Sir Jack Brabham, the only man to win the Formula 1 World Championship in a car bearing his own name, has died at the age of 88. He passed away on Monday morning at his home on The Gold Coast, Australia.
John Arthur Brabham – known as Jack – was born in Hurstville, just outside of Sydney on 2 April 1926. He was immersed in motoring and engineering from an early age, leaving school at 15 to work at a garage and study mechanical engineering.
After a spell in the Royal Australian Air Force, Brabham started racing in 1948, driving a Midget car that he'd built for a friend. He was successful and, after climbing Australia's racing ladder, he moved to Europe to race in 1955.
Brabham quickly befriended John Cooper of Cooper Cars, and made his Formula 1 debut at the British Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Cooper T40, retiring with engine problems.
By 1958 he was a full-time grand prix driver with Cooper, and in 1959 he won the Monaco Grand Prix, following it up with a win in the British GP at Aintree. He clinched his first world title in dramatic circumstances when he ran out of fuel on the final lap of the United States GP but pushed his car across the finish line for fourth place, good enough for the crown.
A back-to-back run of five victories ensured a successful title defence in 1960, but Cooper's car for the new 1.5-litre engine formula that dawned in 1961 wasn't competitive and Brabham scored just three points.
For 1962 he set up his own eponymous team. The next few years were challenging, and at one point he considered quitting driving to focus on running the team. In 1964 Dan Gurney brought the Brabham team its first grand prix victory.
Two years later the combination of Brabham's Ron Tauranac-designed BT19 and the potent Repco V8 engine proved hard to beat. At the 1966 French Grand Prix he became the first driver ever to win a race in a car bearing his own name and three subsequent victories landed his third world championship.
The following season Brabham's strong form continued but he had to be content with second in the points, having pushed team-mate and new champion Denny Hulme all the way. A couple of barren years followed but he collected his 14th and last grand prix victory in the South African Grand Prix at the start of 1970. He retired from the sport at the end of that season at the age of 44.
Brabham and his family retired to a farm in Australia and although he sold the Brabham team to business partner Ron Tauranac, he remained actively involved in the industry and myriad other engineering businesses such as aviation. In 1979, Jack Brabham became the first motor racing champion to receive a knighthood for his services to the sport. He continued to compete in historic events such as the Goodwood Revival until the mid-2000s, when ill health prevented him from indulging in his passion.
Brabham's three sons, Geoff, Gary and David, all followed their father into motor racing and achieved success at an international level. Grandsons Matthew and Sam are currently competing in single-seater racing.
On behalf of the family, Brabham's youngest son David said: "It's a very sad day for all of us. My father passed away peacefully at home at the age of 88 on Monday morning.
"He lived an incredible life, achieving more than anyone would ever dream of and he will continue to live on through the astounding legacy he leaves behind."