- March 20, 1952
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Geoff Brabham is a former Australian racing driver and a member of the famous Brabham racing dynasty. He is the oldest son of triple F1 champion Jack Brabham. His brothers Gary and David were also racers.
Unlike Gary and David, Geoff didn't compete in Formula One, but he was the most successful of three brothers, with four consecutive IMSA GTP championship titles (1988-1991) and one victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans (in 1993).
The eldest son of Jack Brabham, triple F1 world champion
Geoff Brabham was born on March 20th, 1952, in Sydney, Australia. He was 14 years old when his father Jack had won his third F1 championship title in 1966. For a teenager, it must have been impressive and it was clear that Geoff would also become a racing driver. But he wasn't in a hurry, as he debuted in racing in 1973.
He entered the racing world through the Australian Formula Ford, reaching seventh place in the final classification of his debuting season. He finished third in the championship next year. In 1974, Geoff debuted at the famous Bathurst 1000, driving Mazda RX-3 alongside Bernie Haehnle. They finished 8th overall and third in class.
First title in the Australian Formula 2
In 1975, Geoff had won his first championship title. He was the winner of the Australian Formula 2, driving Birrana 27 (Ford) of Grace Bros Racing Team. With the same team, he competed in one race of the Australian Formula One.
During 1975, he repeated the participation at Bathurst 1000 and finished 12th, driving Mike Stillwell's Ford Escort RS2000. Together with Stillwell, he competed at another famous Australian touring car race, the Sandown 250, and they finished 14th.
Father and son racing together at Bathurst 1000
In 1976, Geoff had moved to Great Britain and competed in different Formula 3 series, driving Toyota-powered Ralt RT1 of his father's team. In the BARC F3 championship he finished 11th, while in the BRDC F3 championship he was eighth. He continued to race in the same championships through 1977, progressing to 4th place in the BRDC and 6th place in the BARC. Geoff also appeared at a few races of the European F3 Championship, driving Brabham's Ralt RT1, but without notable results.
He returned to Australia for the one-off appearance at 1977 Bathurst 1000. Geoff and his father Jack drove John Goss Racing's Ford Falcon and they finished 18th overall. They started 9th on the grid after the F1 champ Jack Brabham showed a good performance in the qualifying.
In 1978, Geoff Brabham expanded his racing program. Besides British F3 races, he participated in the inaugural British Formula One series, driving the Hart-powered Boxer PR2. He competed in only one race at Donington and finished 6th in the race.
Moving to the USA in 1978
In 1978, Geoff went to America for the first time and debuted in the USAC Mini-Indy Series, which was, in fact, Formula Super Vee. He won his third race at Trenton Speedway and finished the championship in 13th place.
In 1979, Geoff completely moved his racing career to America, competing in a few open-wheeler series. He was most successful in the Formula Super Vee Championship, winning the title with five wins in eight races. He continued to race in the USAC Mini-Indy Series and finished third with three podiums in eight races. He was driving Ralt RT1 (Volkswagen) in both series. He also debuted in the Formula Atlantic Championship and Can-Am Challenge.
Geoff was the 1981 Can-Am champion
In 1980, Geoff switched to Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) and he competed the entire season for Racing Team VDS. He was driving Chevrolet-powered Lola T530 and he finished third in the championship, behind Patrick Tambay and Al Holbert. In 1981, Geoff remained with the VDS team and he won the Can-Am Challenge Cup, ahead of Teodorico Fabi and Al Holbert. Winning the Can-Am championship title, Geoff rounded one part of his career and opened a new chapter. He debuted in the PPG Indy Car World Series, in which he continued competing for the following seven seasons, until 1987. From 1981 to 1987, Geoff Brabham competed with six different teams in the CART Indy Car World Series.
He drove one race for Kraco Racing and two races for All American Racers. In 1982, Geoff competed in the Bignotti-Cotter Racing's March 81C (Cosworth) and scored one podium in 11 races. He changed three teams (VDS, Wysard and Kraco) in 1983, but without podiums.
12 participations at Indianapolis 500
Geoff competed for Kraco Racing for the entirety of the 1984 season, and with three podiums finishes, he was 8th in the final classification. From 1985 to 1987, Geoff raced only for Galles Racing and scored five more podiums. His best season was 1987, when he again finished 8th.
During his Indy Car years, Geoff Brabham competed 12 times at Indianapolis 500. In his first Indy 500, he gained a phenomenal 5th place, driving Penske PC-7 (Cosworth) for Kraco Racing. His best race followed in 1984, when he finished 4th, driving Team VDS's Penske PC-10 (Cosworth). After finishing his Indy Car career, Geoff appeared five more times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but never gained any notable results.
A few attempts with Porsche 962C
While driving Indy Car, Geoff competed in other various series as a guest driver or with a limited schedule. In 1983, he participated in five races and scored one podium in the IMSA GTP Championship, driving Ford Mustang of Zakspeed Roush. In 1987, Geoff joined Vern Schuppan's team in a few endurance races with Porsche 962C sports prototype. The same year, Geoff joined Electramotive Engineering and jumped into their Nissan GTP ZX-T. He competed in five races of IMSA GTP Championship, scoring a victory at Miami Grand Prix. It was just a prelude to the most successful period in his career, with four titles in sports prototype racing.
Golden years of Geoff Brabham's racing career
In 1988, Geoff crushed the rivals in the IMSA GTP Championship and he won 9 of 11 races, driving factory backed Nissan GTP ZX-T of Electramotive Engineering. He changed two co-drivers during the year (John Morton and Tom Gloy), so he was alone at the top of the championship standings. As an IMSA GTP champion, Geoff was invited to the 1989 Race of Champions. He finished his debuting appearance against eleven American champions in the 10th place.
Four consecutive titles with Nissan
In 1989, Geoff repeated the triumph in the IMSA GTP Championship, with nine wins in 15 races. Turbo Nissan was almost unbeatable and two Nissan drivers were in front of all. Geoff won the title and his team-mate Chip Robinson was second. They won five races together, Geoff alone won three times, while at 12 hours of Sebring they were partnered by Arie Luyendyk. Nissan was dominant in America, so they decided to try at Le Mans. Sebring-winning crew Brabham, Robinson and Luyendyk competed with Nissan R89C but retired after 250 laps.
In 1990, Geoff wasn't as dominant as before, but he won his third consecutive title. He won four of 15 races, partnering Derek Daly, Chip Robinson and Bob Earl. They used two cars – Nissan GTP ZX-T and Nissan NPT90. At 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car was Nissan R90CK, but Brabham, Robinson and Daly didn't reach the finish.
Fourth IMSA GTP title came in 1991, with only one victory and ten podiums. Geoff raced with three different Nissan cars (R90C, NPT90 and NPT91) alongside his brother Gary, Derek Daly and Chip Robinson. The only victory was scored at 12 Hours of Sebring, where the winning drivers were Brabham brothers Geoff and Gary, and the Irishman Derek Daly.
In 1992, Geoff scored a victory at Miami and finished third in the IMSA GTP Championship, behind Juan Manuel Fangio II and Davy Jones. The cars that Geoff was driving were Nissan R90C and NPT91A.
Video : The legendary Australian racer Geoff Brabham crashes at Road Atlanta, 1992
Geoff led the 1-2-3 Peugeot win at Le Mans
Geoff Brabham left the championship and he didn't have a full season arrangement for 1993, but despite that, it became one of the most successful years in his career. He joined Peugeot Talbot Sport at Le Mans and won the race alongside two French rookies, Christophe Bouchut and Eric Helary. They were driving #3 Peugeot 905 Evo 1B and won the race ahead two sister cars of the French manufacturer. Brabham later commented that he was especially proud when the team boss Jean Todt allowed him to drive the last stint and to cross the finish line as the winner.
Later that year, in September, Brabham debuted at another famous Australian race, the Sandown 500, and he won at his first attempt. He was driving Glenn Seton Racing's Ford Falcon alongside David Parsons. With the same car and the same co-driver, Brabham competed at Bathurst 1000 in October and finished sixth.
NASCAR attempt ended with a crash
In 1994, Geoff had a one-off appearance in the NASCAR Winston Cup, driving a Ford at the Brickyard 400 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He crashed out after 127 laps.
From 1995, Brabham completely switched to touring car races in Australia, finishing second in the Australian Super Touring Championship. He was driving BMW 318i for Paul Morris Motorsport and scored five wins in 16 races. The only better driver than Brabham was the team owner Paul Morris.
Victory at Bathurst 1000 for Brabham brothers
Brabham continued to race BMWs in the following two seasons, finishing 4th in the 1996 championship and again as the runner-up in the 1997 championship. On October 5th, 1997, Geoff Brabham and his brother David won the AMP Bathurst 1000 race. It was the first Bathurst 1000 race held after the controversial split between race organizers, the Australian Racing Drivers Club, and V8 Supercar, so there were two races in 1997.
However, Geoff Brabham and David Brabham, driving a BMW 320i for BMW Motorsport Australia, made history becoming the first brothers who won the famous race. Their team-mates Paul Morris and Craig Baird were initially declared the winners but were later disqualified as Baird had breached the rule of the maximum three hours of continuous driving.
In 1998, Geoff Brabham switched to V8 Supercars and competed occasionally in the Shell Championship Series, two races each year, at Mount Panorama and Queensland Raceway. His last official race was the 2001 Bathurst 1000, in which he finished 7th.
Geoff's son Matthew was born in 1994. He started his racing career in 2009, similarly to his father, in the Formula Ford Championship. Since then, Geoff Brabham was dedicated to following Matthew and helping him, to be sure that Brabham racing dynasty would race further.
Photos: motorsportretro.com, comicozzie.com, foxsports.com.au, indycar.com, 24h-lemans.com, primotipo.com