Gary Brabham, the former racing driver and son of the late Sir Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula 1 World Champion, has been found guilty of child sex offences.
The 54-year-old, who briefly drove in Formula 1 in 1990 for the hapless Life team, was ruled by the Brisbane District Court to have committed indecent acts – including rape – of a girl over a four-year period between 2003 and 2007. The victim was aged between 6 and 10 at the time.
Brabham was convicted of rape and one charge of indecent treatment of a child, while also ruled not guilty of a further five indecent treatment charges.
The court proceedings heard the testimony of the victim, now aged 19, delivered via a video-recorded police statement where she recounted Brabham’s indecent conduct. The crimes were not reported to police until 2013 when the girl reported the abuse to her mother.
After the guilty verdict was handed down, the 12-person jury was informed that Brabham had prior criminal convictions, the details of which have been suppressed from the media. There will be a separate hearing where he will be sentenced.
The second of sir Jack’s three sons, Gary started racing in 1982 and finished his first ever car race in third place despite running a car that was almost ten years old. He moved to Europe the year after and despite very little support from the Australian public, finishing eleventh overall in the 1983 British Formula Ford 2000 Championship with Neil Trundle Racing.
He remained in the same championship for 1984 and joined Penistone Racing as teammate to Julian Bailey, regularly outpacing the Englishman en route to finishing sixth overall. Despite this, he couldn’t land a single-seater driver in 1985 and had to rely on his influential father to set up a British F3 team in 1986 to keep his prospects alive – he entered only half of the 18 races that season but still finished fifth overall.
He remained in Formula 3 in 1987 and challenged Johnny Herbert for the title until the team’s budget cruelly ran out in the final stages of the season, which meant he fell to sixth overall in the final standings.
He had a third crack at the British F3 title in 1988 with the Bowman Racing team and despite a slow start to his season, he dominated in the final stages of the championship and finished runner-up to JJ Lehto. His performances earned him an end-of-season test drive with the Benetton Formula 1 team at the behest of team manager and fellow Australian Peter Collins.
Hopes of a full-time graduation to the International Formula 3000 Championship went belly-up thanks to a lack of funds, but he secured a drive in the second-tier British F3000 series, which was having its inaugural season. Brabham romped to the title with four race victories.
Further F1 test opportunities came with the Leyton House and Brabham teams, but instead he threw his lot in with the brand new Life F1 team for the 1990 season. It quickly became apparent that the project was a complete joke and he quit the outfit after two failures to prequalify the car, which was fitted with an in-house W12 engine.
His F1 career was effectively over at that point, and the remainder of his racing career was spent with a series of guest drives in IMSA and CART, winning the 1991 12 Hours of Sebring alongside his older brother Geoff and former F1 driver Derek Daly. He also became the first Australian to race at the Gold Coast Indy street race in 1993. He retired from racing in 1995 and set up an advanced driver training course.
He is the son of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, who won the 1959, 1960 and 1966 titles. He died in May 2014 after a long battle with illness.
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