Sometimes in your life, you’re lucky enough to meet a boyhood hero. Today, for obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking of how lucky I was to spend a little time with Sir Jack Brabham. In my time as a marketing manager, which is not to suggest we were great mates, just that I had the honour to have that precious time with him.
I put him in an RX7 for a Classic Rally – I took the pic at Kings Park, later, I took him out to the Holmes A Court car collection at the Heytsbury Stud – I took this photo of him with Robert Holmes a Court’s favourite car. A year or two on, I put Sir Jack in a Jaguar XK8 for another Classic Rally – I took that photo out at the Gingin air force strip and then, in what was a very emotional moment for a lot of fellow car enthusiasts, I took Jack as a surprise guest to a Jaguar Car Club meeting here in Perth – there was a standing ovation as he walked up the front and I think there were more than a couple of blokes near tears to finally meet our shared hero.
I did have another incredible moment, there was a Ferrari Drive Day out at Barbagallo Raceway, Jack was due to fly back home to the Gold Coast that afternoon, I asked him if he wanted to go out and have a look at the race track before he flew out, he did. At the track, he looked at all the Ferraris and said, “The enemy!” (he was taciturn!), then as we walked along pit lane, one of the cars had a small fire in the engine bay, he smiled and said “Good. You know Ferrari fans used to boo and jeer me in Europe, this is good!”
We had a race spec Ferrari at the track and I asked him if he wanted to have a drive,”You know,” he said,”I’ve never driven one.” I gave him the keys. Out he went. The word got around very quickly that Jack Brabham was out on the track in a Ferrari, everybody stopped to watch and listen. After several laps, he pulled up and I asked him what he thought. “Jump in,” he ordered. Was I going to turn down the chance to go with Sir Jack in a Ferrari? NO! As we came down the long straight into turn seven (the final turn, he slapped on my leg and said, “You ready son?”
“Go you good thing go!” I yelled out. He bloody did.
Vale and God speed Jack.