Former Grand Prix driver Gary Brabham – the second-born son of three-time World Champion Sir Jack Brabham – is today celebrating his 51st birthday!
Despite plenty of success in the junior categories, Gary’s all-too-brief F1 foray was behind the wheel with the laughably bad Life F1 team in 1990.
Despite hopes from his mother that he would avoid the motor-racing scene altogether, grew up on a diet of Formula Ford in Australia and the UK before winning the inaugural British Formula 3000 championship in 1989 and earning himself a test with Benetton.
With his crash helmet patriotically sporting a kangaroo in its colour scheme, Gary’s next stop was Formula 1. He had some test outings with Benetton and Brabham, before throwing his lot in with the Life project, which would go down as one of the worst Grand Prix teams in the sport’s history.
Entered with the aim of showcasing the car’s unusual W12 engine – presumably with the hope that a manufacturer might pick it up and bankroll the effort – Gary’s stint was short-lived to say the least.
He failed to prequalify the car on his F1 debut at Phoenix, posting a lap time some 30 seconds slower than the next-slowest prequalifier, EuroBrun’s Claudio Langes. Another non-prequalification occurred at the next round in Brazil – this time his engine blew after 400 metres of running on the out-lap! Gary promptly quit the team in disgust.
He returned to the British F3000 scene and then moved into a successful sports car career, winning the 1991 Sebring 12 Hours with his older brother Geoff, and former F1 driver Derek Daly.
He also had a couple of outing in CART when the circus visited Australia for the Gold Coast round. He retired from competitive racing in 1995.
[Images via F1-Facts, F1 Nostalgia, F1 Rejects, Scuderia Ferreira BMF]