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Jonathan Palmer pays tribute to Sir Jack Brabham

Monday, May 19 2014

MSV Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer has paid tribute to motor racing legend Sir Jack Brabham, who passed away this morning in his native Australia.

Brabham leaves a huge legacy in motorsport, particularly in Britain, which he made his home during his racing career from the 1950s to 1970. After early success in Australia, he played a vital part in the rise of the Cooper Car Company, working alongside father-and-son partnership Charlie and John Cooper as they revolutionised the sport with their rear-engined cars. Early sportscar and junior formula success led to a move into Grand Prix racing in the latter part of the 50s.

A year after Sir Stirling Moss had proven the concept's effectiveness with an historic win in Rob Walker's private Cooper, Jack won the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix for the works operation. A further win was added at Aintree and the momentum carried him to the first of three World Championships, famously taken by pushing his car to the line in Sebring. Eleven years later he ran out of fuel again at Brands Hatch, losing out to Jochen Rindt in his final British Grand Prix appearance.

Between those years he had founded his own company building race cars, and victory in the 1966 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch was the second of four straight wins that formed the foundation of his third title. To this day he remains the only man to have won the World Championship in a car bearing his own name.

Jack also won the Oulton Park Gold Cup in 1957, 1964, 1966 and 1967, the latter two for F1 cars, plus the 1961 Lombank Trophy at Snetterton.

In 1970 he retired from motor racing, sold his team and returned to Australia. However he often returned to Europe to follow his sons' racing careers. Eldest son Geoff, who enjoyed much of his success in the United States, was soon followed by brothers Gary and David. Grandsons Matthew and Sam are now carrying on the family name.

The Brabham operation was bought by Rindt's manager Bernie Ecclestone, prompting his rise to the top of F1. Meanwhile Jack's business partner Ron Tauranac then went on to form Ralt, and his cars helped nurture the careers of many drivers, including Jonathan Palmer.

Paying tribute, Palmer said: "Sir Jack Brabham had a quite extraordinary life with so many outstanding achievements in our world of motorsport. The most time I spent with Sir Jack was when he was my guest at the Oulton Park Gold Cup in 2004 and we enjoyed a delightful dinner together, particularly reminiscing about Ron Tauranac, a former team partner of Jack's and for whom I drove in F2.  Sir Jack Brabham had many successes at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park and we are proud that his name will always live on at Brands Hatch with the Brabham Straight and the Brabham Stewart hospitality centre."

MSV sends its condolences to Sir Jack's family and friends.