Vale Sir Jack Brabham AO OBE
The National Australia Day Council was today saddened to hear of the passing of Australian of the Year 1966, Sir John 'Jack' Brabham AO OBE.
Jack was the first and only individual to win Formula One World Drivers and Constructors titles in the same year(1966)- he won 14 Grand Prixs; won the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 1959, 1960, 1966; and was the Formula One Constructors Champion in 1966 and 1967.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of his passion, commitment and determination came with his first Formula One World Championship in 1959. leading in the last lap of the race, he ran out of petrol and stopped just 100 metres from the finish line. He got out of the car and began to push it towards the finish line. As he would have been disqualified if he had any assistance, his team closed in around him but did not touch Jack or the car. He pushed the car over the line and finished in fourth place - enough to give him the Championship title.
When Brabham was told in 1967 he was selected as the Australian of the Year, he modestly responded it was 'a complete surprise'. Based in England at the time, he missed out on the official Award luncheon in Melbourne and was represented by his father. Sir Jack did, however, attend the gala dinner celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Australian of the Year Awards held in Canberra in 2010, accompanied by his wife Lady Margaret Brabham.
He was known as a gentleman and acted as a mentor to young drivers over the years. A quiet man off the track, his competitive nature turned on as soon as the engine turned over.
Sir Jack will be remembered as a great Australian achiever, a pioneer in motor sport and motoring engineering and man of modest values but steely determination.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Sir Jack Brabham.