1980 Formula One world champion Alan Jones says Sir Jack Brabham paved the way for his and many other Australians’ success in international motorsport.
Generations of Australian motorsport drivers will forever be indebted to Sir Jack Brabham for opening the door to international success.
That will be the three-time Formula One world champion’s greatest legacy, according to 1980 F1 champion Alan Jones.
Brabham died on Monday at his Gold Coast home, aged 88.
The news caused a global outpouring of tributes to the ex-Sydney fruit and vegetable delivery driver who went on to become one of Australia’s greatest sportsmen.
World titles in 1959, 1960 and 1966 – when he became the only man to win a championship in a car he’d designed and built – paved the way for drivers such as Jones and modern stars Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo to show what they could do internationally.
“Built, designed and engineered his own car and won the world championship,” Jones told AAP.
“I mean, that’s an unbelievable feat which hasn’t been done before and I don’t think will ever be done again. He’s helped a lot of Aussies … he opened up the eyes of the world to Aussie talent in that respect.
“Just showing young blokes that it can be done. If you have the determination and the willpower and single-mindedness you can pack your bags, you can go to the other end of the world and you can achieve your goal, your dream, which he did.”
Brabham only took up motorsport in 1948 after a two-year stint as a mechanic in the Royal Australian Air Force.
After winning four Australian speedcar championships, Brabham headed to England, debuting for the Formula One Cooper team in the 1955 British Grand Prix when he was 29 years old.
In 1959, Brabham won his first world title when he pushed his car over the finish line at the final race of the year after it had run out of fuel.
Brabham took part in 126 Grands Prix from 1955 to 1970, amassing 14 wins, 31 podiums, 13 pole positions and 12 fastest laps.
Following his retirement in 1970, Brabham was the first motorsport identity to be knighted, receiving the honour in 1978.
Brabham was known throughout his career by the nickname Black Jack, a moniker which had as much to do with his reticence to engage in conversation away from his car as his dark hair.
“Sir Jack was a man of few words, that’s for sure,” Jones said.
“He wasn’t a chatterbox but when he put his bum on the line he got the job done and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Brabham had battled illness for several years and was receiving dialysis treatment three times a week.
Despite his health concerns, Brabham regularly attended functions and a day before his death had travelled to the Sunshine Coast, where he was reunited with the 1967 BT23 race car he designed and built.
His wife, Lady Margaret, said preparations were underway for her husband’s funeral though no arrangements had been confirmed.
“He was fine yesterday so it has been a bit of a shock even though he had been sick for some time,” she told motorsports website Speedcafe.com.
“I have spoken to all three boys and we are in the process of organising funeral arrangements.”
Sir Jack is survived by his wife and sons Geoff, Gary and David.
His grandsons Matthew and Sam are also racing drivers, with Matthew preparing to compete at this weekend’s Indy Lights event in Indianapolis as part of the build-up to this month’s Indy 500 race.
“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,” his son David said in a statement.