DAVID BRABHAM column
David Brabham accepts the FIA Gold Medal on behalf of Sir Jack Brabham from Nick Craw, President of the FIA Senate and President of ACCUS (USA).
The 2010 season was yet another special year for me to remember. Taking back-to-back American Le Mans Series titles with Highcroft Racing and helping the team realise their dream of making their Le Mans 24 Hours debut of course rank among the highlights.
A fitting end to the season was for my father, Sir Jack Brabham, to be recognised by the FIA for his achievements in motorsport. It was a special honour for me to accept the trophy on his behalf at the FIA Gala Awards in Monaco before Christmas.
My father’s career has been outstanding and we, as a family, are extremely proud of what he has achieved and that he has been recognised with the FIA Gold Medal. He commented: “This award came as a complete surprise and I am extremely pleased and honoured to receive such a prestigious award.”
The Brabham Racing cars sowed the seeds for a lot of people to get into motorsport, whether as a driver, mechanic or engineer. Both my father and Ron Tauranac helped generations to get in to the sport. I still get comments from people telling me what an influence my father had on their lives and that’s very touching.
From an engineering perspective Dad also set so many standards. Like going to Indianapolis with the rear-engined Cooper, which everyone laughed at to begin with until they soon realised Dad was leading the way. It changed American single seater racing and, of course, Formula One forever.
He’s been a pioneer at the pinnacle of the sport, pushing the engineering envelope for decades. To top all that he raced against people like Clark, Hill, Stewart, Surtees, Fangio and Moss, and won three world championships. To do all that and develop all the cars was phenomenal. I’m not sure people really grasp how much he achieved and set the president for the way race cars are built today.
It was an honour to accept the trophy on his behalf. It was also great to sit on the main table and catch up with 2010 F1 World Champion Sebastien Vettel and World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.
It was a great way to finish off 2010, particularly as my son Sam, who’s just 16, continues the family tradition and moves up the UK karting ranks this year. Motorsport is his passion so we’re doing all we can to help him progress in his career.
Another recent honour was for the ALMS championship-winning efforts of my teammate Simon [Pagenaud] and I to be recognised by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) and to join the illustrious list of champions on the “All-American” team.
It’s my fifth overall All American selection and third in a row. First awarded in 1970, the selection is decided by AARWBA members to highlight the most impressive on-track performances in 2010.
To be chosen alongside some fantastic drivers is very humbling. However, I can’t go out there and do it on my own. At Highcroft I have a great group of people around me and of course Simon did a fantastic job. Without everyone’s help this award wouldn’t be possible.
The award joins a lengthy list of impressive achievements with Highcroft Racing that I’m truly proud of as my contract with the team comes to an end. I’ve had a great four years since joining Highcroft. We took the 2009 LMP1 title and followed that with a solid second consecutive title in 2010, where we failed to finish off the podium and took four race wins.
With Highcroft’s blessing, I’ve also won Le Mans three times – the GT1 class twice with Aston Martin Racing and outright with Team Peugeot Total in 2009. You can’t achieve that level of success without the support of great teams and I feel very fortunate to achieve everything I have in recent years.
Winning championship titles and races is a team effort and it helps to be working with like- minded, talented people who have a strong intent on succeeding. When you have all of those ingredients it makes things easier and that ethos is especially evident at Highcroft. That’s the type of environment I thrive in and I’m hoping I’ll be in a programme like that for 2011.
Of course, I am employed to do a job and what’s important for me is that we set, at Highcroft, our goals and achieved them. It’s been a great few years and I’m keen to continue with Highcroft Racing as I’ve had a fantastic time with the team and we still have a lot we can achieve.
We’re now rapidly approaching a new season. Highcroft are working hard on putting a programme together that will allow us to fight for our third consecutive championship. I am waiting to see how things develop but in the meantime I naturally need to keep my mind and options open.
Of course, I’ll keep you posted.
– David Brabham – also photo
by Emma Spearing
07.01.2011 / MaP