Celebrating 50th anniversary ...

Sir Jack's Sebring title win

PATRÓN HIGHCROFT RACING'S DAVID BRABHAM SET TO CELEBRATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS  FATHER'S SEBRING WORLD TITLE WINPatrón Highcroft Racing's David Brabham is set to follow in his father's footsteps - 50 years after an exhausted Sir Jack Brabham pushed his Cooper Climax across the finish line at the 1959 Grand Prix of The United States to win his first Formula 1 World Championship.At the first and only running of the US Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway, Sir Jack ran out of fuel with a 1/2 mile to go while leading the race and had to push the car across the finish line to grab fourth place and claim the first of his three Formula 1 World Championships.The youngest of the three racing Brabham sons, David is now set to swap his Acura ARX-02a LMP1 prototype for the Cooper Climax T51 that his father famously used to clinch his first world title.David will conduct a series of parade laps prior to the commencement of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21 - the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series and the debut race for the new Acura prototype in the LMP1 class.The Sebring event will be the first time that David has climbed aboard one of his father's cars.After winning the World Championship in 1959, Sir Jack Brabham repeated the performance in 1960, again with Coooper.  He then became the first and only driver to win the world crown in car bearing his own name when he took his third title in 1966 aboard his Brabham BT19.Entering the 1959 Sebring race leading the World Championship, Sir Jack qualified second fastest and led most of the race after his title rivals Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss struck trouble.However, on the final lap, he ran out of fuel and had to push the car across the finish line as teammate Bruce McLaren took the victory in the first ever Formula 1 World Championship event held on US soil."The track at Sebring was unbelievably rough when I drove there in 1959 and I was very pleased that I was driving a Cooper which was a very strong car," Sir Jack said."But, to run out of fuel was very frustrating especially about half a mile from the finish line."I pushed the car to the finish line and as you can see from the photos I was really exhausted.  My crew had to make sure no one helped me as I would have been disqualified."I'm afraid David will get a shock driving the car particularly with the small tyres etc. It will not be like anything he has driven before but at least it won't fall apart on the bumps."Sebring has been a happy hunting ground for the Brabham family.  Not only did Sir Jack claim his title there, his oldest son Geoff has two overall Twelve Hours of Sebring victories to his credit in 1989 and 1991 - the second win shared with Gary Brabham - the middle of the three racing brothers.David is also no stranger to victory lane at the historic Florida venue either.  He has added GT1 (Aston Martin) and GT2 (Panoz) class victories to his resumé."It is a bit of a lifetime experience for me because I have never driven one of Dad's cars.  It is such a unique opportunity, not only to drive one of his cars, but also to do it at the track 50 years after he won his first Formula 1 World Championship," David said."It is quite unbelievable and I really have to thank the Cooper's owner Ann Finn and her husband Joel for keeping the car in great condition and allowing me the chance to drive it at Sebring."It was interesting to hear Dad's comment that the Sebring track was unbelievably rough - 50 years later, nothing has changed!  I am probably expecting a bit of a smoother ride in the old car as it has a lot more suspension travel than my Acura."Brabham will join regular team-mate Scott Sharp aboard the new Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a for the 2009 American Le Mans Series season.  Sharp is also a second-generation racer, the son of six-time SCCA champion, Bob Sharp.  They will be joined at Sebring by 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Champion, Dario Franchitti."As a kid growing up in Australia my Dad was on a lot of TV advertisements for different companies after he had retired.  He was very recognizable walking down the street - it just seemed like everybody knew my Dad," David said."To me he wasn't a famous racing driver, he was just my Dad.  I grew up with trophies all over the house and people would come and visit and be in awe of all this stuff, but for me, they were just objects around the house."It wasn't until I got older that I realized what Dad had actually done in racing.  It took longer than people think."Sir Jack's original 1959 Cooper Climax remains in very original condition and has continued on its winning ways with Joel Finn scoring numerous historic competition victories in the 70s, 80s and 90s."This really is a great car and in almost completely original condition," Finn said."Sir Jack raced the car in the Tasman Series in Australia and New Zealand at the end of the season in 1959 and I purchased the car from the next  owner in Australia in 1965.  It still has a little bit of accident damage that Jack put on the car in practice at the Sebring event."It still has the original chassis, body, wheels, radiator and the leather covered steering wheel that were on it when Sir Jack last drove it. David is certainly going to be surprised, these old cars certainly do take a lot of getting used to by drivers who grew up piloting modern cars."Not only does the Finn family possess a unique piece of history from the first ever Formula 1 World Championship race held in the US, Joel Finn also wrote about it, authoring "Sunshine, Speed and a Surprise-The 1959 Grand Prix of The United States  at Sebring" in 2006. Copies of the book will be available at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

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