David Brabham Opens Sir Jack's 50th Anniversary Celebrations At Sebring Ahead Of Acura P1 Debut
David Brabham, the youngest son of three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jack, will help start the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of his father's first F1 title in style at the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. The 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, on 21-22 March, will not only mark David's return to the ALMS LMP1 category in the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura, but will also see a Brabham climb back into the racing seat of Jack's 1959 championship-winning Cooper-Climax.
Jack Brabham is one of the most accomplished -- and colourful - racing drivers in the history of motorsport. Now aged 82, he was the winner of three F1 world titles (in 1959, 1960 and 1966), the only driver to be crowned champion in a car of his own construction and the first F1 driver to be awarded a knighthood, undoubtedly earning him the privilege to be described as one of the true legends of the sport.
Florida's Sebring International Raceway has special significance as the venue where Jack captured his first F1 crown. On 12 December 1959, the legendary Australian literally pushed his Cooper-Climax T51 across the finishing line after it ran out of fuel, to finish fourth and become the first Australian F1 champion, beating Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks.
Half a century on, David will mark the start of the 50th anniversary celebrations by conducting parade laps in his father's 1959 championship-winning Cooper-Climax prior to the 12-hour race on Saturday. Now owned by Mrs Joel Finn, the car is being specially transported to the event courtesy of Patron Highcroft team principal Duncan Dayton, giving thousands of racing fans the chance to join in the festivities.
"To be given the opportunity to drive my father's 1959 F1 championship-winning Cooper at the circuit where he captured the title by literally pushing the car across the line, is incredible," said David. "It will be amazing to recapture that moment in motorsport history, and it will be a dream come true for me and a great moment for the entire family as well as the fans, some of who will remember the race itself. Duncan [Dayton] is a huge fan of my father's and I know he will be really chuffed to see the car in action with me at the wheel, but when I go to get in the car, I might just find Duncan already in the seat! My huge thanks go to the owner, Mrs Joel Finn, and to Duncan and the Patron Highcroft team for making this even possible."
All three of Jack's sons, Geoff, Gary and David, have enjoyed success at the highest echelons of motorsport. As one of Australia's most successful drivers ever, David's illustrious career stretches from karting via British F3 to F1, and across all forms of motorsport worldwide. The 43-year old British-born Australian, who lives in Henley-on-Thames in the UK, is renowned as one of the world's leading sportscar racers and has created his own powerful legacy fitting of the Brabham name.
Twice winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 class for Aston Martin, David is also the only driver to boast pole positions and wins in each of the four ALMS classes. Capturing four victories for Patron Highcroft Racing in the LMP2 Acura, David narrowly missed out on seizing the P2 class spoils with team-mate Scott Sharp last season, but was voted 'Most Popular Driver' by ALMS fans and Motors TV viewers and was a first team choice from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.
After a stellar 2008, David returns to ALMS for his 11th season in 2009, rekindling the successful partnership with Sharp as the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura embarks on its first LMP1 race at the prestigious Sebring event. Joining the winning Brabham-Sharp combination for the car's first outing will be 2007 IndyCar Series Champion and Indy 500 victor Dario Franchitti.
"Last year with Patron Highcroft Racing was amazing, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and potentially better," continues Brabs. "I'm delighted to rejoin the team as we embark on the Acura P1 campaign this season. It's a really exciting programme to which we are all committed and, after all of the pre-season testing, we are looking forward to getting the first race underway at Sebring.
"On a personal note, it's great for me to return to P1 in the ALMS while I will also be driving for Peugeot Sport in the Spa 1,000 kilometres and Le Mans 24 Hours, which I hope will give me the opportunity to take overall victory after winning the GT1 class for the past two years. But firstly, my focus is on Sebring and I couldn't think of a better way to start the year by opening my father's 50th anniversary celebrations while undertaking my first race in P1 with Patron Highcroft and Acura. Sebring is going to be a truly special event."
For the latest American Le Mans Series news visit www.americanlemans.com and for the provisional 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, presented by Fresh from Florida, schedule visit www.sebringraceway.com