Brabham spirit still vital for aspiring F1 stars
The “get after ’em” spirit personified by Sir Jack Brabham will be the key ingredient that Mark Larkham looks for in Australia’s next generation of talent when he opens his new motorsport academy later this year.
The former V8 Supercar driver aims to help guide young Australians from karting through to the top levels of racing via his upcoming Gold Coast-based Australian Motorsport Academy.
As a prelude to the program, the former V8 Supercars driver is this year managing rising star Anton De Pasquale, who has made the move to Formula Renault in Europe after winning the 2013 Australian Formula Ford Championship.
Once operational, Larkham says that his academy will provide tutelage to youngsters across all facets of the sport, including technical, commercial and media matters.
The academy will also focus on helping drivers and their families chart the best pathways through the fragmented international open-wheel scene.
While the current complexity of the motorsport industry has convinced Larkham that his academy can contribute greatly to the careers of youngsters, each will need to posses the same fundamental determination as Brabham in order to succeed.
“They do (need a lot of guidance) but I don’t believe the fundamental attitude required is any different,” Larkham told Speedcafe.com after attending Brabham’s state funeral service this week.
“It’s a much more complex sport and industry now, but beneath all of that, even if you’ve got all the right things around you and a bucket full of money, if you don’t have some of what Jack had, that absolute ‘get after ’em’ attitude, you’re not going anywhere.
“The commitment that is required, when you’re living on the other side of the world, is very, very big and you’ve got to have it buried deep in your psyche. Some have it, some don’t.”
Larkham hopes that the attention around Brabham following his death will bring the three-time world champion’s achievements further into the minds of the next-generation, and inspire them to head overseas.
“I think that a lot of our juniors probably haven’t appreciated what Jack did and achieved and this might just bring it to the front of their minds a little bit more,” he said.
“Jack’s achievements absolutely can be used as inspiration because even as recently as Daniel Ricciardo, it hasn’t just been a straight forward rise. He’s had to jump around the world and be a grafter.
“That’s what you have to do and Jack Brabham was the ultimate grafter, so he can provide real inspiration to those kids.
“He showed that it can be done and no young Australian should come through a successful stint in karting and not think that the world is his oyster.
“It’s absolutely do-able and there’s your inspiration.”
Larkham raced Formula Ford and Formula Brabham open-wheelers in Australia during the late 1980s and early 1990s, with his time in the latter class including brief forays overseas.
He competed full-time in V8 Supercars from 1995 to 2003, continuing to operate his own team until it folded three years later.
Larkham remains part of the V8 Supercars industry through his commentary role with V8TV, while he wound up his cattle farming activities at the weekend in order to focus on the upcoming academy.