David Brabham: My life in cars

A career that began drifting a pick-up on dirt roads, led to victory in a Jaguar XJR-14

David Brabham headshot

Grand Prix Photo

My family car as a child…

The first family cars I remember were a Ford Falcon and a Ford Fairlane. My father had a Ford dealership in Bankstown in Sydney. He was a practical man and his cars reflected that. My brother had a Ford Escort 2000 and I wish I had that car now.

Holden Kingswood

My first road car…

Was a Holden Kingswood ute, above, a great car for drifting on the dirt roads on the farm where I learnt how to throw a car around and that taught me about grip and balance. I really pushed the limits and have no idea how I didn’t kill myself.

I was hooked on motor racing when…

I was 17 and went to America with my brother Geoff who was racing in IndyCar. I saw a kart in a workshop and I didn’t even know people raced them. After three months holding Geoff’s helmet and listening to his team meetings I was inspired to start racing myself.

My first ever win was…

At the Griffith kart track in New South Wales in the Country Titles. I was racing Class Australia 100cc sprint karts and just a year earlier I’d been to this very event as a spectator, and that was the first race I ever saw.

Jaguar XJR-14, at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed

Brabham was reunited with his favourite car, the Jaguar XJR-14, at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed

CJM Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

The win I remember the most was…

The win I treasure most is the Australian Gold Star support race at the Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1987. I went from 35th to first in 15 laps after a huge blow-up with my father, which triggered something inside me and took me to a different level. I think that win convinced my father I had what it takes despite his reservations after I told him my girlfriend was pregnant.

My favourite racing car is…

The TWR Jaguar XJR-14. That car would have made the top 10 of a Formula 1 grid. Tom Walkinshaw only had three drivers for two cars in the WEC in 1991 so I drove both cars in the same race. My first race was at the Nürburgring where I managed to come first and second which was pretty cool. The Jaguar was the most impressive car I ever raced and it felt just as good when I drove it at Goodwood Festival this year.

If I could race in any era…

It would be the 1980s. The Formula 1 cars and sports cars of that era were mega and it was when I got interested in racing. I just love watching these cars at historic events.

If I could take part in one more big race it would be…

The Indy 500. My father, Jack, left, at the Brickyard in 1964, brother and nephew all did that race and I think my style and sensitivity to the car would have been good for me. And… it’s one of racing’s biggest prizes.

David Brabham on Track

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was…

My father said – with that famous grin on his face – “David, if you want to go quicker use less brake and more throttle.” I was also told, “if you want to know your future, just look at yourself in the mirror”.


Sprint Race

Lewis or Max?

Senna or Prost?

Oversteer or understeer?

Brands Hatch or Silverstone?
Brands Hatch.