Gentleman Jack




Congratulations on an excellent May issue. I Particularly enjoyed the two Brabham articles. As a boy in the 1960s I was lucky enough to see the great Australian race several times, both in F1 and F2. I didn’t get to a championship Grand Prix though until 1970, Jack’s final season, but what an impression he made on this 12-year old. At Brands he harried Rindt’s Lotus for lap after lap, took advantage of an error, and disappeared into the distance. Where did a man of 44 find that pace and stamina? The driving was fast and nine points would have avenged the slip up at Monte Carlo.

But, as we know now, 1970 was not lucky for Black Jack. I’ll never forget standing at Clearways on that final lap as Rindt appeared, to be followed by Brabham coasting having run out of fuel. The shocked crowd willed the silent BT33 to the finish. It did, but second place was scant consolation.

Earlier that year I had seen him drive sportscars for Matra in the BOAC 1000km, again at Brands. Walking around the wet paddock, I noticed him collecting his belongings and I wondered whether to ask for his autograph. Fascinated, I watched him carefully pack two small holdalls, tuck some papers under one arm, hook a helmet over the other, pick up his bags and set off up the hill. With poor timing I moved forward. “Excuse me, Mr Brabham, could I have your autograph please?” He looked at me, sighed and smiled. He put down his bags and papers, took my pen and signed my programme. I still have it. Thanks Sir Jack; a racer and a gentleman.

I am, yours, etc. John Winfield, Orston, Notts.