David Brabham – the only one of Sir Jack Brabham’s three sons to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix – is celebrating his 46th birthday today!
Sadly for David, he didn’t emulate his father’s incredible successes in Formula 1, however Sir Jack’s youngest son has carved out a very successful motorsport career nonetheless.
Born in Wimbledon, David returned to Australia when his father retired from full-time competition, and it was little surprise that he, along with brothers Gary and Geoff, would follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in motorsport.
He was successful in Australia and New Zealand in single-seaters, and ventured to the United States to race in Formula Atlantic, before moving on to England to contest the Formula Vauxhall Lotus championship in 1988.
He moved up to Formula 3 in 1989, and enjoyed a ding-dong battle with Allan McNish for the crown, which he eventually won after appeal the following February. He also won the blue-riband Macau Formula 3 race.
Next stop was Formula 3000 with the Middlebridge team, but this quickly translated into Formula 1 when the outfit bought the failing Brabham team, and he was drafted in to replace Gregor Foitek, who quit the squad after just two races.
The team was ‘Brabham’ in name only, and despite the pressure and unhelpful comparisons trotted out by the media, he performed capably in very uncompetitive machinery, although he still failed to make the grid six times. He was not kept on with the team into the 1991 season.
He switched to sports cars instead, driving for TWR Jaguar in 1991 and Toyota in 1992 while he treaded water in the hope of another Grand Prix return.
And a return opportunity did come, joining the fledgling Simtek team in 1994. It was a tough season in the underfinanced outfit, and he rose admirably to the role of team leader when team-mate Roland Ratzenberger was tragically killed at San Marino.
With the team facing uncertain times heading into 1995, David quit the team and took to touring cars, before again moving to the world of endurance racing. He won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours as part of Peugeot’s works operation.