Today we celebrate a very special birthday, with Australia’s very own Sir Jack Brabham – Formula 1’s oldest-surviving World Champion – turning 86 years old today!
Sydney-born 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 twelve and competing in midget racing at the age of twenty, 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.
But if anyone had doubts that he deserved the 1959 title, they were proven wrong in 1960 when Brabham won five (all consecutively) of the eight races that season.
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.