“In fact, I built my first car in Australia myself, so creating my own racing team can be called a return to basics,” - Sir Jack Brabham.
While still a racer of the Cooper team, with which he won two championship titles, Black Jack, together with his Australian friend and like-minded person Ron Toranac, created Motor Racing Development, which was engaged in tuning Triumph Herald and Hillman Imp cars, and later - building racing cars for younger formulas. In 1962, Brabham cars (the chassis received the name of its creator, since the abbreviation MRD was not sound in French) first appeared on the Formula 1 tracks. The success came pretty quickly - several podiums in 1963 allowed Brabham to take third place in the constructors' championship, ahead of Ferrari and the team of its recent employers Cooper, and the following season Dan Gurney won two victories, driving the Brabham BT7. Two years later, the name of the Brabham chassis was inscribed in the history of Formula 1 in gold letters.
In 1966, Formula 1 was preparing for the transition to a new regulation - the volume of engines was to increase from 1.5 to 3 liters. Brabham was among the teams left without an engine after Coventry-Climax decided to abandon further participation in the F1 and not create a 3-liter unit. Jack found the solution to the problem in his homeland in the face of the Australian spare parts company Repco, with which he worked for several years, for example, in the Tasmania Cup. For this tournament, Brabham created the chassis and Repco created the engine based on the Oldsmobile P85 serial block. GM planned to use a 3-liter V8 with an aluminum block without sleeves in the line of compact models, but the auto industry was not ready to implement this idea, and after alteration for cast-iron sleeves, it turned out to be complex and expensive in mass production. However,Repco Chief Engineer Frank Hallam and Lead Designer Phil Irving saw the P85 as an excellent base for racing engines from 2.5 to 4.4 liters.
The first ready-made 2.5-liter engine for the Tasmania Cup was ready in March 65, a year after the start of the project, and in the summer of the same year, Irving went to England to adapt the engine to the requirements of Formula 1. “Phil started work late in the morning and finished late at night without taking his cigarette out of his mouth,” recalls Ron Toranac. - I had no problem with him, but he had his own ideas and he did not always follow the plan originally approved by Frank Hallam. In truth, Frank came to England that year to get the project back on track. "
Repco 620 at the dino stand.
From the P85, the 2996 cc (88.9 x 60.3 mm) Repco 620 engine only got a 90 ° camber, each costing just £ 11. The block was bored to fit Repco's cast iron sleeves, all of the lower camshaft rod holes were plugged, and a 3/16 '' thick stepped plate was added to increase rigidity. The steel crankshaft was manufactured by the English firm Laystall, the aluminum-silicon alloy pistons and liners were manufactured at Repco facilities, and the stock Daimler V8 connecting rods (£ 7 apiece, which was much cheaper than custom-made) were lightened and balanced. Each aluminum block head designed by Irving had wedge-shaped combustion chambers and only two valves per cylinder and one chain-driven camshaft.A similar design in those years was considered bad manners for formula motors, but it provided the compactness of the power unit, which Brabham needed so much, and simplicity.
The Repco 620, equipped with Lucas multipoint injection, developed 285 hp. at 8000 rpm. The rev limiter was set at 8600 rpm - a figure far from the best motors of the time, which spun freely for ten thousand, but Brabham did not pursue peak power. Jack believed that on most tracks of the championship, the moment in the middle range will be much more important, and the 620th had a good moment already at 3500 rpm, and by 6500 it reached its maximum - 310 Nm. In addition, the engine was economical, weighed 150 kg and was only about half a meter wide.
Compactness was a priority for one simple reason - Black Jack planned to use the existing Brabham BT19 chassis, built to power the stillborn 1.5-liter 16-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine. At the same time, the 3-liter V8 Repco turned out to be even more compact than the British power unit. The chassis itself, to match the engine, did not differ in any innovative ideas. Thoranac still preferred the space frame to the monocoque, although this was the first time he used oval tubes in the cockpit area. The suspension was typical of all previous Brabham chassis: double wishbone front; at the rear on the lower wishbones, upper single wishbones and double push rods; Armstrong springs and hydraulic shock absorbers were located near the wheels.Most of the cars of the time, for aerodynamic reasons, had suspension elements hidden in the nose cone, but the rocker arms were too flexible. Toranak decided that the good suspension geometry would provide a handling advantage that compensates for the increased air resistance due to open springs.
Brabham BT19 Repco.
Otherwise, proven components were used in the Brabham design: Girling solid disc brakes, Borg & Beck twin-disc clutch, ZF limited-slip differential. The Hewland HD gearbox, which most British teams used in the 1.5-liter F1 era, was not suitable for more powerful engines, so Brabham, along with Dan Gurney, who, following the example of his former boss, founded his own team, turned to Mike Huuland with a request to create a new transmission. This is how the DG-300 transmission was born.
Just as work began to prepare the car for the '66 season, the relationship between Brabham and Toranac became somewhat complicated. In fact, the Brabham Racing Organization racing team had nothing to do with the MRD. Toranac built the chassis and received £ 3000 each, but did not go to the races or participate in their finalization. Toranak: “After three seasons with no involvement, no feedback and no money for further development, I lost my interest in F1. It was the end of the 1.5-liter Formula and I said that I would no longer participate in this. "
In response, Brabham gave Thoranak what he wanted - a full-fledged partnership in Formula 1 with a significant increase in salary. Brabham: “I never had any major disagreements with Ron, but we had to be sure that the F1 program was moving in the right direction. My speed was not the same, but with Repco behind me I was extremely motivated. "
Jack Brabham drives a Brabham BT19 Repco on his way to winning the International Trophy at Silverstone.
The Brabham BT19 Repco was the only car with a 3.0-liter engine in the unscheduled South African Grand Prix, the first start under the new regulations. In a confrontation with cars for the Tasmania Cup and the 2-liter Climax and BRM, Jack Brabham won pole position, confidently leading the race with the best lap, but dropped 9 laps before the finish due to a slipped fuel pump belt. In May, at the Syracuse Grand Prix, the Brabham BT19 received its first 3-liter rivals - a Ferrari 312 with a V12 (60 °) from the P2 sport prototype and a Cooper T81 with an old V12 from the Maserati 250F, in which carburettors gave way to injection. The Italians proudly claimed 360 horsepower, but in Ferrari, according to John Surtees, "there were no more than 270". Despite the fact that the BT19 was 60 kg heavier than the 500 kg limit,Ferrari 312 and Cooper T81 weighed even more - 608 and 615 kg, respectively. In Syracuse, Brabham drove only one lap due to a coolant leak, and Surtiz won, but two weeks later at the International Trophy at Silverstone, Black Jack responded: win, pole, fast lap and lead from start to finish.
The World Cup '66 kicked off in Monaco. Power was never the determining factor in success, but both Brabham and Surtiz retired from powertrain problems, giving the victory to Stewart in the 2-liter BRM. At the Rainy Belgian Grand Prix, Brabham was unable to intervene for victory between Surtiz and Rindt in the Cooper, finishing fourth. The 40-year-old Brabham had already been eliminated from the favorites when he won his first World Cup win since 1960 at the French Grand Prix in Reims. “I was confident in the project from the very beginning,” Brabham recalled, “but after beating Ferrari in that race, I set my sights on the championship.”
French Grand Prix '66. Jack Brabham is the first person to win a race while driving a car that bears his name.
In Reims, Danny Hulme backed his boss's success with third place, with a New Zealander driving a new car, the Brabham BT20. Toranac called the BT19 "a set of spare parts used to save time" and as soon as it went to the tests, he set about creating a modernized machine. The BT20 was built on a frame of increased rigidity (oval tubes in the cockpit area gave way to double-walled ones) and had a wheelbase increased by 1.5 inches, by 1 inch in the rear track and by ¾ inch in the front track. The suspension geometry has been revised to accommodate 15-inch wheels instead of 13-inch wheels, for which the exhaust pipes were routed above the suspension, rather than through the arms.
Brabham continued to use BT19 and after the French Grand Prix won three more victories in a row! In Brands Hatch, Brabham simply did not leave a chance to rivals - Jack started from pole, which won with a record time, neither gave up the lead for a lap and won, and Halm, who finished second, was the only one who did not fall behind on a lap. In Zandvoort - another Brabham pole and victory in the battle with Jim Clark in Lotus. At the Nurburgring, Jack fought with Sertiz, who left Ferrari during the season due to a conflict with manager Eugenio Dragoni at Le Mans and got behind the wheel of a Cooper. In the rain ending, Brabham proved that there is more gunpowder in his flasks than his younger rivals.
Start of the British Grand Prix '66. Row 1: Jack Brabham (# 5, Brabham BT19 Repco), Danny Hulme (# 6, Brabham BT20 Repco), Dan Gurney (# 16, Eagle TG1 Climax). Row 2: Graham Hill (# 3, BRM P261), Jim Clark (# 1, Lotus 33 Climax).
В Монцу Брэбэм прибыл уверенным лидером чемпионата, имея на своем счету 39 очков против 17 у Хилла и 15 у Сертиза и Риндта. В «Храме скорости» состоялась настоящая выставка достижений формульного двигателестроения. Ferrari подготовили к гонке модернизированный 365-сильный 36-клапанный V12. Еще одним V12 стал Gurney-Weslake, установленный на шасси Eagle – 364 л.с./9500 об/мин. Honda вернулась в Ф-1 с самым мощным (370 л.с./10000 об/мин) 12-цилиндровым двигателем, но и с самым тяжелым шасси – 740 кг. Символический приз за самую сложную конструкцию однозначно достался 16-цилиндровому BRM P75. Пытались не отстать и в Repco. В Италию прибыли моторы с надписями “Monza 350 bhp”, но реальная мощность модернизированных Repco 620 составляла 298 л.с. Людовико Скафиотти и Майк Паркс принесли Scuderia победный дубль, Дэнни Халм поднялся на подиум, хоть и уступил им два круга. Джек Брэбэм сошел в самом начале гонки, но когда на середине дистанции остановился Cooper Сертиза, австралиец стал трехкратным Чемпионом мира, первым и единственным гонщиком в истории Формулы-1, завоевавшим титул на машине, носящей его собственное имя.
Ron Toranac: “When Jack and I returned from the race in Monza, there were many journalists at the airport. I asked Jack what was going on, to which he replied that they probably wanted to interview the champions. I was so focused on every single step that I lost sight of the big picture. "
In the US Grand Prix, Brabham-Repco won the constructors' championship even though neither Brabham (who switched to BT20) nor Halm made it to the finish line. The final race of the season in Mexico was won by Sertiz, with a pair of Brabham joining him on the podium.
For the '67 season in Melbourne, a completely new Repco 740 engine was prepared. In the course of the work, Phil Irving left the company and was replaced by Norm Wilson. "Norm was a little older than me and had no experience in Formula 1," recalls John Judd, who joined the project from Brabham, "but he was a determined guy and together with him we made significant progress." Repco's engineers ditched the Oldsmobile legacy in favor of a proprietary wet-liner alloy block cast by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, stronger and 15 kg lighter, while maintaining the same bore and stroke. The new cylinder heads got a flat bottom, and the combustion chambers were made in the pistons. The exhaust and intake valves were located in the same line, while on the 620 they were offset by 10 ° relative to the cylinder axis.This made it possible to make the engine even more compact and to move the exhaust manifold to the camber of the block. The ignition system with coil and distributor gave way to the Lucas Opus transistor system. Repco 740 has 330 hp. at 7800 rpm.
The '67 Championship at Brabham started with old motors. Jack started from pole but finished only sixth, while Halm was content with fourth instead of winning due to an unscheduled brake fluid pit stop. The 740th engine made its debut in Monaco, but a broken connecting rod left Brabham, who again won pole position, out of work, while Halm won his first World Championship victory in the BT20 with a 620 engine, but his success was overshadowed by the death of Lorenzo Bandini … At Zandvoort, both riders got new engines, but Brabham-Repco was overshadowed by the impressive debut of the Lotus 49 with the Ford-Cosworth DFV engine. Jim Clark won, but Brabham and Hulme finished second and third, respectively.
Brabham BT24 Repco.
The novelty was also prepared by Ron Toranac - the Brabham BT24 chassis, created on the basis of the BT23 for Formula 2. BT24 turned out to be more compact and lightweight - 517 kg. The Herald's forged overhead suspension arms have been replaced with in-house cast ones. Compared to the BT20, the front track has been reduced by 1.5 inches, the rear track has been increased by ¾ inches, and the wheelbase is unchanged. Toranak: “We looked at the existing machines and tried to thin out all the parts that we could and cut off the excess.”
In Belgium, both Brabham retired due to engine problems, while Dan Gurney won the Eagle-Weslake as the Formula 1 competition grew more intense. Lotus-Ford were unattainable in speed in the remaining races until the end of the season, but as everyone in F1 knows, in order to finish first, you need to finish first. In the next four races, Brabham won doubles in France (Brabham wins), Germany (Halm) and Canada (Brabham), backed up by Halma's second place in the UK, while the Lotus only once converted their speed into victory - Clark won at Silverstone.
Jack Brabham (# 3, Brabham BT24 Repco) leads Dan Gurney (# 9, Eagle TG1 Weslake) during the French Grand Prix '67.
By the Italian Grand Prix, Danny Hulm and Jack Brabham were confidently leading the championship, with 43 and 34 points, respectively. Closest pursuer, Chris Amon, earned just 20 and Clark earned 19. At Monza, Jim Clark had arguably his best race of his career, but John Surtez in the Honda and Black Jack battled it out to win the last corner. In a dramatic struggle, John was 0.2 seconds ahead. At Watkins Glen, Clarke and Hill brought Lotus the winning double, Halm third, Brabham fifth. Brabham-Repco secured their second consecutive Constructors' Cup.
In the last race of the season in Mexico, it remains to play the championship among themselves. Halm spent the entire race behind the boss and secured the title. Danny Hulme: “Jack was always full of ideas. He was in constant contact with Australia and the machines were continuously improved. Jack loved everything new and his car was always different from mine. He could have won that championship, but he constantly wanted to improve on something. For example, use new valves or springs. Sometimes it broke, and I preferred only proven parts, albeit at the expense of speed. "
Danny Hulme (at the wheel of the Brabham BT24 Repco) is the man who drove his boss past the championship title.
Frank Hallam was determined to prepare a worthy response to the Ford-Cosworth DFV for next season. The new Repco 860 engine had four valves per cylinder, two camshafts per head, was lighter and more powerful than its predecessor - 380 hp. John Judd: “It was powerful enough, but had very serious reliability problems. In preparation for the race, we constantly received telegrams from Repco with warnings about possible breakdowns. We were constantly looking for solutions, some of which were just artisanal. For example, they warmed up new heads in the kitchen the night before a race in Spa, manually grinded the tops of pistons in Zandvoort with a chisel, or tried to use piston pins from a Petter diesel engine.
In the '68 season, the Brabham BT26, even more durable and lighter, did not win a single victory, and in the Constructors' Cup with 10 points, the team slipped to eighth place. Brabham believed that by continuing to use the single camshaft engine, they could have won another title in '68, but Toronak did not share this opinion, believing that Cosworth was too good. As a result, the formula program became too financially burdensome for Repco and this name disappeared from the world of Grand Prix forever. Since 1969, Brabham cars began to be equipped with DFV engines, but the next big success came to the team in the early 80s - already in the days of Bernie Ecclestone, Gordon Murray and Nelson Piquet.
David Brabham: “Dad always said that he tried to win as slowly as possible. Mostly to save the technique, but also because he simply did not want to die. Racing in those days was too dangerous to take unnecessary risks. That was his philosophy and you could say it worked. He lost a lot of friends … He may have looked like a calculating driver, but he was unstoppable when he needed it. "
In preparing the article, illustrations were used from the following Internet resources: primotipo.com, pinterest.com, brabhamautomotive.com, drawingdatabase.com, oscarplada.blogpost.com, autobild.de.
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