April 2, 1926 - May 19, 2014
Born in Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia.
He was a founder of the Brabham racing team and race car constructor that bore his name. He was Formula One champion in 1959, 1960, and 1966.
Brabham was a Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic and ran a small engineering workshop before he started racing midget cars in 1948. His successes with midgets in Australian and New Zealand road racing events led to his going to the United Kingdom to further his racing career. There he became part of the Cooper Car Company's racing team, building as well as racing cars. He contributed to the design of the mid-engined cars that Cooper introduced to Formula One and the Indianapolis 500, and won the Formula One world championship in 1959 and 1960. In 1962 he established his own Brabham marque with fellow Australian Ron Tauranac, which became the largest manufacturer of customer racing cars in the world in the 1960s. In 1966 Brabham became the first – and still the only – man to win the Formula One world championship driving one of his own cars.
Brabham retired to Australia after the 1970 Formula One season, where he bought a farm and maintained business interests, which included the Engine Developments racing engine manufacturer and several garages.
Brabham was the father of three sons, Geoff, Gary, and David. All three became involved in motorsport, with support from Brabham in their early years. Between them, they have won sportscar and single-seater races and championships. Geoff was an Indycar and sportscar racer who won five North American sportscar championships as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while David competed in Formula One for the Brabham team and has also won the Le Mans race as well as three Japanese and North American sportscar titles. Gary also drove briefly in Formula One, although his F1 career consisted of two DNPQ's for the Life team. Brabham's grandson Matthew (son of Geoff) graduated from karts in 2010 and races in the Victorian Formula Ford Championship. Another grandson, David's son Sam Brabham, stepped up to car racing from karts in 2013 when he made his debut in the British Formula Ford Championship.
Brabham died at his home on the Gold Coast on May 19, 2014, aged 88, following a lengthy battle with kidney or liver disease. In a statement on the family's website, Brabham's son David confirmed his father's death.
"It's a very sad day for all of us," David Brabham stated. "My father passed away peacefully at home at the age of 88 this morning. He lived an incredible life, achieving more than anyone would ever dream of and he will continue to live on through the astounding legacy he leaves behind."
Among his honours and awards; Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1966), Australian of the Year (1966), Knight Bachelor (1979), Inductee, Sport Australia Hall of Fame (1985, elevated to Legend status in 2003), Australian Sports Medal (2000), Centenary Medal (2001), Officer of the Order of Australia (2008), Inductee, Australian Speedway Hall of Fame (2011) and named a National Living Treasure (2012).