Sir Jack Brabham remains the only man in history to have ever designed, built and raced his own championship-winning car. He is also the only man to have ever won the championship by pushing his car over the line, which saw him become 1959 champion – but that’s another story.
After a successful stint in Formula 1, Sir Jack’s team was sold; but now his family want to bring back the all-familiar race team; and bring back the illustrious name that is: Brabham. If one person can bring the name back to life, it’s the son of the three-time world champion, David. Getting help from outsiders like fans is a new, modern approach that may take some time. But despite the mammoth challenge that Project Brabham faces, within just seven weeks of the start-up the project raised £278,000 – more than the original target had set out – with donations coming from supporters of over 60 countries around the globe.
Autosport International was Project Brabham’s first public appearance where the team could truly showcase the project’s goals to the sports community. With the aim to include just about everybody, from fans to race drivers to business owners to engineers, the project fits the need of anyone wanting to be a part of something new and something different.
Speaking to David, he said: “I just felt that there was an opportunity for Brabham as a brand to come back into racing, but we’re going to do it differently. We’re going to open the door up completely. Lets give the fans a greater experience of motorsport with what goes on behind the scenes, but also for them to be engaged. So we’ll go to the community like we have already and say ‘hey look, we’re thinking of A, B, C and D, what’s your vote?’ so the community vote on it and then we move forward, but then we move forward together, not just our own little team moving forward to doing our thing.”
Several key ingredients of the project are waiting to be finalised, including Brabham-Digital which is effectively a fan portal of getting unrivalled team access. Brabham-Driver which helps drivers learn and grow and Brabham-Engineer aims to inspire the next generation of engineers.
In just a matter of months the project has transformed from an idea to reality. “The response from the media, the fans and people even within the industry has been great, they have said what a fantastic, refreshing, new idea it is going. Its been phenomenal since we started launching what we are doing, to where we are today.” David said.
Reaching Formula 1 is the ultimate goal, but David knows that may be far into the future and is just focusing on the small steps. He says that the next goal is to be racing in the World Endurance Championship in LMP2 and added: “In LMP2 we can go and buy a chassis and we can go racing. And, it’s on a world stage; we have 64 countries contributing to our campaign, so we really should be out in a world championship.
And the idea is to move then into LMP1, where things get a little more exciting because then we’ll start to develop our own car. But we’ll use a community of engineers from around the world to help develop that car.”
The big question is who will be driving for the team, but David was quick to say that there are no guarantees in terms of driver line-up. David’s son Sam, whose plans for the upcoming season are yet to be announced, jumped in and said: “I better be…”. Though all of the family in the team sounds like a dream, David remains level headed and explained: “All three Brabhams in the car, together, racing in a World Championship in Le Mans, it sounds great, but at the end of the day I have to put my team principal hat on and say, you know, is it going to work for us or not? And if it does, then great, if it doesn’t, then we’ll have to do something different, but there’s no guarantees at all in terms of driver line-up.”
It’s a long road from here with talks with more investors taking place, but the more fans that get on board the better. Brabham Digital is at the forefront where fans will be able to see what’s going on backstage at Project Brabham and by this time next year, the campaign may well be in full swing. “There’s a lot of work to be done” said David, “the main prospect is Brabham-Digital, because what we want to do is for our community and as we said, when we launched it, fans will get to see how we built this, you know, step by step so they’ll be able to log in on the website and be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes and contribute in ways that you can’t really do in today’s world of motorsport.” Project Brabham takes pride in engaging the fans it has and continues to build its foundations on the self-subscription model it has made work with great effect. He also added: “When we grow and learn and we get better, people can also share that journey with us and maybe they’ll learn something that they’ll be able to adapt into their own lives and make that a benefit.”
Images courtesy of Jakob Ebery
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