Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, who passed away May 19 at the age of 88, was honored with a state funeral Wednesday, June 11, in Southport Church of Christ, Queensland, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Family, friends, and dignitaries were joined electronically by motor sports enthusiasts around the world through a livestream Internet broadcast of the service organized by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport Limited (CAMS).
In a service lasting about an hour, bible readings and hymns were permeated with the driver's racing son Geoff and racing grandsons Matthew and Sam who told personal stories about their father and grandfather. Government dignitaries paid homage to a man they called a "great Australian."
Brabham's casket lay front and center throughout the service; a larger archival photograph of the racer in younger days leaned on an easel nearby. On the casket rested a large spray of red roses, white carnations, and greenery interlaced with green ribbon with a gold stripe down the middle, colors race fans who know Brabham cars would quickly recognize.
At the top end of the casket sat a gold racing helmet; a checkered flag draped over the foot of the casket with a steering wheel sitting atop it. The helmet and the steering wheel provided reminders that this man had achievements not only as a driver but also as an engineer.
Brabham is the only Formula 1 World Champion to win in a car he built himself. With so many changes in the sport happening since his era in the 1950s and 60s, many say this feat will never be repeated. He also has the distinction of being the only person to win both the drivers' and constructors' championships in the same year.
Geoff Brabham started his remarks by apologizing for the service beginning a few minutes late. He said that his father would have risen from his coffin if the family had not allowed his grandsons to participate in their respective races over this past weekend, but their travels back from those races had caused the slight delay.
Then the racer's son described growing up with a multiple-time World Champion Formula 1 racer as a father. Life was "never boring," he said. He told stories of how just getting to the race tracks over the years could be adventures in themselves, especially when his father piloted the plane that took them all there.
Matthew Brabham, 20, Geoff's son, talked about not particularly having much interest in racing for quite awhile growing up, but then deciding that's what he wanted to do. He said when he asked advice from his grandfather, whom he called "Pop," he was mainly told to stay on the black, advice the young Brabham admitted he should have taken more heed of in this past weekend's race. Matthew currently races in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport.
Geoff shared a recent story of his father before the end of the service, though he said he discussed whether he should share it at the service with his family first. Thinking it might lighten the mood, he decided to tell the story. An engineer to the end, Jack had heard that magnets could help beat cancer. He began wearing a high-powered magnet in his pants. When the cancer cells went down in number, he decided two magnets would be even better.
The problem was that the magnets, which were strong enough to "pull a car," according to Geoff, were also too strong to stay away from each other in the knight's pants. Needless to say, problems of a certain magnitude ensued and discomfort in the lower regions did not escape the famed, octogenarian racer when his family had to try to separate and remove the magnets.
Sir "Black" Jack Brabham was the first race car driver knighted for his contribution to British motor sport. He was named a "National Living Treasure" of Australia in 2012.
According to ABC, organizers of the annual Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix just announced on Tuesday of this week that they will name the trophy awarded at that race after Brabham.
Many of his signature Brabham race cars can be seen currently on the historic / vintage racing circuit where they are popular with collectors and amateur racers.