‘Brabham Indycar blow-up was probably my fault…’

Bill Boddy and Jenks used to run a favourite little item in these pages entitled ‘The Things They Say’, in which they took a kind of school swot delight in pointing out the errors in other publications. They also ran another section headed ‘Pity the Poor Historian’, detailing some of the misinformation assailing even those of the school swot persuasion.

In respect of which, yes dear reader – here’s yet more 40-year-old news on the saga of Peter Revson’s blown-apart Indy Brabham BT25. You may recall we told the tale here in the October and December issues, beginning with Brabham designer Ron Tauranac’s recollection that the USAC tech inspectors at Indy had blown one of his monocoques apart by sparking fuel vapours that had accumulated within it overnight. Then last month team mechanic Nick Goozee recalled repairing the damage, absolving the Americans from blame and advising that it had been the team mechanics themselves.

Now Ron has sent me this from Indy Brabham works mechanic Norm Wilson: “Regarding the Indycar blow-up… Reckon it was pretty much my fault.

“Came in one morning, Don Halpin was checking the valve clearances but could only turn the engine a bit at a time (screwdriver in the ring gear teeth or the hard-to-get-at nut on the front of the crank…).

“I asked the question, ‘why not use the starter?’ Don said ‘good idea’ and I thought no more about it, until there was a loud explosion. Apparently there was a fuel filler or a fuel line open.

“My main memory of the event was the absolutely incredible speed of Jack [Brabham], from the back of the garage to the side of the car, complete with fire extinguisher he picked up somewhere, all in a fraction of a second. One of the rare times where you are able to see a completely different person to the one you thought you knew!

“Peter Revson, a great bloke. On most mornings (when Jack wasn’t about) we did battle over the crossword in the Indy local paper, good company…”

There you go, more on a sidelight of Indy/Brabham history than perhaps you knew we didn’t know.