Sir John Arthur "Jack" Brabham, Formula 1 World Champion in 1959, 1960, and 1966 turns 88 years old today.
An Australian national treasure and a name synonymous with motor racing, Sir Jack Brabham is without doubt one of the all time greats of Formula 1. He competed in 126 F1 races, finishing on the podium 31 times, and racing to 14 wins. His Championship victories in 1959 and 1960 were notable not just for driving brilliance behind the wheel of Cooper cars, but also for Brabham persuading John and his father Charles Cooper to go with a mid-engined philosophy of car construction. The results were wins, and the wins became Championships. Now as we all know, mid engined construction is the optimum method of building an F1 car.
Having practiced engineering earlier in his life with the Royal Australian Air Force before going on to form his own small workshop, Sir Jack possessed fantastic mechanical understanding that served him well throughout his career. Later in 1966, Sir Jack became the only man in history to win a Formula 1 World Championship behind the wheel of a car that was of his own manufacturing. This car was his "Old Nail" the Brabham BT19.
Like all the greats, Sir Jack hated to lose. Growing on top of that though, he had a rather interesting character. Considered a rather silent and shadowy figure, he acquired the nickname "Black Jack", due to his unemotional nature, jet black hair, and stubble. Out on the track however he was far more expressive, regarded as an aggressive and forceful driver.
Competing in Formula 1 until the age of 44, Brabham called it a day at the end of the 1970 Formula 1 season to the relief of his family. He considered it a season which he could quite possibly have won, and he was indeed very competitive. He won the first race of the season and finished 2nd both at Monaco and at the British Grand Prix. He also recorded a 3rd place in the French Grand Prix. In the end, he had to settle for 5th in the standings, level with Jackie Stewart.
When Sir Jack had finally walked away, his Brabham team was eventually sold on to an Englishman by the name of Bernie Ecclestone, and he returned home to his native Australia to run a farm. He did however continue to be heavily involved in motorsport development, and all three of his sons later went on to become racing drivers.
Now at the age of 88, he is both the oldest surviving Grand Prix winner and Formula 1 World Champion. Sir Jack Brabham is often overlooked when considering the greatest drivers of all time. Today is fine day to recognise the achievements of the man and the sheer number of honours, awards, and titles he has both won himself, or had bestowed upon him says it all.
Happy Birthday Sir Jack! Many happy returns!