March 11, 2009
Sir Jack and David Brabham. Patrón Highcroft Racing's David Brabham is set to follow in his father's footsteps - 50 years after an exhausted Sir Jack Brabham pushed his Cooper Climax across the finish line at the 1959 Grand Prix of The United States to win his first Formula 1 World Championship.At the first and only running of the U.S. Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway, Sir Jack ran out of fuel with a 1/2 mile to go while leading the race and had to push the car across the finish line to grab fourth place and claim the first of his three Formula 1 World Championships. Entering the 1959 Sebring race leading the World Championship, Sir Jack qualified second fastest and led most of the race after his title rivals Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss struck trouble. However, on the final lap, he ran out of fuel and had to push the car across the finish line as teammate Bruce McLaren took the victory in the first ever Formula 1 World Championship event held on US soil. "The track at Sebring was unbelievably rough when I drove there in 1959 and I was very pleased that I was driving a Cooper which was a very strong car," Sir Jack said. "But, to run out of fuel was very frustrating especially about half a mile from the finish line. "I pushed the car to the finish line and as you can see from the photos I was really exhausted. My crew had to make sure no one helped me as I would have been disqualified. "I'm afraid David will get a shock driving the car particularly with the small tyres etc. It will not be like anything he has driven before but at least it won't fall apart on the bumps."The youngest of the three racing Brabham sons, David is now set to swap his Acura ARX-02a LMP1 prototype for the Cooper Climax T51 that his father famously used to clinch his first world title. David will conduct a series of parade laps prior to the commencement of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21 - the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series and the debut race for the new Acura prototype in the LMP1 class.The Sebring event will be the first time that David has climbed aboard one of his father's cars. After winning the World Championship in 1959, Sir Jack Brabham repeated the performance in 1960, again with Coooper. He then became the first and only driver to win the world crown in car bearing his own name when he took his third title in 1966 aboard his Brabham BT19."It is a bit of a lifetime experience for me because I have never driven one of Dad's cars. It is such a unique opportunity, not only to drive one of his cars, but also to do it at the track 50 years after he won his first Formula 1 World Championship," David said. "It is quite unbelievable and I really have to thank the Cooper's owner Ann Finn and her husband Joel for keeping the car in great condition and allowing me the chance to drive it at Sebring. "It was interesting to hear Dad's comment that the Sebring track was unbelievably rough - 50 years later, nothing has changed! I am probably expecting a bit of a smoother ride in the old car as it has a lot more suspension travel than my Acura."Sir Jack's original 1959 Cooper Climax remains in very original condition and has continued on its winning ways with Joel Finn scoring numerous historic competition victories in the 70s, 80s and 90s. "This really is a great car and in almost completely original condition," Finn said. "Sir Jack raced the car in the Tasman Series in Australia and New Zealand at the end of the season in 1959 and I purchased the car from the next owner in Australia in 1965. It still has a little bit of accident damage that Jack put on the car in practice at the Sebring event. "It still has the original chassis, body, wheels, radiator and the leather covered steering wheel that were on it when Sir Jack last drove it. David is certainly going to be surprised, these old cars certainly do take a lot of getting used to by drivers who grew up piloting modern cars." Not only does the Finn family possess a unique piece of history from the first ever Formula 1 World Championship race held in the US, Joel Finn also wrote about it, authoring "Sunshine, Speed and a Surprise-The 1959 Grand Prix of The United States at Sebring" in 2006. Copies of the book will be available at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
(Photos courtesy of Patron Highcroft Racing)
Sir Jack Brabham pushes his Cooper Climax T51 across the finish line at Sebring International Raceway in 1959. He would claim the first of his three Formula 1 World Championships with his fourth place finish.
The starting grid at the first and only running of the U.S. Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway in 1959. Sir Jack Brabham can be seen in this photo climbing into his car in the middle of the front row, after qualifying second.
Sir Jack Brabham sits - exhausted - after pushing his car to a fourth place finish at Sebring in 1959.
BMW of North America, BimmerWorld/GearWrench Racing. BMW will join the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine in 2009. BMW joins competitors American Honda, Mazda North America and Volkswagen of America, Inc. as sponsors of the racing series. “BMW is happy to be back as a SPEED World Challenge sponsor to support BMW drivers in the very competitive Touring Car class,” said Larry Koch, M Brand Manager for BMW of North America, LLC. “World Challenge racing is always exciting and gives BMW a wonderful stage to showcase the strengths of the 3 Series platform.” Last year James Clay scored BMW’s 49th World Challenge victory, putting the marque in third place for all-time World Challenge manufacturer class wins. BMW has won three SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championships, the last being in 2004. Carrying the torch once again for BMW will be Dublin, Virginia's BimmerWorld / GearWrench Racing. The BMW E90 team will have all three drivers returning for its run at the Touring Car Championship, with team owner/driver James Clay joined again by series veterans Seth Thomas and Nick Esayian. The 2009 World Challenge Touring Car Championship begins at the Toyo Tires SPEED World Challenge Season Opener at Sebring, March 18-20.
James Clay scored a victory for BMW at the famed Road America circuit last season.
(Photo©2009, autostock, USA Brian Czobat)
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Aflac Ford) started 29th and finished 3rd last Sunday in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the big news was Kurt Busch (No 2. Penske Championship Racing Miller Lite Dodge) - not younger brother Kyle - and his dominant win. Busch led 164 laps on the 1.54-mile oval. Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports DuPont Chevrolet) finished second to keep his points lead. The other big news of the weekend? The Atlanta Motor Speedway's grandstands were about 1/3 empty, something the Fox Sports TV production couldn't hide. Despite promotions with heavily discounted tickets, Atlanta couldn't draw a full house. It's clear now that the economy - and the lackluster on-track shows that define the "CoT" era - are really hurting NASCAR.
Audi has unveiled its new R15 TDI prototype which will debut at Sebring on March 21. Featuring a newly developed V10 TDI engine producing more than 600 hp, with a maximum torque output in excess of 1,050 Newton meters, the R15 is more compact and lighter than the R10 TDI which used a 12-cylinder engine. The R15's V10 reflects the latest version of Audi's TDI Technology and is said to be cleaner, greener and faster. Audi is using the 12 Hours of Sebring as a live test of the R15 TDI in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Audi has taken LMP1 victories at Sebring International Raceway every year since its first race there in 2000. It also won every Sebring race overall from 2000-2007. In 2006, Audi unveiled its R10 TDI that won its first time out at Sebring. Since that time, the R10 TDI is unbeaten at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.
AT&T Real Yellow Pages will be the presenting sponsor of the Centennial Era Balloon Festival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Balloon Festival will kick-off the first season of competitive events during the Speedway’s three-year Centennial Era – honoring the 100th birthday of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011. The first competitive event of any kind at IMS was a gas-filled balloon race on June 5, 1909, a full two months before the famed 2.5-mile IMS oval was completed. The AT&T Real Yellow Pages Balloon and other entries are scheduled to participate in three ascensions and two evening “glows” May 1-3, with all activities taking place or originating within the vast IMS infield.
Mecum Auction will offer collectors a chance to own a piece of American racing history when they auction the 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX2601 at the 22nd Dana Mecum Original Spring Classic Auction taking place May 13-17, 2009, in Indianapolis, Ind. The 1965 Shelby Cobra Coupe was one of six cars built by Carroll Shelby to compete against Ferrari in the F.I.A. (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) World Manufacturers Championship GT class. The coupe body was of course designed by Pete Brock and built on an existing Cobra chassis, immediately increasing the top speed by 25 mph (and also improving the on-track fuel mileage significantly). That car won its first race - the 1964 Daytona Continental (prompting Shelby to adopt the name) - and five more coupes were built, including CSX2601. After competing at Daytona, Monza, Spa and Nurburgring, CSX2601 made history when it clinched the 1965 World Manufacturers Championship for the United States and Shelby American on July 4 in Reims, France. Driving the car - and America - to victory on that fateful July afternoon was legendary driver Bob Bondurant. "I won a lot of races with this Daytona Cobra Coupe, but when I crossed the finish line at the Reims race track I yelled 'Yes!' It was a fantastic feeling," Bondurant said. "I always wanted to race in Europe against the world's best drivers. Winning that World Championship was the crowning achievement of my career. I think it's wonderful that the car is being showcased 40 years later." This particular Cobra Daytona Coupe didn't just race, however. At one point, a North Dakota businessman with six gas stations owned the car, and each day he'd drive the 300-mile round trip to collect station receipts in this famous race-trimmed Cobra. "This car is a true slice of Americana, representing a different time in America's past when driving a full-blown race car on the roads didn't turn heads," added Dana Mecum, president, Mecum Auction. The Daytona was also leased to Paramount Pictures for use in the Howard Hawks cult classic "Redline 7000." Now fully restored and wearing its famous Reims livery, the Shelby Daytona Cobra CSX2601 headlines the Original Spring Classic Auction, which is expected to feature 1,250 vehicles. Mecum anticipates the championship- winning Cobra Daytona Coupe to garner the highest bid ever paid at public auction for an American automobile - eight figures and counting. The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe will be sold on live national TV Friday, May 15, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. during the company's series, "Mecum Auto Auction: Muscle Cars & More," on Discovery Communications' popular HD Theater. Consignment, Bidder, event and accommodation information is available online at www.Mecum.com or by calling 815.568.8888.