First, apologies for the late response to the excellent articles regarding Sir Jack Brabham and the Brabham team in the May issue of MOTOR SPORT.
Sir Jack was my boyhood hero, pictures of him adoring my bedroom at school and at home. Every week I wrote to him and once in a while I received a reply and signed photograph.
In 1963 my parents moved to West Byfleet, near to where Sir Jack had his team. The first day of my summer holiday saw me perched outside the workshop until someone invited me in, and the rest is history. For the rest of my holiday I worked with the team cars and in Motor Racing Development with the Formula cars. Persuading my parents that becoming Sir Jack’s mechanic held a far better future than being Prime Minister, they reluctantly conceded, and I left school on December 18th 1963, starting as an apprentice on December 19th.
Tough but wonderful days. Many of the great drivers spent their early careers at Brabhams and I was able to accompany them to a whole variety of race weekends with F1, F2, Formula Libre and Sports Cars. From 1968 until Sir Jack retired I was a mechanic on his car; his chief mechanic has since become an important and successful F1 team owner.
Travelling everywhere with the cars, the small Brabham team became a fraternity, but during that period one never actually got to know Sir Jack. He frequently worked on his car but said little, except to Ron Tauranac who was always seeking improvements. We could spend hours in each other’s company without so much as a conversation, but this simply didn’t matter because Sir Jack was quiet, unassuming and totally committed to his team.
The 1970 season was a swan-song year. Sir Jack loved the BT33 and he showed many young lions of the day a thing or two. I regret to admit it was probably me who failed to put enough fuel in his car at the British Grand Prix, but as on other occasions when I, or other mechanics, made stupid mistakes he never admonished us, either publicly or privately. Neither did we say anything that would criticise him when he made a mistake such as that last Monaco. The respect we had for each other was mutual, silent and sufficient.
I left Brabhams in 1974 to join Penske. They were wonderful days for a young man, and I was so fortunate to be given an opportunity. I did not see Sir Jack again until Surfers Paradise in 1993, but since then we have become firm friends, frequently reliving those ‘silent’ days. His 1959/60 Championship helmet lives in my office, one of my proudest possessions, as is the photograph of us both at the 1998 Festival of A very great man, a perfect role model and now a friend. Thank you for helping me to relive a golden age.
I am, yours, etc. Nick Goozee, Penske Cars, Poole, Dorset