“Our own” Sir Jack

Source The Leader May 19, 2014

THE St George and Sutherland Shire community has lost another sporting legend in the space of eight days with the death of triple Formula One world racing champion, Sir Jack Brabham, 88, yesterday, Monday, on the Gold Coast.

Only last week the rugby league world mourned the death of Reg Gasnier, 75, on Sunday, May 11, one of the first of four original League Immortals, and champion St George Dragons player.

Jack Brabham was born on April, 2, 1926, and grew up in Laycock Road, Penshurst, the son of a greengrocer.

He went to Hurstville Boys High School and left school at 15 to work in a garage. He later lived in Sylvania for many years.

In a 1994 interview for the Sydney Morning Herald, Brabham said he came to motor-racing fame by a fairly circuitous route.

He first got behind the wheel of his father’s delivery van when he was 12, and enjoyed driving, but was not absolutely gripped by it.

‘‘Dad would let me drive the van when I was young, around places where there were no police, off-road and that sort of thing, but it wasn’t anything that I got carried away with,’’ Brabham said.

What he did throw himself into was fooling around with engines and the like.

‘‘When I first left school all I really wanted to be was a mechanic.’’

David Brabham@brabsracer

Thanks for all the kind messages about my fathers peaceful passing, it is appreciated by the whole family. http://www.brabham.co.uk/news/sir-jack-brabham-passes-away-peacefully-aged-88/ …3638:59 AM – May 19, 2014T

Brabham began racing cars in 1947 aged 21 — and rest is history.

His career and life included 14 Grand Prix victories, 13 pole positions and he contested 126 Grand Prix from in 1955 to 1970.

He won the first of his three Formula One championships in 1959, famously running out of fuel in the last race and pushing his car to the finish.

He became Australian of the Year in 1966, was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1967, retired in 1970, was knighted for his services to motorsport in 1979 and was named a National Treasure in 2012.

His friend Patrick Wedes, who along with his wife Debbie knew Sir Jack since 1993, said the world had lost an incredible person.

Mr Wedes and Debbie run The Motorsport Shop at South Hurstville, specialising in racing memorabilia and merchandise for V8 Supercars, Grand Prix, Formula One and MotoGP enthusiasts.

‘‘Sir Jack was a very humble man,’’ Mr Wedes told the Leader from France.

Watch: Sir Jack Brabham – Life Reflection

‘‘Sir Jack built his own cars and he was very passionate about motorsport and very passionate about open wheel racing.

 ‘‘I first met him in 1993 when he came into my shop at South Hurstville. I closed the doors and sat with him and we talked for hours.

‘‘I remember there was a book at Hurstville Library about the history of Hurstville and I got a copy of it and Sir Jack signed it for me,’’ Mr Wedes said.Wedes sells replicas of racing helmets Brabham wore in his racing days, under licence at his South Hurstville shop. Last year he flew to the Gold Coast to show Brabham the finished helmet and the great driver and racer gave it the thumbs up.

The principal of the school Brabham attended (now known as Georges River College Hurstville Boys Campus), Leanne Larcombe, said the school was saddened to hear the news. ‘‘The students and staff of Hurstville Boys Campus are very proud of his achievements and we celebrated as a school in 2012 when he was named an Australian National Living Treasure [an exceptional Australian with substantial and enduring accomplishments in their field],’’ Ms Larcombe said.

‘‘Sir Jack Brabham has been a wonderful role model for our students who aspire to work to be the best in whatever they do, to be world class.’’

‘‘With accolades as numerous as his accomplishments, the 1959, 1960 and 1966 Formula One world champion and 1966 Australian of the Year lent his name to schools, streets and suburbs across both Australia and the globe.

‘‘Sir Jack, who had been the world’s oldest surviving Formula One race winner and world champion, became the first man in history to be knighted for services to motorsport and, in 2012, was named our country’s National Living Treasure.

‘The words “sporting legend” cannot even begin to describe the profound contribution which Sir Jack Brabham made to Hurstville, Australia and world of motorsport,’’ she said.