Jack Brabham was not just a three-time World Champion and a driving master, he was also an engineering genius. He helped develop rear-engined Coopers, which led to his first two championships and also proved that front-engine Formula One cars were obsolete.
John Arthur ‘Jack’ Brabham was the son of a greengrocer and from an extremely early age, he was less interested in the fruits and vegetables at his father’s shop than the delivery vehicles which carried them till there. Before he could apply for a license, he was driving the delivery vehicles around and, very ably, maintaining their road worthiness as well. He easily got into a technical college and studied practical engineering. At 18, he was now part of the Royal Australian Air Force. Although his wish was to fly but he mainly stayed back on the ground and trained to fill the huge shortage of mechanics during the Second World War.
In 1946, Brabham was discharged and with the help of an uncle, he set up a engineering workshop in Sydney. Jack got married and had three sons, each of whom would go onto race like their father although none of them would ever be able to attain the heights that Jack would. His affair with motorsports began as a builder. He built a midget car for a friend who raced regularly on dirt tracks. Once the friend stopped driving, Jack decided that he would give it a shot and he did. Slowly, he became a regular winner at it. Making his own midgets, Jack won the Australian Championships an incredible four consecutive times. He was also the 1953 HillClimb champion where he drove a Cooper-Bristol. In 1955, Jack came to England to expand his experience in the sport.
In England, Jack met the owner of Cooper automobiles, Charles Cooper. This friendship was soon to launch Cooper into the history books of Formula One and “Black-Jack” Brabham was to become one of the greatest ever to grace the sport.
Brabham persuaded Cooper to adopt the rear-end technique in their Formula One cars and personally built the first chassis in the Cooper Workshop. Brabham’s team, with their rear-engine tiny monsters, began to upstage the big, front-engine Italian and German cars. In 1958, Stirling Moss got the first win for Cooper in Rob Walker’s private entry to the Argentine Grand Prix. The debut of the car had been a success and in 1959, things became even better as Moss won twice and so did Brabham. But Brabham was higher in rankings in the other races and that was enough to ensure that he had his first World Formula One title.