The Richard’s F1 team would like to extend happy birthday wishes to Sir Jack Brabham and Fabrizio Barbazza!
Turning a sprightly 85 today, Brabham was nicknamed ‘Black Jack’ by his peers, the title coming about not because of any affinity with gambling, but because of his uncompromising nature on the race track. Here was a man who combined commitment and determination with talent and technical know-how to create an incredibly successful career in Formula 1 that would net him three Drivers’ Championship crowns.
Having learned to drive by age 12 and competing in midget racing at the age of 20, Brabham formed an alliance with Ron Tauranac, with whom he would later create the Brabham F1 team.
By 1955, Brabham had made his F1 debut with Cooper, and by 1959 the rear-engined Coopers had come on strongly, netting him his first victory at Monaco and a championship by the end of the year, brought about by dint of his consistency rather than sheer unadulterated speed. His championship was secured by pushing his out-of-fuel car over the finish line at Sebring to earn fourth place.
He then took the plunge of setting up his own team, with Tauranac by his side, and by 1964 he had picked up his first win and a third title in 1966. He would eventually retire from the sport in 1970, approaching his 44th birthday, and proving just as competitive as drivers half his age.
Turning 48 today, Fabrizio Barbazza formed his early reputation as a fast – but wild! – driver in the Italian Formula 3 scene, finishing third in the series in 1985.
Faced with limited opportunities to move up the motorsport ladder in Europe, the wolly-haired Fabrizio took the unusual step of crossing the Atlantic to compete in the newly-formed American Racing Series in 1986, which he won on debut.
By the following year, Fabrizio had graduated to CART, taking over a vacancy in the Frank Arciero team, and he took an incredible third-placed finish at the Indianapolis 500, cementing ‘Rookie of the Year’ honours with twelfth place in the season-ending standings.
Still having an eye on a Formula 1 seat, Fabrizio returned to Europe and contested Formula 3000 before he landed a seat with the AGS F1 team in 1991.
But it was a fruitless task trying to qualify the off-the-pace car, and he returned to CART before joining F1 again in 1993, this time with Minardi. The Italian drove well for the underfinanced team, picking up two sixth places at San Marino and Donington before his funds ran dry mid-season.
Fabrizio returned to the United States once again, but his career came to a sudden end with a huge accident at an IMSA race at Road Atlanta, which saw him T-boned by another driver and in hospital with critical injuries.
Although it took over a year, he thankfully made a complete recovery but never returned to racing – instead he set up a go-kart circuit in Monza and started to research safer crash barrier designs. Later on, Fabrizio relocated to Cuba and set up a successful fishing resort on the country’s north, occasionally dabbling in a little bit of social karting.
Click here for Fabrizio Barbazza’s complete F1 results.