Twelve years. That’s how long it has taken David Brabham to reassert control over his famous family name and then formulate a solid strategy to re-establish it as a credible player in the automotive industry.
Now, following last month’s launch of the new-look Brabham Automotive and its £1m-before-tax BT62 track car, he says he’s determined to put the foundations in place to ensure the name is never allowed to fade back into obscurity.
Brabham was a mighty force in Formula 1 and other racing formulae from the early 1960s, when David’s father, Sir Jack, first entered his own team in grand prix competition, to the mid-1980s, when it vied for dominance against McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari. But whereas those other famous names remained consistently active, Brabham as a racing constructor faded into obscurity.
After long-term owner Bernie Ecclestone sold up at the end of 1987, a succession of people played pass-the-parcel with the team until Brabham finally disappeared from the grid for good before the start of the 1993 grand prix season.
The equity in the name never diminished — something that didn’t go unnoticed with others with no connection to the Brabham family. In 2009, a tuning company in Germany christened itself Brabham Racing and launched a heavily modified BMW M3 Coupé (E92), heavily playing on the grand prix legacy not least by naming its car ‘BT92’, implying a link with the original Brabham company’s ‘BT’ model naming code. Around the same time, an attempt was made to enter F1 with a team called Brabham Grand Prix for the 2010 season.