The Brabham name has been synonymous with motor racing for 60 years, thanks to the legacy first built by my father, Sir Jack Brabham, who of course was crowned triple F1 World Champion. In addition to myself, my brothers Geoff and Gary also built their own successful careers in the sport, continuing with pride the Brabham racing family heritage.
Now it’s quite amazing to think that we have a third generation of Brabhams showing interest in motor racing, including my 16 year-old son Sam who is now looking to take the next step in UK karting.
This year was Sam’s first proper year in karting. Before that he raced in the arrive and drive championship at Buckmore Park, which in my opinion was a great place for him to start racing to see if he enjoyed it. It’s a pretty safe environment and Buckmore Park do a great job with that championship and the amount of drivers who start there.
He quickly outgrew that in terms of speed and size, so it was time to move to owner/driver karting and we’ve had a relationship with the Project One karting team since then. They’ve done a great job in nurturing and helping him and now we’re looking at the next step and potential programmes for 2011.
Sam’s now ready to do a lot more and we’re looking at all the options to give him more experience. To do things properly, of course, a proper budget needs to be in place but we are looking at the national championships and evaluating the best route forward for him.
With Sam we took the approach that karting is a step-by-step process. School is still very much a priority for him. For me, it was important for him to do as much club racing as possible, as that’s where you start to build a solid foundation.
Sam didn’t show any real interest in motorsport until recent years and you can now see what racing means to him. As a parent that’s exactly what you want to see. You don’t want to see someone forcing their child to go karting; you want to see it come from within the child and with Sam that’s evident. You can just see he adores his racing.
As a dad who still competes with a child who wants to do the same, it’s a tricky balancing act as I’m still busy with my own career. Trying to help Sam as well isn’t easy and it’s an interesting experience for me too.
I knew nothing about racing until I left school. That may sound funny but that’s the way it was. I went to an agricultural boarding school because I was going to be a farmer in Australia. It wasn’t until I left school and went to America for three months to watch my brother, Geoff, race that I saw proper racing for the first time to absorb it. My career started from there.
Sam started a bit of karting at 14 years-old, so he has more of a head start on me which is good. But compared to other children who have been karting since they were eight it’s late.
It’s fantastic to see the Brabham legacy expanding in to a third generation. Matthew, Sam’s cousin, has been racing karts since he was nine and has done very well in Australian karting. He’s just 16 and is about to finish his first year in Formula Ford. Both Matthew and Sam are going through that early stage of trial and error, learning and understanding how to get the best from themselves, the people and the equipment around them.
It’s still very early days and there is no guarantee they will make a success out of it. Certainly, if they work hard at trying to improve themselves then they’ve got a great shot. Of course I’ll be doing all I can to support Sam, especially as he starts to take the next step on the racing ladder.
– David Brabham – also photos
by Emma Spearing
08.12.2010 / MaP