Motor Racing is an essentially circular activity, much like life, though in that particular case it eventually comes down to the ever-decreasing variety. On a July Saturday, almost 50 years ago, I travelled in a state of great excitement to Kent, Brands Hatch to be precise. I was going to my first motor race.
My heroes were going to be there; Seppi and Pedro, plus the greats such as Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill, I could not believe my good fortune. The 1970 British Grand Prix was chock-full of legends like Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and John Surtees – another future ace, Emerson Fittipaldi, was making his F1 début.
I had devoured Motor Sport and Autocar for the previous year or two in search of knowledge of this exciting and glamorous scene and was just getting into another publication, Autosport. I was properly hooked on motor racing, it was all downhill from there.
The race is remembered for the last lap victory of Jochen Rindt, taking advantage of Jack Brabham’s fuel starved car. From my perspective in the grandstand at Clearways it was downright robbery, the Aussie had earned the win. A few weeks later this thought was tempered with the news of the Austrian’s death at Monza. That season had already seen Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage killed while behind the wheel of a racing car, we would witness the first, and hopefully the last, posthumous World Champion.
Years passed and I was fortunate to have some small involvement with the sport, mainly in the endurance racing sector. A familiar name popped up in the mid-90s, that of Brabham, this time David rather than Jack, or Sir Jack as he was honoured.
David was one of the top drivers of his time, a Le Mans winner, but also a genuinely good bloke, clearly his father’s son. Recently he has relaunched the family name in the world of high performance cars, indeed I wrote about the launch of the car some time back. HERE
A week or so back the Brabham brand returned to Brands Hatch as David raced the Brabham BT62 in its début, scoring a memorable victory in the first Britcar endurance race of the weekend. The one hour event on Saturday evening was held in torrential conditions as competitors raced into the sodden night. Co-driver Will Power struggled with a windscreen that misted up during the opening stint but when he handed over the elegant racer to Brabs at the mandatory pitstop he had done enough to lay the foundations for success. The pair were justifiably chuffed with the result, perhaps the first step on the road to Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans in 2022.
The team were brought back down to earth on the Sunday morning when they were forced out of the lead in the second race with alternator problems. A very promising start and hopefully the prologue to a motorsport legend in the making.
DDC had the services of Simon Hildrew to illustrate this piece, as ever he did a brilliant job, more to come from him during the coming weeks as we attend to clearing the backlog of pieces ready to post.
John Brooks November 2019