must have been considerable but Jack drove for over 2 hours in total, the car eventually failing. Whilst in works Rothmans colours it was a Richard Lloyd Racing 956

F1 in 1970…

These days F1 is all about youth, drivers start in Karts, some are in F1 by 20. Jack was 44 when he commenced his last season and was incredibly competitive at an age F1 drivers these days are long since retired. It was to be a very full season for Jack in a large number of different categories.

He won the season opening South African GP, made a last lap mistake at Monaco under pressure from Jochen Rindt whilst leading and came second. He also finished second to Rindt in the British GP at Brands Hatch as well having passed him and was pulling away before running short of fuel on the last lap, an error made by then Brabham mechanic, and now McLaren chief, Ron Dennis.

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Brabham leading a gaggle of cars early in the Monaco GP 1970. Brabham BT33 Ford, Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra MS120, Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B, Denny Hulme McLaren M14a and one of the Lotuses…Jack lead the race but Rindt gave the Lotus 49 its last victory in a phenomenal chase of Brabham, pressuring him into a last lap error into second place. Had Rindt re-joined Brabham for 1970, he enjoyed 1968 with them despite the foibles of the Repco ‘860 Series’ DOHC V8, instead of staying at Lotus Jack would have retired at the end of ’69 and Rindt, who knows?…(Pinterest)

He could have won the World Title in 1970 with a little more luck. Mind you luck was in short supply that year, friends and former teammates, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt as well as Piers Courage  perished in 1970.

Grand Prix racing is the pinnacle but 1970 was a year of great depth. The grid comprised the established aces- Stewart, Rindt, Hill, Ickx, Hulme and Rodriguez, as well as young chargers in their first F1 year including Regazzoni, Peterson, Fittipaldi and our own Tim Schenken. Ferrari, Lotus, BRM, Brabham and March all won races in 1970 as well.

Ron Tauranac designed Jack a ‘pearler’ of a car for 1970. The team had been successful with space-frame chassis’ since it was formed. Chapman popularised the monocoque with his 1962 Lotus 25 but Brabham won championships in all formulae with their simple, user friendly, easy to repair and forgiving cars. The latter was both a design feature and a function of Jack doing the final chassis settings before ‘sign-off’.

For 1970 monocoques had effectively been mandated by the FIA, new regulations demanding bag fuel tanks to improve the safety of the cars. Tauranacs’ first stressed-skin chassis was the BT25 ‘Indycar’ pictured above. The BT33 could be said to be standard ‘Cosworth powered kit-car’- an aluminium monocoque, Ford DFV engine and Hewland gearbox were its essential elements, but it was a very good one, and was still very competitive in Tim Schenkens hands in 1971.

bt33

This shot is at Hockenheim 1970, Stommelens’ car in front (5th), Jacks (DNF) at rear. Essential elements the ‘bathtub’ aluminium monocoque chassis. Front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbone operating inboard mounted coil spring/damper unit. Gearbox and rear suspension ass’y rolls away for the engine change minimising time spent especially on time consuming wheel alignment in the field..mechanics will still align the car mind you..but not as big a job! The more you look, the more you see…(Pinterest)

Matra…1970

Jack had decided to retire due to family pressure at the end of 1969 when he agreed terms verbally with Jochen Rindt to rejoin the team for 1970. Jochen enjoyed his Brabham season in 1968 despite the problems with the ‘860 Repco’ engine but ultimately asked Jack to release him from his undertaking as a consequence of an offer from Lotus which was too good to refuse. Had that course of events transpired history would of course been quite different…Rindt dying at the wheel of a Lotus 72 at Monza and winning the 1970 World Championship posthumously.

Jack told his wife Betty he would compete for one more year, putting everything into that last season, and not just F1.

He participated in the World Sports Car Championship for Matra competing at Le Mans in an MS650, a spaceframed car using an endurance version of the compnay’s F1 3 litre, 48 valve V12. He shared the car at Le Mans with Francois Cevert, the car not finishing with engine failure.

He also did the lead up events to Le Mans including Daytona, 10th with Francois Cevert, Cevert breaking into F1 that year. He shared a car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise at Brands and Monza finishing 12th and 5th respectively.

1970 and 1971 were the years of the ‘5 litre monsters’ the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S, it was tough for 3 litre prototypes, Matra steadily evolved their cars to be the class of the field in 1973/4/5, but Jack enjoyed the season and having simply to drive the car, not do literally everything else.

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In search of downforce…Brabham in the Matra MS650, Brands Hatch 1000Km, April 1970, 12th sharing the car with Beltiose (Pinterest)

And Indy…1970

Ron Tauranac built a new monocoque car for  the race using  a 2.65 litre turbo-charged 4 cylinder ‘Offy engine and Weisman gearbox. Jack was classified 13th but had piston failure which carved the block in half. The race was won that year by Al Unser in a Colt Offy ‘Johnny Lightning Special’.

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Formula 2 in a Brabham BT30…1970

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Pau GP 1970 front row L>R : Jochen Rindt on pole Lotus 69, Francois Mazet & Jack Brabham both in Brabham BT30’s. Green helmet in the secong row is Henri Pescarolo in another Barbham BT30, and alongside Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69. All Ford FVA powered. Rindt won from Pescarolo and Tim Schenken, also in a BT30…(DPPI)

John ‘Nuggett’ Coombs was a longtime privateer entrant running Brabhams and in 1970 had a ‘dream team’ of Jackie Stewart and Jack sharing a Brabham BT30. Jack competed at Pau, Rouen and Tulln-Langenlebarn (Vienna), his best result second in the latter meeting to the Ickx BMW 270.

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Brabham ahead of Jochen Rindt at Pau, France 1970. Jack DNF, Rindt winning the race in his Lotus 69 Ford FVA. The European F2 Championship was won in 1970 by Clay Regazzoni in a Tecno Ford FVA. Brabham is driving a Brabham BT30 FVA owned by John Coombs. (Pinterest)

Tasman Series 1970 and Retirement…

The only series he didn’t do that he usually did was the Tasman Series in our Summer, his Matra campaign commenced on January 31 at Daytona, but it was the first year of the F5000 Tasman series, albeit the 2.5 Litre cars were still eligible, maybe he figured it wasn’t worth the effort as MRD didn’t build an F5000 car at the time? Either way he spent February in Australia.

Graham Lawrence won the Tasman series that year with his ex-Amon Ferrari 246T, consistently running with and beating the more powerful but less nimble F5000’s.

If only Jack had dusted off the BT31 which won at Bathurst the previous April, fitted current tyres and wings maybe he would have won the Tasman Series, a cup missing from his mantelpiece.

Jack said in later years that he felt he had another 3 or 4 competitive years in him. He recounts to Doug Nye in his biography that his father, who had always been his strongest supporter within the family and reinforced his decisions to continue racing, advised him not to reconsider his retirement during 1970 given the deaths which occurred that season.

At the end 0f 1970 Jack returned to Australia to a farm near Wagga, Jack Brabham Ford in Sydney and his aviation interests in addition to investments in the UK.

What can you say about this remarkable Australian which hasn’t already been said? To my way of thinking he is Australias greatest sportsman ever. No other individual performed at the same level for so long, was as innovative as he was, and took on the best in the world and won, both in terms of his driving and in the deployment of Australian technology.

RIP Jack Brabham and thank goodness you did retire at the end of 1970.

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Jack Brabham, sans wings, Sandown Tasman practice 1969…surely a competitive mount in Tasman 1970 had he entered…?(Flickr unattributed)

 

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Deep in set-up thought. Jack in his BT33 F1 car during 1970. ‘Jet Jackson’ fighter pilots helmet that he, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage tried that year. Skiers goggles. No nomex gloves, leather, nice Rolex watch. Lovely shot which captures the essence of the guy i think!? (Getty Images)

 


 

Etcetera: Bathurst 1969…

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Jack Brabham , Bathurst practice Easter 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco ‘bi-winged’ in practice (Facebook)

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Brabham in the race which he won, sans front wing. Bathurst Easter 1969. (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: Calder FF Race 1971…

 

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Brabham takes the spoils of victory…’Race of Champions’ Calder, Australia August 1971. Car is a Formula Ford Bowin P4x (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: F1 1970 and Brabham BT33…

 

bt 33 cutaway

Drawing of Ron Tauranacs’ 1970 Brabham BT33 Ford, Motor Racing Developments first ‘real’ monocoque chassis car

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Jarama, Spanish GP 1970. Avoiding the fire as a result of the Ickx/Oliver collision, both the Ferrari and BRM were destroyed but the drivers escaped an accident caused by a stub axle failure of the BRM (Pinterest)

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Jack Brabham, Monaco 1970 . BT33 from above, wet Saturday practice (Pinterest)

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Jack trying teammate Rolf Stommelens BT33 in Spain practice, both DNF in the race won by the March 701 Ford of Jackie Stewart (Pinterest)

Etcetera Matra…

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daytona

Jack Brabham, Matra MS 650, Daytona 1970 (Nigel Smuckatelli)

Photo and Other Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Pinterest, Getty Images, ‘Jack Brabhan with Doug Nye’, Nigel Smuckatelli

The End…