Brabham Motor Racing Developments
|Based in: Chessington (1962-89)|
Founded: 1961 (active 1962-1992)
Principal: Jack Brabham (1961-70), Bernie Ecclestone (1972-87), Joachim Luhti (1989), Middlebridge Group (1990-92)
Designers: Ron Tauranac (1962-1971), Ralph Bellamy (1972), Gordon Murray (1973-1974, 1976, 1978), David North (1979, 1981, 1983-1987), Sergio Rinland (1987, 1989-1990), Tim Densham (1991)
'Black' Jack Brabham has the unique distinction of being the only man to have won a world title driving a car of his own design. Having won back to back title for Cooper in 1959 and 1960 Brabham went home to Australia where he struck up a relationship with an aircraft engineer named Ron Tauranac.
They combined forces and moved to England where they set up Motor Racing Developments (MRD). The cars were orginally named MRDs until somebody pointed out that if spoken quickly enough it sounded like the French for 'shit'! As a result Brabham agreed to use his own name instead.
Success arrived in 1964 when Dan Gurney took the chequered flag in France and Mexico and although Lotus dominated the 1965 season Brabham was ready for the move to the 3-litre formula in 1966. Using engines built by the Australian Repco company Brabham scored his first win in his own car in France and went on to win his third world title and the constructors title.
1967 saw the success continue with Denny Hulme scoring the second driver and constructor titles for the marque. The following year was disappointing because despite signing the lightning quick Austrian, Jochen Rindt, the new Repco engines were never up to the task. A combination of failures led to Rindt quitting for Lotus at the end of the season.
At the start of the 1970 season Jack, now 44 years old, decided that this would be his last season. He got off to a good start by winning the season opener in South Africa in the BT33, Tauranac's first monocoque. A simple driver error allowed Rindt to sneak past on the very last corner in Monaco otherwise Jack would have won there as well. At the end of the season Jack retired leaving Tauranac to soldier on alone. He struggled in 1971 with Graham Hill and Tim Schenken as his drivers but with his friend and partner no longer involved his heart wasn't really in it and for 1972 the team passed into the hands of Bernie Ecclestone. Car design became the responsibility of Gordon Murray, one of Tauranac's recruits, and he certainly made his mark over the coming years.
Ecclestone retained the BT designation in deference to the teams founders and the BT44, despite being on the prettiest cars ever seen on a Grand Prix circuit, was also a potent machine. It won three races in 1974 with Carlos Reutemann at the wheel. For the next few years it appeared as if the glory days were firmly in the past as despite recruiting former world champion Niki Lauda the team struggled to compete against the dominant Ferrari's and Lotus's of the late 1970s. This was the age of ground effect and wing cars and Murray came up with a stunning answer to the brilliance of Lotus. He fitted a huge fan to the rear of the BT46 which sucked the car onto the track. The effect was incredible and the car won in its first outing at Anderstorp. It was promptly banned and the teams fortunes dipped once more.
In 1978 the Brazilian Nelson Piquet joined the team and managed to secure two title for Brabham in 1981 and 1983. His departure in 1985 prompted yet another decline and the team reached a low point in with the death of Elio de Angelis in a testing accident in May 1986. At the end of the following season Ecclestone withdrew the team from competition.
After a year out of the championship, the team was sold to the Swiss financier Joachim Luhti who ended up gaol on massive fraud charges. The marque continued its slow decline until closing in late 1992 while owned by the Middlebridge group. By this time the organisation was little more than an embarrassment to its former glory.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Brabham BT3||1962 - 1965|
|Brabham BT7||1963 - 1966|
|Brabham BT10||1964 - 1965|
|Brabham BT11||1964 - 1968|
|Brabham BT19||1966 - 1967|
|Brabham BT20||1966 - 1969|
|Brabham BT24||1967 - 1969|
|Brabham BT26||1968 - 1970|
|Brabham BT23C F2||1969|
|Brabham BT30 F2||1969|
|Brabham BT26A||1969 - 1971|
|Brabham BT33||1970 - 1972|
|Brabham BT34||1971 - 1972|
|Brabham BT37||1972 - 1973|
|Brabham BT42||1973 - 1974|
|Brabham BT44B||1975 - 1976|
|Brabham BT45||1976 - 1977|
|Brabham BT46B (46C)||1978|
|Brabham BT46||1978 - 1979|
|Brabham BT49||1979 - 1980|
|Brabham BT52 BMW||1983|
|Brabham BT54||1985 - 1986|
|Brabham BT58||1989 - 1990|