In the hot seat -- Jack Brabham

He’s still furious at an unfair advantage handed to Stirling Moss in ’61. Other than that, the legendary Jack Brabham still refuses to use five words where one will do

True or false: in the 1957 Pescara GP you ran out of fuel and parked up at a petrol station. A man appeared, put in some fuel and you carried on. — Ross Ainscow, Anglesey

Yes, this is correct.

Only three sportcars carried the Brabham name BT5, BT8 and BT17. Why? — Steve Wilkinson. via e-mail

We concentrated on single-seaters, not sportscars. I tried to get Ron Tauranac to build a Can-Am car but he was always too busy selling single-seaters. It was not budget, just design time.

Is It fair to say that you didn’t enjoy sportscar racing? — David Smith, Peterborough

No, just didn’t get the opportunity.

At Nürburgring. August 6, 1961, you led from the start but skidded off at the first damp spot. What really happened? Did you wear different tyres front and rear? — John Daniels, via e-mail

Dunlop turned up with only six rain tyres and gave four to Moss and two fronts to me. This gave Moss an easy win, and at the first damp spot I went through the hedge backwards!

You took off your helmet only in the evening that day. Denis Jenkinson wrote that this was due to you being upset with somebody. With whom? — Alex Clark, Glasgow

Dick Jeffries was the competition manager at Dunlop and I did not consider it right to give Moss four tyres for the race, which gave him an unfair advantage. I only found out about this half an hour before the race and informed them that as I was the current World Champion surely I should have had the tyres. They advised me that they had only brought four fronts and two rears and that Stirling already had them fitted and was not about to take them off, so I should put the two fronts on. Neither of us had the opportunity to test them in practice, and Dick Jeffries claimed they only brought the tyres to evaluate them — which they could have done in practice, not the race. As history shows I very seldom lost control of my race cars, but this time when I hit the first wet patch of road I went backwards through the hedges as my front tyres had a lot more grip than the standard tyres on the back. There were plenty of places around the ‘Ring where that could have had fatal consequences, so I was not happy with Jeffries.

Was your new Coventry-Climax V8 really sick that day, as Rob Walker suggested? — Dr Josef Maier, Granada, Spain

Yes, it was losing water from blown head seals.

Hulme in1967, RIndt in ’68, Ickx In ’69, Stommelen in ’70, Schenken in ’71: you crushed five team-mates in five seasons, and all of them complained they were not given fair chances by ‘the boss’. Correct? — Burt Matthews, Truro

No, this is not correct.

When Tyrrell cars disappeared from the F1 grid in 1999, Ken Tyrrell said he didn’t care. Did you have the same attitude when Brabham folded in 1992? — Roger Richards, North London

Yes. I had no control over it.

Geoff, Gary and David all made fine racing careers except they didn’t make it in F1. Regrets? — Robert James. Littlehampton.


Who is the best among your sons: Geoff. Gary or David? Colin Samuels, via E-mail

Geoff has had the best results to date.

What did you feel when your son David was on the 1990 Monaco GP grid at the wheel of a Brabham BT59? — Simon Pugh, Manchester

It would be a special moment for any father.

You made a lot of race starts, proved to be very reliable and made few mistakes. So how do you feel when people keep talking about Monaco 1970 when you were pressured into a mistake on the last corner? — Adrian Campbell, Sydney

I should be allowed one mistake in 25 years. I haven’t got over it yet!

Some rivals used to criticise you for being on a different line every lap… Were you? — Nathaniel Smith, Crawley

I would not have had the success I enjoyed if that had been the case.

You were still competitive in 1970; was it difficult to retire at the end of that season? — Cara Meredith, Staffordshire

Yes, extremely. My retirement was due to family pressure. I promised to give it up at the end of 1969 and had a contract with Jochen Rindt to take my place at Watkins Glen (the second-last race of ’69). Colin Chapman offered him a lot more money to drive in 1970, so I had to drive as it was too late to get another driver. It was a very bad year — we lost Rindt, Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage.

Was your sideways driving style a safer way to approach the dangerous circuits of your era? — Martin Carr, Wallasey

Yes, in the early days. It stemmed from speedway racing.

You didn’t win in the 1.5-litre era. Was that because your style didn’t suit the low-power cars? — Patrick ‘Paddy’ Murphy, Wexford

No, I just never really had a good enough engine and the Climax V8 was disappointing.

Is Ron Tauranac the greatest ‘customer’ race car designer ever? — Rod Barrett, North Wales

Yes. Ron was a very practical engineer and built cars that were easy to maintain and did not fall apart. I sorted out the handling for him. The cars had a worldwide reputation and are still the most sought-after cars for historic racing today.

How much power did the Repco V8 have in 1966 — was it really as little as 320bhp? — Philip Pyne, Cambridge

Yes, at the first race, but it was 375bhp at the end of the season.

If Dan Gurney had stayed at Brabham for 1966 would you have stood down from driving duties and teamed him with Denny Hulme? — Christopher Rees, Bracknell. Berks.

Yes. I did not want to stand down in 1966, but got Denny to replace Dan and also needed Denny for the Formula Two Hondas.

After you split from the team did you still want Brabham cars to win? — Thomas Walker, Croydon


Mario Andretti drove a Brabam (sic) at Indy in 1965. Did that car have anything to do with you? — James Brown, Dover

No, nothing.

Was your Goodwood Revival shunt in the 3-litre Formula One race the biggest of your career? — Chris Sutton. via E-mail


Why did you accept the offer of an anonymous Ford Capri drive in the 1981 Spa 24 Hours? — Franky Hungenaert, Maaseik, Belgium

For fun.

You drove a Porsche 956 at Sandown in 1984; what was that like? — Catherine Sullivan, Shrewbury

Fantastic experience. It was the first modern sportscar I had driven.