FEATURE: Sir Jack Brabham’s life reflections Part 3
Speedcafe.com celebrates the extraordinary life of Sir Jack Brabham by publishing the legend’s last major sit-down interview in full for the first time.
Part 3 touches on his near misses at Indianapolis and the Portuguese Grand Prix as well as the time when it was suggested he would drive Donald Campbell’s Bluebird at a land-speed record attempt in 1964.
The following are excerpts and video from the four-part interview between Sir Jack and Speedcafe.com editor-in-chief Gordon Lomas.
DONALD CAMPBELL’S BLUEBIRD
The following are excerpts of the last major face-to-face interview with Sir Jack Brabham who spoke with Speedcafe.com editor-in-chief Gordon Lomas last year.
Malcolm (Donald) Campbell was attempting the land-speed record at Lake Eyre (1964) and he was doing a lot of fumbling around and the weather was never right.
And the sponsors of the car in England were getting a bit fed up so they decided they would invite me to drive the car.
What the idea was if I said I’d drive the car they (sponsors) were pretty sure that Malcolm (Donald) would get in the car and do it and that’s exactly what happened.
I had to ring my parents and tell them that I’d been invited to drive this car and it was all publicity over Australia but I wasn’t really going to do it.
And of course it wasn’t long before Malcolm (Donald) Campbell got in the car and won the land-speed record.
ALMOST RUN OVER BY MASTEN GREGORY
During the 1959 Portuguese GP I was having a dice with Stirling Moss and was right up his exhaust pipe and as we were going down the straight we passed another driver who didn’t see me.
He swung in to go behind Stirling and (in the process) knocked me straight off the circuit over the straw bales and I hit a telegraph post which stopped me from going down a gully which had trees at the bottom.
So that was one thing that saved me.
The other thing that saved me was I didn’t have a seatbelt.
The car ricocheted off the post and went back outside down and I fell out onto the track.
So two things saved me – I hit a telegraph post and two I didn’t have a seatbelt.
I sat up on the track and looked down and Masten Gregory was coming towards me at about 100mph (160km/h) and I rolled out of the way.
Masten went straight past and only just missed me.
Anyway I saw him later on in the pits and I said ‘hey Masten I thought you were going to run me over, didn’t you see me on the circuit?’.
He said ‘yes but all I saw was the wires across the road when the post got knocked over and I took my feet and hands off everything in case I got electrocuted.
NEAR MISS AT INDIANAPOLIS 500 IN 1964
Masten Gregory had warned me about a car before the race.
This chap (Dave McDonald) finished up two rows in front of me on the grid and when the race started I was only interested in watching this bloke because there was going to be an accident and this bloke wasn’t going to be able to cope with it.
Anyway he (McDonald) made the first lap but he certainly didn’t make the second lap.
He crashed into the fence on the inside and the car went from the inside to the outside and (there was) a wall of fire an absolute wall of fire and he crashed into the fence on the outside.
And the chap immediately in front of me, Eddie Sachs, unfortunately he couldn’t stop and he crashed into the car that was on the fence.
Because Masten had warned me I had sufficient time to be able to slow the car down enough to be able to turn left and went through the fire at right angles and I just missed the wrecks.
I was extremely lucky really because if Masten hadn’t warned me I probably would have been #3.
Both McDonald and Eddie Sachs were killed.
PART 4: Tomorrow Sir Jack recounts his extraordinary escapes in aeroplanes and when he smuggled Jim Clark out of Italy in his plane
SEE BELOW FOR PART 3 OF SPEEDCAFE.COM’S SIR JACK BRABHAM INTERVIEW